Most Efficient Cooker Ever

This is a thermally insulated pressure cooker. We're not going to buy our way out of the environmental crisis, but certain purchases can make a big difference if they reduce our consumption of fossil fuels.

Pressure and Insulation for Efficiency

Pressure cooking is a super-efficient way to cook. A pressure cooker "can drop the consumption [of energy] by ... 68 percent ... compared to a flat-bottomed pot" (Stoyke, 2007, p. 80). It's so efficient because when it's under pressure, water can boil at a much higher temperature (about 120 degree Celcius), which makes the food cook faster.  read more... »

Cut Your Carbon - 8 Summer Actions for Dramatic Results

Tomato SeedlingsBelieve it or not, you can drastically reduce your carbon emissions this summer without having to afford a several hundred dollar appliance purchase. These 8 carbon-cutting actions offer fun and easy choices you can make to fight climate change.

1. Grow something tastier than grass

According to calorie-count.com, one hour of gardening will take care of 280 calories - about one grande Starbucks whole milk latte. Plus, New Brunswick’s Fallsbrook Centre tells us that the average meal travels 2400 Km to reach our plates. That’s roughly the distance between Montreal and Winnipeg - every meal!  read more... »

Solar Awning (Part 1)

Constructing a net zero energy home in Edmonton, Alberta is extremely challenging because this is a cold place. Thankfully, it's also a sunny place. Still, in order to achieve the net zero standard, factors such as energy efficiency, insulating values and solar energy collection need to be maximized.

Peter the builder and I came up with the idea of an adjustable solar awning system that will increase by about 10% the amount of energy that the Mill Creek NetZero Home (MCNZH) produces annually.

I just wrote a proposal to help fund the prototype solar awning that we will put on the MCNZH. Here are some excerpts. Sorry for the formal tone, and warning: the following may be for eco-nerds only.

Passive Solar Energy

The MCNZH is designed to passively collect a large amount of solar heat through its south-facing windows. In fact, the 3642 kWh of solar heat that will be captured through the windows represent 46% of the annual space heating required by the MCNZH. With such a large area of south-facing windows, though, there is considerable risk of the home overheating.

In a home as well-insulated as the MCNZH will be, there are “…severe restrictions in the amount of south windows that can be used without excessive overheating” (CMHC, 2005, p.53). “Increasing the window overhang[, however,] allows for additional south glazing” (CMHC, 2005, p.54). In order to remain comfortable for its occupants, then, the south windows must be shaded by overhangs.

The installation of overhangs presents a compromise between maximum solar energy capture and occupant comfort. HOT2000 simulations show that the MCNZH will capture 314 kWh less annually if equipped with overhangs (HOT2000 is a residential building performance evaluation software distributed by Natural Resources Canada (Natural Resources Canada, n.d.)).  read more... »

The Bulb

Change your light bulbs. Environmentalists and other green types have been begging us to do it for years now. Regular incandescent light bulbs waste 95% of electricity that we throw at them, among other reasons to switch.

Nonetheless, "Incandescents filled 85% of sockets in 2002 compared to less than 2% for Compact Fluorescents" (source).  read more... »