Home Alternative Technology

Alternative Technology and Renewable Energy can be great fun and very rewarding, especially if done at home. On this blog I share my ideas and tips for mainly simple and inexpensive alternative technology projects.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hotel Rooms Much Too Hot!

We checked into an hotel on the south coast over the weekend and the room was stifling hot. The room had been extensively refurbished and was absolutely beautiful. It had all the high tech features including WiFi broadband, thermostatic shower and plasma TV, but no way of controlling the temperature except opening the windows.

I contacted reception and was informed that no maintenance person was around until Monday morning and most people just opened the windows to let out the heat! The radiators had been boxed in and there was no access to the valves, thermostatic or otherwise. So we did as advised and slept with the windows wide open with the heat spilling outside to cool the room down to a bearable temperature. In these days of concern about global warming and wasting energy, I could not let this go unmentioned. I imagine that many kilowatt hours of heat was going straight out of the window and wonder how many other hotel rooms have the same problem?

It must be costing the hotel owners a fortune in wasted energy, which could so easily be avoided by fitting an accessible temperature control system. I understand that nobody likes to check into a room that is too cold, but this was just ridiculous. Adding insult to injury was a notice displayed in the room advising people to save energy, by keeping towel use to a minimum to avoid expensive laundry costs......

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Pure Green Ecotricity Energy in Suffolk

After buying my electric G-Wiz car, my thoughts turned to where the electricity I use to charge it, actually comes from? If I really wanted to see a significant reduction in emissions as a result of driving an electric car, then I had to make sure the electricity it used came from totally renewable sources.

I did quite a bit of research and found that many so called "green" tariffs only involved a small percentage of renewable energy. None of the big electricity suppliers had a truly green product to offer. The choice eventually came down to two independent suppliers: Good Energy and Ecotricity.

Good Energy have a 100% renewable product, but do not invest very much in creating new renewable generation capacity. It is also pretty expensive. Ecotricity have two products. One has a very high proportion of green energy and is designed to compete with the prices offered by the larger suppliers. Their other product, New Energy Plus, offers 100% green energy but is rather more expensive than the larger suppliers. The factor that swung it for me was that Ecotricity spend more, per customer, on building new renewable generating capacity than all the other suppliers put together! My picture shows the Ecotricity wind turbine at Swaffham in Norfolk.

So by paying a bit more for my electricity, I am assured of a supply from totally renewable sources and I am helping to fund new green generation projects. If more people signed up for Ecotricity, it would help to expand the network of wind, solar, tidal, hydro and wave power installations in the UK. I do realise that not everyone can afford to pay more for their electricity, but if only half of those who could afford it signed up, it would over time, have a significant lowering effect on harmful emissions in this country.

Compare energy providers for yourself and decide whether you can afford to switch to Ecotricity.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wild Cowslips In My Garden

We always get a clear indication of spring when the wild cowslips in our garden appear. They have come up every year since we have lived here and no amount of lawn mowing seems to deter them.

I even tried to transplant some a couple of years ago, to a different part of the garden, but they still come up in the same place as well as the place where I transplanted them to. My wife forbids me to run the lawnmower over them, so I have to steer it around them until the flowers run to seed. I collected the seed pods one year and scattered them in a wild part of the garden. Now they grow there too, even amongst my chickens!

I believe they are a protected species, so I thought I would show them off in a couple of pictures. We have plenty of daffodils too, but of course, they are not so rare, so I won't inflict pictures of those on you for now. We are very lucky to have a large garden and although the upkeep is hard work, it is nice to have nature reward us with flowers like these.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Reva G-Wiz Electric Car in Suffolk

I decided to buy a G-Wiz electric car in order to better understand the technology and investigate the feasibility of small electric vehicles in a country environment. I have long wanted an EV and bought a Toyota Prius hybrid car about four years ago. This time I have gone the whole hog with this purely electric powered vehicle.

The G-Wiz is a very common site in London, where its green credentials really take advantage. You pay no congestion charge, parking is often free, no road tax, cheap insurance, no pollution and incredibly economical running costs. Added to this, the car is unbelievably manoeuvrable and great fun to drive.

The car is not suitable for high speeds or long journeys, but for short trips into town or visiting local villages you don't need all the luxuries of a normal modern car. The Reva G-Wiz was designed in California and is built in Bangalore, India. Top speed is around 45 mph and the maximum range is 48 miles. The car can seat 2 adults and 2 children with only basic creature comforts.

The video shows the car being unloaded at my home, from the low-loader which brought it from the previous owner in Sussex. I will report on my driving experiences in later blogs.

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