I am deriving enormous satisfaction from cutting my electric bill in half from an out-of-control high of 1,841 kilowatt hours (KWH) or $307 in January to a mere 758 KWH/$127 in April. My experiment with transmission supplier National Grid was based on replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs and shutting off the hot tub whose heater I estimate was costing at least $50 a month during the cold months here in the Northeast. Near as I can tell, the CFLs accounted for 30-40% of the drop while the lion's share goes to shutting off the hot tub which we used infrequently. My last child is headed off to college in the fall and she was the primary user. And there's a certain reluctance to don a bathing suit (or less) by the adults in household approaching a ripe middle age. No one seems to miss it and it's wooden housing stuff with insulation is largely a home for mice.
There are other ways I will cut my energy consumption. My next car will almost certainly be a Prius. As I seethed yesterday in my six cylinder powered sedan (a wonderful Mercedes E320 with 170K trouble free miles) during a crushing two hour and fifteen minute commute, I thought a hybrid would be drawing tiny amounts of power when stopped in traffic. An announcer on the radio said gas consumption is up 1.75% from a year ago as we rocket up to $4 a gallon. This is insane! Bring on the high prices, I say. Get people out of their cars. For the three years I've had this onerous commute, softened only by the 1-2 days a week I work at home, I've cursed, seethed, sighed and thrown my hands up. Thing is, I love my job at Design News. The topics it covers are truly fascinating.
Our eneergy habits have to change and I'm trying to do my part. My global warming column in the 4/30 elicited more than 40 letters and they're still coming in, many of them disagreeing with my assessement of its true and present danger. One point made several times that really bothered me was that what I do to cut my own energy consumption is insignificant. That's a horrible cop-out. We all need to kick in here.
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov may have the best rules for effective brainstorming and creativity. His never-before-published essay, "On Creativity," recently made it to the Web pages of MIT Technology Review.
Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
Advertised as the "Most Powerful Tablet Under $100," the Kindle Fire HD 6 was too tempting for the team at iFixit to pass up. Join us to find out if inexpensive means cheap, irreparable, or just down right economical. It's teardown time!
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.