Are We "Clueless" on Saving Energy!?


Americans Are Clueless on Saving Energy


Stop telling people to just switch off the lights—it’s confusing them.

Despite all the talk about carbon footprints and the rows of compact fluorescent light bulbs at every hardware store in the U.S., consumers have no idea how much energy they use and don't understand the best ways to reduce consumption, according to a new study.
The shift to educating, and empowering, consumers has been critical in the past among utilities and smart grid startups in the home area network space. But the study shows that most efforts to date have left Americans clueless and simply doing less of their regular behavior, without looking at simple changes that could reap bigger gains in efficiency.
"Of course we should be doing everything we can. But if we're going to do just one or two things, we should focus on the big energy-saving behaviors," said lead author Shahzeen Attari, a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University's Earth Institute and the university's Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, in a statement. "People are still not aware of what the big savers are."
Nearly 20 percent of approximately 500 study participants listed turning off lights as the best way to save energy. Furthermore, most of the people had no idea how much energy a truck uses in comparison to a train or ship, or how much energy a room air conditioner uses versus central AC. Overall, participants were more willing to somewhat curtail their actions rather than to invest in real efficiency, even if the latter would save more energy and money over the long run.
The results of the study, published in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, were slightly more promising when examining less energy-intensive behaviors. Although people's understanding was generally poorer when the potential for energy or carbon dioxide savings were large, they were more accurate on a smaller scale. For example, most participants were able to guesstimate the savings of swapping out an incandescent with a CFL or adjusting the thermostat in summer.
Those in the study also overrated the savings of many activities, including driving slowly on the highway, recycling glass containers or unplugging chargers when not in use. Even people who described themselves as having a high degree of pro-environmental behavior did not always report engaging in a large number energy-efficient habits and actions.
Although the study had some limitations, including the moderate sample size and a lack of incentives for correct answers, the conclusions are stark. "Many people's concerns about energy are simply not strong enough, relative to their other concerns, to warrant learning about energy conservation," the study authors write.
So for utilities and regulators looking to cut energy consumption through efficiency, how do you get people to care? For one, stop telling people to turn off lights when they leave the room. The conversation must become more sophisticated.
The problem with many of the smaller energy savings actions that are constantly suggested is that they don't offer enough gain for the effort. "We're all very instant gratification animals," said Daniel Moneta from MMB Research, an engineering firm that makes a family of ZigBee smart energy hardware and software for commercial vendors.  "From an economic standpoint, we all should have replaced our old bulbs with CFLs. If you do the math, you'd save money."
Instead of just providing actionable information, campaigns need to include information about relative effectiveness of those actionable items. For example, many people thought that line-drying clothes would save more energy than changing their washer settings, according to the study, but the opposite is true. The study also pointed out that people will often make just one or two changes and think they are doing enough, so it might be a better strategy for utilities and government programs to communicate the best two or three actions to get the most bang for the buck.
Public education campaigns and web portals should not only recommend individual actions, but should also strive to paint a picture for people about which actions, both in the home and as consumers, can save the most money and energy.
"If we have that number in front of us all of the time, and we look at it in comparison to our Facebook friends," said Moneta, "we can see that one device next to another device has a better [contextual] meaning. I think that will certainly help to motivate customers."

University cuts power bill 10 percent through asset management


Forrester Research recently reported that something like 45 percent of businesses are investing in some sort of enterprise software for managing energy consumption. A case study that shows how Bentley University has been using one such application, Infor EAM Asset Sustainability, gives you a sense of why this is so–and why this sort of thing isn't just for big companies.

The university originally looked to the Infor software as a means of automating maintenance workflow across its 46 facilities. More recently, it began wondering how to apply this same automation to managing its electricity consumption. Specifically, by integrating the software with building control systems to get a better sense of what was operating properly, and what metrics should be questioned. The software also helps with preventive maintenance.

When I spoke with the Bentley University energy systems engineer, Jess Marshall, about the project, she says the overall mission is to manage each building system (or "asset") so that it is running at its most optimal levels. By managing these technologies to certain guidelines — recognizing that each day brings new operating variables in the form of weather changes and building occupancy — the university can keep things running more smoothly, she says.

"We understand how a piece of equipment should be running vs. how it IS running," Marshall says.

So, for example, the university staff was able to see that one of its chillers was working at a dramatically different rate than the others. It was consuming 20 percent more electricity. So, the engineers adjusted the settings and made a different chiller the lead system for that building, using the more energy-hungry one as a backup, Marshall says.

In the first 11 months of using the software, Marshall says the university has reduced electricity consumption campus-wide by almost 10 percent. That's more than 2 million kilowatt hours, or the equivalent of turning off all the electricity on the campus for about 30 days.

Marshall says, where necessary, the university is using basic energy meters from Schneider Electric to feed the data into the Info software. Some of the building systems can interact with the software directly.

The visual is a Thermographic Building Summary of the university's Kresge Hall. The gray areas are unoccupied space, while the green shows occupied portions.

Rod Elsworth, vice president of global asset sustainability for Infor, says the sustainability edition of its enterprise asset management application can be licensed according to the number of concurrent users or according to the number of meters that are feeding information.

Heather Clancy

Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist with a passion for green technology and corporate sustainability issues. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. In a past corporate life, Heather was editor of Computer Reseller News, where she was a featured speaker about everything from software as a service to IT security to mobile computing.

Heather started her journalism life as a business writer with United Press International in New York. She holds a B.A. in English literature from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, and has a thing for Lewis Carroll.


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The Future of Infrared Cameras

Lyon, France — Initially developed for the military market by US defense companies, use of uncooled infrared (IR) cameras in commercial applications has been growing over the last ten years. In the infrared spectrum, Long Wave Infrared (LWIR) is the most commonly used wavelength (8-12 microns). Thermography and a variety of vision enhancement applications are the main growth markets for uncooled IR cameras.

This camera cost reduction will continue through 2015 in the thermography business and will also be a strong factor in the vision market (also called night vision or vision enhancement) with the growth of the security/surveillance and automotive markets.

Driven by the continued cost reductions, the volumes of cameras sold will triple by 2015 from more than 200,000 cameras today to more than 700,000 units, meaning +23 % annual growth rate. The revenue growth will be about + 9% as market prices for the cameras decrease.
FLIR (US) has been, and remains, the pioneer of uncooled IR cameras with a vertically integrated business model (internal detector production) and a presence in all markets. This domination will be challenged at two levels in the future:

At the camera level: camera manufacturers specialized in each market have strong distribution networks and market presence. In the thermography business, Fluke will take market share from FLIR. In the security/surveillance market, visible camera leaders will enter the IR camera business (Axis, Bosch, Pelco).
At the detector level: new detector suppliers will arrive on the market from the MEMS and semiconductor industry with low cost/high volume product capabilities (Sensonor, Bosch, Faun Infrared…).
One of the major cost components for uncooled IR cameras is the IR detector. Hence, detector cost reduction is one of the major keys to further widespread use of IR cameras.

Microbolometers are the dominant uncooled IR detector technology with more than 95 % of the market in 2010.

Microbolometer manufacturers were few up to now, often owned by camera manufacturers, which limited the cost competition at the detector level. More than 75 % of the production is based in USA, due the original development of the technology by US Defense Department.

This landscape will change in the next five years: many new players (Sensonor, Faun Infrared, Bosch…), focusing only on selling detectors, often in Europe, will enter on the market place with aggressive price strategies.

Vanadium Oxide (VO x), the current dominant microbolometer material, will be challenged by a-Si material and new silicon based materials introduced by new market entrants, thanks to their cost structure, and easier to manufacture.

Detector/Microbolometer product lines are mainly segmented by format from small format (typically 160 x 120) to large format (640 x 480). Price reduction will be huge with –58 % expected between 2010 and 2015 for small format. Larger format will be under less price pressure.

The following technical trends make detector cost reduction possible:

At the packaging level: Wafer Level Packaging and even Pixel Level Packaging will play a huge part in reducing cost, -20 % at least.
At the pixel level: smaller pixel size (17 microns is becoming a standard) will allow smaller detectors.
At the integration level: 3D integration, wafer bonding techniques will allow the production of microbolometers in standard MEMS or CMOS foundries.


Axis Communications, Acreo, Aerius, Agiltron, Argus, e2v, Audi, Autoliv, BAE systems, BMW, Bosch, Automotive, Bosch Security Systems, Bullard, Dali, Chauvin Arnoux, Current Corporation, Dalsa, DAS Photonics, Draeger, DRS technologies, Electro Optic Sensors, EO C, ETH , Extech, GE Security, FocalPlane Santa Barbara, Fraunhofer IMS, Faun Infrared, FLIR, Fluke, GM, Goodrich, Guide Infrared, Honda, Honeywell, Infrared Solutions, INO , Ipht Jena, Invisage, Irisys, ISG , Jenoptik, KTH , L3Com, Leti, MetuMET , Mikrosistemler, Mitsubishi Electric, MSA , Murata, NE C Avio, NTT , Noble Peak Vision, OKS I, Omnivision, Panasonic, Pelco, QinetiQ, Raytheon, Redshift, Sarnoff, Satir, Samsung, Scott, SCD Semiconductors, SensArray Infrared, Sensonor, Silex, Sirica, Sony, Sumitomo Electric, Testo, Thermoteknix Systems, Toshiba, Tyco, Tyndall, Umicore, Ulis, Vigo, Xenics, Ziptronix.

HOME STAR Profiled in Home Energy Magazine

The proposed HOME STAR energy retrofit program is the focus of an article published in the May/June issue of Home Energy Magazine, coauthored by Efficiency First’s national director, Jared Asch, and the association’s policy chair, Matt Golden. The article begins:

For years, those of us who work in the energy remodeling field have been promoting the personal and environmental benefits of home performance retrofits. Now industry leaders and policymakers are focusing on yet another compelling reason for Americans to invest in energy efficiency improvements—they create jobs. With one in four construction workers currently facing long-term unemployment, our nation desperately needs to cultivate sustainable employment opportunities that will breathe life into the troubled construction sector and help our economy get back on track. Large-scale retrofitting of American homes can be a big part of the solution.

Asch and Golden go on to provide a basic overview of the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act now pending in Congress. If you’re not already familiar with this important legislation, the Home Energy article is a good place to begin. Read the full text online at

Infrfared to be Incorporated in the Gaming Industry - Specifically, Microsoft's XBOX 360

Project Natal takes on Wii
Republished from The Los Angeles Times

REDMOND, Wash. — On a blustery January morning, Michel Laprise found himself in a private conference room within Microsoft Corp.’s labyrinthine campus here, surrounded by 15 of the company’s sharpest analytical thinkers.

Laprise started his presentation by dumping a pail full of sand on top of the conference table, alarming executives who worried about the wiring embedded in the table for PowerPoint presentations and technology demos. Armed with three rocks, a small wooden elephant and a flashlight, he spent an hour weaving a tale of a boy on a quest to locate meteors that have fallen from the sky and to uncover their meaning.
At the end of his talk, the artistic director for Cirque du Soleil got a standing ovation.
“It was amazing,” said an awestruck Don Mattrick, the 46-year-old executive who heads up the juggernaut’s multibillion-dollar video game business. Mattrick had invited Laprise to help Microsoft figure out an unconventional way to launch a new technology that would let people play games without the use of joysticks or controllers. “He used the power of words to share what he saw in his imagination. He was a great raconteur.”

Code-named Project Natal, the technology consists of three small motorized sensors — a camera, infrared depth sensor and a multi-array microphone. Attached to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 game console, the device interprets gestures, such as when players swing their arms to hit a golf ball, lean to steer their way through an obstacle course or swivel their hips through a dance routine. It also can recognize faces and associate them with their profiles.

For the last 35 years, Microsoft has strived to push technology into every corner of the world. Its Windows operating system powers 90 percent of all computers, and its software can be found on devices that sit in people’s pockets, purses, cars and living rooms. Yet in an ironic twist, the company’s next big feat required Microsoft to make its high-tech wizardry invisible.

So it hired one of the best illusionists out there — Cirque du Soleil, the French Canadian entertainment company known for its visually arresting extravaganzas and ethereal, new age music. In addition to the 21 permanent and traveling shows, Cirque has a special events business that does a handful of private and corporate events each year (clients have included the royal family of Dubai and the 2007 Super Bowl).

For Microsoft, Natal is critical to the future of its ambition to be at the center of entertainment in the living room. And like a besotted suitor who spared no expense, Microsoft gave Cirque free rein over both the creative aspects of the performance and its budget.

“This is a massive investment for Microsoft,” said Aaron Greenberg, Microsoft’s executive producer for the company’s E3 events. “For us, it wasn’t about the money. It was about creating an experience that would be remembered forever.”

In this incarnation, Natal is applied to video games. Designed to perch on top of a living room TV and attach to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 game console, the device can recognize faces, obey simple voice commands and track body movements and gestures.

It has been compared with Nintendo Co.’s Wii, which rocked the video game world in 2006 with its motion-sensing Wii remote. Natal is Microsoft’s attempt to one-up Nintendo, which has sold an estimated 74 million Wii consoles, compared with 43 million Xbox 360s. While the Wii has gained traction with a broad demographic ranging from toddlers to seniors, the Xbox 360 is perceived as a “hard-core” game machine for adrenaline junkies looking for elaborate ways to blow things up.

“Microsoft is deadly serious about expanding their reach with Natal,” said Michael Pachter, analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles. “But people buy consoles based on the software, and right now, we just don’t know what games are actually going to be on there. Once we get a chance to see those games, then we can better evaluate things.”

Another challenge: Getting the attention of consumers who don’t normally play video games, much less the shoot-em-up’s that the Xbox 360 is known for.

EasyJet Using Infrared Technology to Avoid Ash Clouds Surrounding Iceland

EasyJet will use infrared technology to help its aircraft avoid the remains of the ash cloud caused by the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano.
The Luton-based airline is trialling a new technology called AVOID (Airborne Volcanic Object Identifier and Detector); a system that involves placing infrared technology on an aircraft to supply images to both the pilots and an airline’s flight control centre. The system produces images that will enable pilots to see ash clouds up to 100km ahead of the aircraft and at altitudes of between 5,000ft and 50,000ft.
At ground control level, staff will be able to use information from the AVOID system to build an accurate image of the volcanic ash cloud in real time, and subsequently open up large areas of airspace that would otherwise be closed during a volcanic eruption.
Dr Fred Prata, senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), invented the AVOID system. He said: “AVOID enhances the theory around volcanic ash clouds with live data. EasyJet is committed to bring our technology to life.”
The first test flight is to be carried out by Airbus on behalf of EasyJet within two months. If it proves successful, EasyJet will trial the technology on its own planes with a view to installing it on enough aircraft to minimise future disruption from ash.