SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Ah, summertime. Sunny days, outdoor barbeques, lazy days at the pool. As you gear up for summertime fun, consider giving your house an efficiency check-up so you don’t get stuck with high energy bills. These low-to-no-cost energy efficiency tips can help you reduce energy use, save money and increase your comfort level during the dog days of summer:
Flip It – Turn off your lights, computers, televisions and other equipment when you are not in the room. Watch this video!
Switch It – Switch out all incandescent bulbs with CFLs or LEDs. These bulbs use 75% less energy and last up to 10 times longer than standard bulbs.
Set It – The Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat at 78 degrees during the summer when at home and adjusting it at night and when away.
Program It – Purchase a programmable thermostat and set it to increase the temperatures in the summer by 2-3 degrees in your home at night and when away. Energy Star estimates that with proper use of a programmable thermostat (using the four pre-programmed settings), you can save about $180 every year in energy costs.
Unplug It – Devices like your cell phone charger, gaming system and power strips use energy – even when you’re not using them. Reduce phantom load by unplugging all chargers and electronic devices when not in use.
Close It – On sunny days, close blinds and curtains during the day to keep out solar heat.
Tune It – Give your air conditioning unit a check-up annually by a qualified heating and air contractor to make sure it’s working at peak efficiency.
Zap It – Consider using a microwave instead of the oven. Microwave ovens use up to 70 percent less energy than a conventional oven and emit no heat.
Hold It – Make sure you turn up your thermostat when you go away on vacation. There is no need to cool an empty home!
Audit It – Consider a home energy assessment by a professional auditor to help you identify additional energy-saving opportunities throughout your home.
Now, you’re ready. Kick off your shoes, relax and enjoy your summer!
With Memorial Day right around the corner, SACE honors those who have served and sacrificed for our country. In their honor, we wish to highlight the important work being done by the military in taking action on climate change and advancing clean energy.
The U.S. Department of Defense has identified climate change as a key security risk facing our nation as well as those around the world. DoD said in the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, “The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions – conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”
The Department of Homeland Security and top-ranking intelligence community officials agree with the DoD’s assessment. For example, Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, says that climate change contributes to “extreme water and food stress that can destabilize governments […] Terrorists, militants and international crime groups are certain to use declining local food security to gain legitimacy and undermine government authority.”
Meanwhile recent films have highlighted the security-climate-energy connection too.
Just last month a film was released, The Age of Consequences, which highlights the role of climate change impacts in driving resources scarcity such as drought and famine, which then in turn fuel armed conflict.
Last year, The Burden profiled the casualties caused by–and immense amount of military resources dedicated to–protecting fuel supply lines to power military operations, like fuel convoys and airdrops of oil. Between 2003 and 2007, one of every eight Army soldiers killed in duty in Iraq lost their lives to protect fuel convoys, while $85 billion is spent annually, about 17 percent of the Defense Department’s total budget, on protecting oil and shipping chokepoints such as the Strait of Hormuz and the Suez Canal.
The costs of the fossil fuel era in lives, wealth, and compromised security make the transition to clean, renewable energy a matter of great significance to national defense.
To this end, the Department of Defense has adopted a goal to source 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025, while the Department of the Navy is seeking 50 percent by 2020. The Navy has installed about one gigawatt of solar already.
Military bases in the Southeast are pushing forward in installing renewable energy to help meet the renewable energy goals. In Florida, the Navy and Air Force are working with Gulf Power to install three large solar installations at Eglin Air Force Base, Naval Air Station Pensacola, and Naval Air Station Whiting Field, which are collectively 120 megawatts. In Georgia, Marine Corps Logistic Base-Albany aims to be net-zero by the end of this year. It just broke ground on a 31 megawatt solar installation in partnership with Georgia Power, which along with energy efficiency investments as well as geothermal and a biomass facility, will allow the base to generate as much power as it uses. Camp Lejeune in North Carolina hosts a 13-megawatt solar farm on Duke Energy’s system.
We commend the military for advancing security through recognizing the defense risks of climate change and bolstering energy security with renewable energy and energy efficiency.
SACE is working on scheduling a webinar on national security and climate change with experts in the field. Are you interested in tuning in? Sign up on our interest form here and we’ll email you the details when it’s scheduled.
3. Will Congress Close the Coal Ash Landfill Loophole?
Send a letter to your members of Congress asking them to support this important bill
Representative Hank Johnson (D) of Georgia recently introduced the Coal Ash Landfill Safety Act (CALSA; H.R. 4827), would close a dangerous loophole in a federal coal ash rule by extending it to cover household garbage landfills that receive coal ash. The Southeast has more coal ash per capita than any other region of the country, so we hope Rep. Johnson’s southern colleagues will co-sponsor and publicly support this bill.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the federal coal ash rule to limit the health threats of coal ash pollution, but the rule doesn’t apply to household garbage landfills, or “Municipal Solid Waste” (MSW) landfills in official terms. Utilities are already trying to use this loophole to dump millions of tons of toxic ash in landfills that aren’t designed for it. Rep. Johnson’s bill would ensure communities near household waste landfills get the same protections as people who live near coal ash disposal sites covered under EPA’s rule, including groundwater monitoring and cleanup requirements.
CALSA ensures that at MSW landfills, coal ash isn’t stored within five feet of groundwater, groundwater monitoring programs are in place, fugitive dust is controlled, and that communities have critical information on spills and groundwater monitoring data, just like at other coal ash dumps.
Rep. Johnson’s leadership should be applauded as he and other members of Congress work to close this dangerous loophole in EPA’s coal ash rule. However, Congress is simultaneously considering S.2446, a bill that would undermine EPA’s rule and EPA’s authority to regulate coal ash at all. We need congress to act with urgency to ensure that every community has adequate protection from coal ash waste, instead of eliminating protection on behalf of utilities. You can help make it happen. Send a letter to your members of congress asking them to support this important bill!
Clean energy has seen a steady growth in the Carolinas over the past few years and so has the beer, wine and distillery industries! Put those two together and you have the components of the Green Spirits Awards. SACE staff has been researching the hottest breweries, wineries and distilleries across the Southeast that use clean energy and sustainability practices to produce tasty beverages.
First up, is Appalachian Mountain Brewery in Boone, North Carolina. AMB uses solar power in two ways. A 5-kilowatt solar array of high efficient solar panels is mounted on their southwest-facing roof. This array supplies power to their Tasting Room, which houses their beer and cider taps. Another very cool application of solar energy is in AMB’s food truck, which is powered by 20, 240-watt solar panels when parked at the brewery. There are also three smaller solar panels on the truck’s roof that provide power while they are out and about in the community. To read more about AMB’s sustainability efforts, click here.
Next award winner is Mother Earth Spirits. Mother Earth first put themselves on the map by brewing beer, but in 2014 they opened a small distillery to produce whiskey and gin (and soon rum). Both their brewery and distillery are powered by a 6-kilowatt rooftop solar array, which according to their website serves “as a tribute to the authority of that great star we orbit, familiarly known as the sun.” Mother Earth uses a steam-fired 60-gallon compound fractional still to create their whiskey and gin. Another impressive aspect of Mother Earth Spirits is their actual building, which received the Gold LEED certification in 2013. For more info on Mother Earth Spirits, click here.
Covering North Carolina wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the ever-popular Biltmore Estate and Winery. With thousands of annual visitors, the Biltmore provides an awesome example of the economic and environmental benefits for businesses who go solar. Their impressive 9-acre, 1.7-megawatt system features 7,000 solar panels and uses advanced technology to perform even on cloudy days. “America’s largest home” gets twenty percent of its power from clean, renewable solar energy. Read more about the Biltmore by clicking here.
Moving on to South Carolina, we are thrilled to highlight Legal Remedy Brewing Company in Rock Hill. This brewery is turning sun into beer with fun, alliterative law-themed names such as Alibi Ale, Motion to Strike Milk Stout and Pro Bono Porter. Powered by a 30-kilowatt solar power system, Legal Remedy was the first craft brewery in York County, SC and now has the capacity to produce 10,000 barrels of beer per year. In order to create shade for their beer garden, the owners added a veranda that was built with three 8-kilowatt arrays that are typically used for carports. For more on Legal Remedy Brewing, go here.
And finally, we present Holy City Brewing Company in North Charleston, South Carolina. Holy City took a different approach by crafting the Paradise Session Ale, a beer that’s equal parts celebration and protest – celebrating of the coast we love, and protesting offshore drilling that would jeopardize it. This light session ale (meaning very drinkable for many sessions) is crafted to be a perfect beer for enjoying while hanging out for hours with friends on the beach. Click here to read more about Holy City Brewing.
Cheers for Green Spirits and stay tuned for the next blog in this series. We also hope you’ll frequent these businesses during your next visit to the Carolinas.