Category Archives: Misc

Electricity conservation and the energy crisis

Much of the focus on the energy crisis in the UK has been upon the cars we drive, and with good reason. Cars burn fossil fuels, creating smog consisting of greenhouse gasses, which then traps the heat of the sun and warms the environment. This causes global warming, which is a very real threat to our continued well-being as a species.

 But you shouldn’t just focus on your car. Energy conservation at home can help play a part in the energy crisis, and electricity conservation can also put a few pounds in your pocket at the end of every month.

 I always remember learning this basic fact that, for each degree you lower your heat during the winter, your heating bill will be roughly 3% less. An added bonus of running cooler in winter is that you don’t feel the cold as much and you burn up to 100 more calories a day, without any effort.

 This applies in the summer as well, with the preponderance of air conditioners from DIY outlets going full blast morning, noon and night. When it comes to electricity conservation, it’s a year-round concern.

Why? Well,the risk of global warming is a real threat that could have devastating consequences.

 The following is from wikipedia.org’s entry on the subject:

 Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation. Global surface temperature increased during the last century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that increasing greenhouse gas concentrations resulting from human activity such as fossil fuel burning and deforestation caused most of the observed temperature increase since the middle of the 20th century. The IPCC also concludes that variations in natural phenomena such as solar radiation and volcanoes produced most of the warming from pre-industrial times to 1950 and had a small cooling effect afterward. These basic conclusions have been endorsed by more than 40 scientific societies and academies of science,[B] including all of the national academies of science of the major industrialized countries. A small number of scientists dispute the consensus view.

 Climate model projections summarized in the latest IPCC report indicate that the global surface temperature will probably rise further during the twenty-first century. The uncertainty in this estimate arises from the use of models with differing sensitivity to greenhouse gas concentrations and the use of differing estimates of future greenhouse gas emissions. Some other uncertainties include how warming and related changes will vary from region to region around the globe. Most studies focus on the period up to the year 2100. However, warming is expected to continue beyond 2100 even if emissions stop, because of the large heat capacity of the oceans and the long lifetime of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

 An increase in global temperature will cause sea levels to rise and will change the amount and pattern of precipitation, probably including expansion of subtropical deserts. The continuing retreat of glaciers, permafrost and sea ice is expected, with warming being strongest in the Arctic. Other likely effects include increases in the intensity of extreme weather events, species extinctions, and changes in agricultural yields.

 But even if you drive is not to combat global warming, being energy efficient means you can have more money for those “rainy days” that can catch us out once in a while.

Handmade soap

There is no comparison between real handmade soap and commercial soaps that are available on store shelves everywhere. According to various reliable online sources, soap is basically water, lye, and fats or oils. When a lye and water solution is mixed with the fats, the chemical reaction is called “saponification”, which is the reaction of hydrogen, oxygen, sodium, and fatty acid molecules, resulting in about three parts soap and one part glycerin. Glycerin is a rich emollient prized for its ability to moisturize the skin and is retained in handmade soaps, but is extracted in commercial soap as a valuable by-product leaving the hard dry bars of soap sold at Wal-Mart and elsewhere. Properly prepared handmade soaps have no lye remaining, and it cannot be made without it.

Handmade soap is rich and moisturizing, soothes and softens the skin, and cleanses without drying. Handmade items for the bath and spa leave even sensitive, allergy-prone skin feeling wonderfully moisturized, luxuriously soft and smooth. Soaps and other skin products are beautifully scented with rosewater, organic herbs, and flowers grown in organic gardens. Handmade soaps, herbal bath and beauty products, skin care gift baskets, and handcrafted natural toiletries can be purchased online from soap makers and retailers around the world. Countryrosesoap.com offers a complete range of natural handmade bath and body products including handmade natural soaps, bath bombs, shampoos, and more. Lush.com is another site that features lush fresh handmade soaps in addition to natural cosmetics and beauty tips. For pure gentle and natural home made glycerin soaps visit Carrie’s Creations at www.handmade-soaps.com, where you can find more natural handmade bath and body products.

Makers of handmade soaps often use various ingredients like olive oil or fresh goat milk, in addition to pure essential oils and fragrances, like soaps featured by Alabu.com makers of all-natural farm fresh goat milk soap, and OliveOilSoap.com that offers pure handmade olive oil soaps and body products. You’ll find a comprehensive listing of makers of handmade soaps from small and large companies all over the world, that make their own handmade soaps completely from scratch. Choose from scented, unscented, colored, swirled or layered soaps, round soap, or just plain and simple soap. Handcrafted soaps, handmade soaps, herbal soaps, or natural soaps are the gentlest, silkiest most latherful soaps you can buy. Light a candle, grab your favorite bar of soap, add some water, and in no time you’ll feel renewed; use this simple pleasure as an act of loving kindness to yourself.

Get a Healthy Glow with Organic Skin Care Products

Have you ever looked at the ingredients label on your favorite bottle of moisturizer or foundation? Chances are, the list contains lots of chemicals that are practically impossible to pronounce. Have you ever wondered what kind of long-term effects these chemicals can have on your face? I have, which is why I switched to organic skin care products about a year ago. Now my face has a healthy glow that makes me look years younger and far healthier than ever!

My friends have noticed the difference, and asked me to share my secret. I told them about my new regimen that consists of only organic skin care products, thinking they would immediately share my enthusiasm. I was therefore surprised to see my revelation met with a bit of skepticism. Apparently, my friends had tried some items marked “all-natural”, but didn’t get the results they were after. After asking them a few follow-up questions, it seems that they weren’t really using the right brands. Because it’s so trendy to be natural these days, many manufacturers are decorating their packaging with pretty flowers adding a touch of herbal extract, and marketing their stuff as organic skin care products. Obviously that’s not what I meant!

In order to find the best organic skin care products, it’s essential that you do some research first. If you have a beauty consultant or esthetician that you regularly see at the salon or spa, then she can probably start you out with some great recommendations. This would be the best route, since the person is already familiar with your skin and any specific issues (such as oiliness or dryness) that you might have. Also, your regular esthetician is likely to be aware of your general budget and how much you usually spend on beauty creams or whatnot, so she’ll be able to recommend a product that you can afford.

If you don’t have a consultant, then you can just do some online research. Take inventory of your usual beauty supplies first, and then try to find organic skin care products to replace the ones you use. This could be anything from moisturizer to cold cream, wrinkle cream, toner, cleanser, serum, makeup, and even bath gels. Once you figure out which items you want to buy, go ahead and check for some organic skin care products that have a good reputation among consumers. There are lots of customer review websites and beauty-related message boards where people can offer their personal opinions and experiences with a particular product, and these are often wonderful places to find unbiased information.

Switching to organic skin care products can help you start looking your very best. If you haven’t gone all natural yet, then you could be doing more damage to your face than good. Make the change today!

Answer Job Interview Questions

Most of us have some level of anxiety walking into an interview; it can be extremely overwhelming and difficult to concentrate. When you interview for a job, you want to put your best foot forward and demonstrate that you are the right person for the job. By familiarizing yourself with how to answer job interview questions ahead of time, your chances of securing the job increase significantly. Interviewers are adept at asking job interview questions and your success depends primarily on how you answer these pertinent questions. Some may appear overly direct, but the intention is always the same; the interviewer(s) simply want to find out if you’re really the best candidate for the job. Familiarity with the company and the types of questions the interviewer will ask will greatly enhance your career, no matter how experienced and skilled you are.

You can find some great resources on how to answer job interview questions from numerous online employment resources. Find out the top five most asked job interview questions and how to answer them confidently from sites like www.workbloom.com and many others. The most common opening question is usually “tell me about yourself”, which is your opportunity to positively introduce yourself and your employment history, highlighting your unique qualifications, primary strengths, achievements, and other positive contributions you can bring to the job and the company. It is definitely to your benefit to know as much as possible about the company you’re applying to work at, be confident, and expect to answer job interview questions like, “what are your weaknesses?” or “what did you hate most about your last job?” Instead of digging yourself a hole, highlight a trait the interviewer will perceive as strength, such as your superb attention to detail and how you expect the same from your colleagues.

Aside from your resume, a job interview is the only thing standing between you and your dream job. Make sure you dress well; no t-shirt and jeans or revealing party-wear. Smile and project a positive enthusiastic attitude, and remember your manners and communicate clearly and audibly. Bring a fresh copy of your resume and cover letter too, even if they already have one. Afterward, send a thank you email later that day, and don’t wait until the next day or the day after. If you haven’t heard anything in a week, give the hiring manager a call to ask if they are close to making a decision, or if they already have. Taking on new challenges and greater responsibility should be emphasized when you answer job interview questions, because going without aspirations or career goals makes you appear unmotivated. Act like you really want the job and you’ll probably get it; attitude is everything!

Employee Privacy

Employee right to privacy is a pretty new concept in business, but one that is catching on fast. Whether you are a manager or a worker, it definitely makes sense to put some thought into employee privacy rights. There are many different approaches in different businesses, and the courts haven’t really decided what they think yet. In short, we are in the middle of a social debate about employee privacy. Which way will the debate go? That is up to all of us to decide together.

In business, I am a big fan of employee privacy. I feel like as long as my employees get the job done, that is all that matters.

You see, giving my employees privacy is a matter of respect for me. I feel that the office environment should be based, as much as possible, on mutual respect. If I acknowledge my employees have a right to self-determination, pay them well, and give them good benefits, they will in turn enjoy working for me. Loyal employees are productive employees, and employees that stay with the company for a long time. Therefore, it is to all of our advantages when employee privacy and other employee rights are respected.

I know other people in business, however, who have much different views on employee privacy. A lot of the time, the argument is made that an employees privacy stops at the door. Everything you do while you are on the job should be related to the job.

For me, it all seems to come down to management styles. I am very laid back. I like to see responsible, hard-working employees. As such, I give them freedom and expect them to do their work in a timely and efficient manner. Other people, however, see things much differently. If you work in a large company, you might see your employees more as cogs in a machine. If you primarily demand strict obedience to office codes rather than self-motivation and independence, workplace privacy probably is not that important to your business model.

URGENT – This is not a circular, CRC (Carbon Reduction Commitment ESS Scheme)

I got this email below today

You should have been receiving correspondence from the Environment Agency in relation to the Carbon Reduction Commitment ESS Scheme. The deadline of 30th September 2010 is fast approaching for all organisations with Half Hourly Metered Electricity supplies to complete their online registration. Please note that should you miss this deadline the penalty may be invoked of £5,000 fine imposed immediately with a further £500 per working day to a maximum of 80 working days. Based on the Half Hourly meters that TEBL administer contracts on your behalf, we believe that you are to register as an Information Declarer. You are required to only declare information and are not a full participant in the scheme. However, please ensure that you look to the highest UK parent organisation and should you believe that based on Calendar 2008 your organisation did use over the 6,000MWh’s of Half Hourly metered usage, then please contact Victoria Clarke ASAP to discuss the options and implications. Please can you look to complete the required registration via the CRC online registry on the Environment Agency Website and confirm by reply once this has been done so that we are able to update our records.

Basically no need to panic, just register on the site and you get a CRC registration number and fill out a form (information disclosure), regarding you energy usage.

Direct Transport website?

I met with a journalist last night called Richard Hammond who put me onto a website called http://www.transportdirect.info which allows you to make journeys using a mix of public transport. There is even a cycle route web widget.

I have just put a webwidget on our website, so if you want to calculate the best sustainable route to a destibnation you can.

Solar Panel that is on the roof of the Crown Spa Hotel

What have you been up to lately?

Attended the Y10 conference recently and was asked “what have we been doing on the green front lately?”

We installed the bio-boilers and are now moving them again to a more permanent location in transport container. All is not lost as the old pipe work will be used for the new laundry equipment as the laundry needed to expand with the increase in demand from the hotel business. I am very pleased as it is a good opportunity to install a new 10foot high accumulator which will make the heating system more efficient.

Rainwater harvesting install is going to plan and is already supplying the public toilets with rain water harvested from the roof.

Solar panels, these are producing a lot of hot water and the pool is presently the main benefactor as at this time of year most heat is produced when guests have left their rooms and are exploring the local area, at this time the control system is manually (will be fully automatic shortly) switched over to the pool heating circuit. The gas consumption in the pool area has fallen by 20% in the last month (year on year) for the pool boilers, though overall gas consumption is up in the financial year to date due to the cold weather in January 2010 which resulted in 30% increase in gas consumption that month.

LED lights, I am just about to place another order for LEDs (due to a lot of enquires), we will be shortly selling these items on eBay having satisfied ourselves that our supply’s are good quality. Overall the electricity usage did increase a little overall in January 2010 on prior year (bad weather and gloomy days), I am happy that the total financial year to date consumption is down on last year (again!)

So overall since November 2009 (the start of our financial year) to February 2010 we are

2% up on KG’s CO2 from gas consumption on prior year,

6.5% down on KG’s CO2 from electricity consumption on prior year,

35% down on CO2 from water consumption on prior year,

Resulting in a 2.5% less CO2 from the combined CO2 from power, light, heat and water consumption.

( NB Different types of energy are used to different quantities in the business, our biggest fossil fuel derived CO2 culprit is electricity, then gas then water, so if you really want to make big “inroads” into reduction of fossil fuel derived CO2 just turn the electrical items off when not in use, replace inefficient bulbs and turn that thermostat down!) You do not need to invest in expensive projects until you do the simple stuff that works first!

You also need to consider your own organisations circumstances, requirments and main useage culprits!

New In-House Laundry Opens

The LaundryToday we sent the laundry back to Sunlight, why? Well because we were very conscious of the environmental impact of the the lorry to Durham and back 5 days per week with our laundry. I have performed very through calculations and I hope they are right or else I will be eating a large helping of humble pie!

UPDATED January 2009; I now have one full months worth of meter readings for the laundry and I have made extrapolation calculations below, so it looks like no humble pie for myself.

Previously

  1. the Sunlight lorry traveled 180 miles (290 257.5Km) round trip in lorry which produced 272kgs of CO2 per trip with 260 trips per year giving a total CO2 output of 70 metric tonnes of fossil fuel derived Co2 per annum.

*Assumption for diesel fuel 2.68 kg’s of CO2 per litre diesel consumed and a lorry consumes roughly 0.35 litres per kilometre traveled.

The new laundry consumes

15m3 fresh water per month 300m3 or 23kg’s fossil fuel derived Co2 per year (though this should vastly decrease by 70% when the gray water system is installed)
The laundry equipment consumes 1500 m3 of gas per month or 39 metric tonnes fossil fuel derived Co2 per year (though this should decrease by 50% when the wood burning boilers are installed)
The laundry uses roughly 96Kwhrs of electricity per day for 365days per year or 15 metric tonnes fossil fuel derived Co2 per year.

Therefore roughly laundry fossil fuel derived Co2 produced as now 54 metric tonnes of Co2 per annum. Saving roughly 16 metric tonnes of co2 per year (1.75 households).
When wood burning boilers installed fossil fuel produced as now 35 metric tonnes of Co2 per annum. Saving roughly 35 metric tonnes Co2 per year (3.5 households).

Additional plus points

  • 3 full time jobs for the local economy.
  • Better quality linen can be used.
  • Financially the project breaks even after 18months, allowing for reserves to be accumulated to replace equipment as required after 3 years.
  • Managed to recover 2 extra bedrooms from old linen stores as we had to store more linen in the previous scenario.

Effergy Meters (now called Owl Meters)?

I Bought 5 more effergy meters today for the lead management team £36 each. Basically it is a meter that measures the amount of electricity consumed in either Kw hr’s, Co2, Max Power usage etc… The best bit is the power alarm, basically the alarm goes off at 5KW’s. Effergy Meter

UPDATED September 2008; the team have really benefited from these meters, my own electric bill recently landed on the door step and it has reduced from £185 for August quarter 2007 to £89 August 2008 quarter end. The alarm works the best as we learnt early on the you either had the choice of the dishwasher or tumble dryer on at the same time as boiling the kettle. We regularly run at less than 500 watts now I have fitted the LED lights in the house. The really interesting thing is that the management team wail not give me back the meters either; as they have had similar results to myself.

UPDATED August 2009 Over the last year I have bought around £350 of these excellent devices for the crew.