Back in December, Google
took steps to form Google Energy, a subsidiary created for the express purpose of buying and selling electricity in bulk. In January, the company filed a request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to enter the market, and yesterday received permission to purchase and resell wholesale energy (PDF
Google says it made the move primarily to better manage its high electricity costs, but also to give it more flexibility in pursuing the goal of becoming completely carbon neutral. "We want to buy the highest quality, most affordable renewable energy wherever we can," a representative told CNET
news. A company buying and selling energy to help it manage costs isn't unusual, but -- then again -- Google isn't your typical company.
There is some expectation that Google will actually enter the energy business at some point, whether it sells direct to consumers or partners with existing utility companies. Back in January, the same representative told CNET
, "We want the ability to buy and sell electricity in case it becomes part of our portfolio." Then there was the announcement that the company was developing low cost mirrors for use in solar panels
. And, of course, there's the Google PowerMeter
, which allows users to track electricity usage, as long as they have the proper equipment to upload the data.
Google has extended its reach across almost every type of Web service into the world of smart phones
, announced a plan to (at least experimentally) enter the ISP
business, developed a netbook OS
, and now has implied that it may attempt to enter the consumer electricity market. With each passing day, those folks previously dismissed as paranoid for comparing Google to Big Brother
seem a little less crazy. [From: CNET
Earth-Friendly Home Appliances
Home appliances generally haven't been at the forefront of the green movement. While the Energy Star rating on some household gadgets has helped eco-warriors reduce their carbon footprint (and saved homeowners some money), it doesn't hold a candle to the devices that are designed to be green from the get-go. Switched.com decided to dig a little deeper – and found a dozen products that are truly earth-friendly.
1. Xeros washing machine
Though still a prototype, this new washer promises to clean clothes with just one cup of water and thousands of nylon beads that absorb dirt and stains, with a carbon footprint that's 40-percent less than the current most efficient washing machine. Initially, Xeros will only be available commercially, but the home market will follow soon after.
2. Equator 375 Refrigerator
This refrigerator/freezer only uses $50 of electricity per year. It's also quieter, since the components are sealed in. The downside is you'll have to manually defrost the freezer and -- at about six feet tall two feet wide -- it's a bit smaller than your average Frigidaire.
3. Aeromatic oven
It won't make dinner for four (well, not quickly), but this high-efficiency standalone oven will grill, broil, bake, fry, toast, steam and roast your smaller meals in about as much time as it would take to cook 'em in a microwave (but using about 80-percent less energy).
4. Bosch Evolution 800 Plus
Dishwashers are big energy hogs, but this Bosch model is 160-percent more efficient than traditional models -- with two eco-friendly modes and the capacity for 15 place settings. Be warned, though: Efficiency comes with a hefty $1,650-plus price tag.
5. Tankless Hot Water Heater
Ditch the old-fashioned water heater! Tankless systems can lower your costs and help you save time, as delivery of hot water is instantaneous. Up-front costs are high, though -- so it will be a while before you recoup the investment.
6. AO Smith Vertex 100
If you already have a tank water heater setup, the Vertex 100 is the way to go. It boasts a 90-percent efficiency rating, better than anything else on the market. That means a 30-percent savings on your utility bill.
7. Motion sensor lights
Parents! No longer will you have to yell at your children for leaving the lights on when they leave the room. The Levion Decora 150 switch senses when the room is empty and kills the lights, saving you money in the process.
8. Toilet Lid Sink
Wash your hands -- with toilet water? Well, technically, yes, but it's hygienic. As you flush, clean water from the tank is first sent through the spigot to dispense for hand-washing, then it heads down to finish its original mission. It may sound silly, but give this innovation a chance, especially considering that most of us flush our waste with pristine and clean fresh water, only to send it off to the sewer.
9. Santerra Green Composting Toilets
Poo and pee is 90-percent water. This toilet/composter evaporates your, um, 'business' then turns what's left into compost. It promises to be odorless and save water, which is nice -- but the required periodic maintenance and emptying gives us pause.