Home energy

At home in a not-so-smart home

The future, we are told, is smart homes able to remotely control appliances, secure us from intruders, and use energy superefficiently. As I sit here with a box full of barely used equipment, I feel like an unconvinced Luddite.

A few months ago, a representative from the Z-Wave Alliance offered to loan me some wireless home automation equipment to check out. Given that CNET has a tech-savvy audience, I've written extensively about home energy management systems designed to give consumers more control over how and when they use energy. I've been giving it a try in fits and … Read more

'Morris Model' solar financing shines

In the last eight months, Morris County, N.J., has undergone a significant energy change of which many of its residents are probably not even aware.

The partners involved call it the "Morris Model." It's a new financing model that allows municipalities to partner with solar-energy companies to incorporate solar energy into their energy portfolio for little outlay.

In June the Morris County Improvement Authority (MCIA) announced it was entering into this Morris Model financing plan with Tioga Energy and SunDurance Energy to install about 3-megawatts worth of solar panels by offering up something it already had: … Read more

Sub du jour goes all-electric

This sub could make even Philippe Cousteau, with so many water toys at his disposal, a little jealous.

The Ego "compact semi-submarine" from Raonhaje--showcased at the Miami Boat Show last week--functions as both a motor boat and as a sub that seats two just below the water's surface.

Instead of using a rudder and outboard motor, both the Ego LE (luxury edition) and the Ego SE (standard edition) are run by electric podded propulsion with a battery-powered BLDC (Brushless DC electric motor).

The completely battery-powered sub uses a Trojan T-890 battery pack--a golf-cart battery--that allows the … Read more

Toyota to sell home electric-car chargers in 2012


Toyota Motor will launch home battery chargers for electric and plug-in hybrid cars next year as it starts selling new models of environmentally friendly cars, the Nikkei business daily reported today.

The chargers, which will also be compatible with non-Toyota cars, will come in two types, the Nikkei reported, citing company sources. One would extend from the exterior wall of a home and the other would be for setting up in a garage.

The company expects to sell 20,000 to 30,000 units in the first year, with each costing about several tens of thousands of yen to 200,… Read more

'Atlas Shrugged' pushing high-speed rail?

Contemporary high-speed rail seems to have gotten the nod as a plan worthy of pursuit from the makers of the long-awaited film version of "Atlas Shrugged," Ayn Rand's controversial Objectivist novel in which the railroad industry plays a key role.

Production company The Strike released its first trailer for "Atlas Shrugged, Part I" last week. Due out April 15th, the film was directed by Paul Johansson, actor/director of "One Tree Hill" fame.

Dialogue in the trailer signals that the book's ideas promoting the value of capitalism, rational self-interest, the intellectually elite, … Read more

IKEA building its own personal wind farm

The IKEA Group will soon have its own wind farm in Dalarna County, Sweden.

The Swedish furniture retail giant announced today it's partnered with Stockholm-based O2 to oversee the construction and maintenance of a nine-turbine wind farm slated to be completed in 2012.

At full capacity the wind farm is expected to generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 17 IKEA stores in Sweden.

Owning a wind farm in Sweden will enable IKEA to further its ultimate goal of running on 100 percent renewable energy to power, heat, and cool its facilities in Sweden, the company said in … Read more

EV pilot programs show sticking points

The initial results of pilot programs on plug-in electric vehicles may spook companies and create a vicious cycle of inefficiency when it comes to charging.

That's according to one of the topics covered in the "Changing the game: Plug-in electric vehicle pilots" report (PDF) released yesterday by technology consulting giant Accenture.

The Accenture report examined the recent data garnered from over 25 pilot programs scattered around the world that have been monitoring EVs and driver habits.

Overall the pilot programs found public charging stations have not yet been getting enough use to pay for themselves and their … Read more

Honda Civic GX tops green list again

The Honda Civic GX is the greenest car of 2011, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

The nonprofit organization released its 14th annual environmental ratings list yesterday with the Honda Civic GX, which runs on compressed natural gas, once again winning first place. The ACEEE ranked the all-electric Nissan Leaf second, with the Smart Fortwo in third, and the Toyota Prius in fourth. The Chevy Volt was ranked last at No. 12.

However, topping the ACEEE's list doesn't necessarily mean the Honda Civic GX is the most consumer-friendly green car available. The car, which has … Read more

Informed consumers conserve for cash, study says

People will significantly conserve electricity during peak demand if given price incentives and tools to modify usage, according to a new study.

Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E), a utility company and a subsidiary of OGE Energy, announced this week the interim results of a study that was required as part of a $130 million grant from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The utility used the grant to create a smart grid with 42,000 smart meters.

The study, conducted in conjunction with the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, consists of 3,000 OG&E consumers in Norman, … Read more

Cisco ties knot with Control4 for smart home

Cisco Systems has invested in Control4 and intends to use Control4's home automation software in large deals with utilities and cities.

The deal, announced today, calls for Cisco to sell Control4 products, such as its home energy management dashboard, under the Cisco brand and to create closer ties between the two companies' products. Cisco invested an undisclosed amount but was the lead investor in a recent round of private funding in Salt Lake City-based Control4.

Control4's software is like an operating system for connected devices in a home, including consumer electronics, home appliances, lights, and thermostats, said company … Read more