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Green Decisions: Dishwasher vs. Hand Washing March 11, 2009

Posted by Tom in energy savings, Equity Thru Energy, Green Decisions, Research, Studies, Technology, Tips and Tricks.
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I get a lot of questions about greening the things that we do every day, and I thought it would be fun to address these questions in my blog, and even have readers help out and weigh in on the issues.

Since ETE has a lot of clients in the restaurant industry, a question that I hear often from both small restaurant owners and individuals is whether it is considered greener to wash dishes by hand or in a dishwasher. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not completely clear, since there are many different variables that must be considered, including type of dishwasher, how you hand-wash dishes and how many dishes you are washing.

The general consensus seems to be that using a dishwasher is greener than hand-washing, which may be surprising to some, seeing as the do-it-yourself approach is often the greener one since using machines use gas and electric energy. A decade ago, this probably wasn’t the case, but because of newer Energy Star models, dishwashers are now more efficient than ever, when used properly. They are designed to get dishes clean while using less water, and as a result using less energy to heat that water.

However, before stopping your hand-washing habits completely, here are a couple things to consider:

  • Make sure your dishwasher is an energy efficient Energy Star appliance.
  • Run your dishwasher only when it’s full. If you only have a few plates and forks to wash, wait until you can fill your dishwasher or just wash them by hand.
  • Use the air dry setting on your dishwasher. This will save on electricity costs.
  • Use an eco-friendly detergent. I know both Trader Joe’s and Earth Friendly Products offer green solutions.
  • Use the “light” setting when you can. Some dishes require heavy duty cleaning, but if the dishes aren’t too heavily used, a light wash should be more than enough to get them clean.

Again, this topic is still debatable, but a study by the University of Bonn in Germany has shown dishwashers to be more energy efficient. What do you think? Feel free to share tips and tricks on saving energy when washing dishes in the comments.


Fountain of Youth: Clean Air? January 22, 2009

Posted by Tom in Government policies, Interesting stories, Research, Studies, Uncategorized.
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Here’s a motivating reason to cut emissions and support environmental clean-up: less air pollution = longer life. Researchers have found that the presence of fine particulates in pollution can significantly reduce life expectancy about 5-10 months. Fine particulates are tiny particles that can be inhaled and potentially cause cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. They are caused by various sources like cigarettes, gasoline and diesel engines and power plants.

Bringham Young University Epidemiologist C. Arden Pope III and his team conducted studies comprising¬† of 51 metropolitan areas and concluded that every decrease of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of particulate pollution, the average life span in that city increased over seven months. (more…)

Greenhouse Gases, Poznan Climate Change Conference December 5, 2008

Posted by Tom in Government policies, Research, Studies, Uncategorized.
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The U.S. government’s energy statistics agency reported yesterday that the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions increased 1.4 percent in 2007, in contrast to the 1.3 percent decrease that was reported in 2006. The Bush administration was asked recently about their record on climate change, and as a response, a summary cited the 2006 emission drop as proof of “real progress.” (See more details on the report here).

About 190 nations are meeting in Poznan, Poland until December 12 in order to discuss a plan of action to deal with climate change and rework 1997’s Kyoto Protocol, which has been proven to be less than successful in reducing emissions. Much attention is being paid to U.S. policies, with President-elect Barack Obama promising to bring U.S. emissions down to 1990 levels by 2020. China and India want to see more commitment from the U.S., and Chinese negotiator Su Wei said of Obama’s pledge, “We don’t think it’s good enough.”

Many critics feel that the conference is a lost cause, since the Kyoto Protocol has not produced the desired effects, many still debate the connection of climate change to carbon emissions and the financial crisis poses an imminent threat to the well-being of people in many countries around the world.

It’s understandable that these reasons have critics skeptical. However, the declining state of the environment due to man-made causes remains undeniable. If nothing is done now, then when can we expect change? What are your thoughts on the conference? Is it a lost cause? Is President-elect Barack Obama’s plan to reduce emissions enough?

New UC Berkeley Study Shows Relationship Between Energy Policies and Job Creation October 22, 2008

Posted by Tom in Energy costs, energy savings, Government policies, Studies.
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The University of California, Berkeley, recently released a report that shows the relationship between California’s energy policies and its economic sustainability. While a popular misconception holds that policies on energy efficiency can be financial drains to implement, this new study shows that in reality, policies on energy efficiency substantially increase jobs and promote the state’s energy and economic independence.

California is well-known for its aggressive energy policies and the report, entitled “Energy Efficiency, Innovation, and Job Creation in California,” provides compelling support for the continuation of this aggressive position, since it will not only benefit the environment by reducing carbon emissions, but continue to stimulate the state’s economy by encouraging the consumption of in-state, employment-intensive goods and services. As a result, more jobs are created – approximately $1.5 million FTE (full-time equivalent) jobs in the past 30 years with a total payroll of over $45 billion, and additionally saving consumers @56 billion in energy costs. (more…)