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My Smart Phone is an Energy Waster? That’s Not Smart at All

January 15th, 2012

I have to admit that even though a dog is man’s best friend, my Android phone runs a very close second.  Yes I am one of those people that sleep with my smart phone at arms length, but I was shocked to learn how much energy I was wasting because of my smart phone after I read this article yesterday.

It turns out that I was guilty of daily energy loss because I don’t unplug the charger for my smart phone when it’s not in use and that my charger would continue to draw power from the grid even when my phone was not connected to it.  The article also points out that chargers from devices like smart phones, tablets and so on waste as much as 60% of the energy they consume.

Needless to say, as soon as I read that I immediately unplugged my charger and will be sure to do so for now on.  But let’s consider how many similar chargers you my find with walk through your work place.  How may device chargers might you find that are not being used?

The article also talks about new legislation in California that will require device manufactures to begin including a more energy efficient charger starting next year.  But let’s not wait for next year to do the smart thing.

At EnerChange, we’re always sharing ways to help you save money by saving energy.  This is one of those simple and sensible steps you can take today to make a difference.  Take a walk around your office building and see how may chargers you can find that are plugged in but not in use.  You may be surprised.

Energy Efficiency and Job Creation

November 7th, 2011

Rather than our regular Money post from Energy Now and their weekly TV magazine, we are running a re post of an article that first appeared in The Energy Collective that appeared last month that looks at job growth in the green energy sector and energy efficiency.

The national news has been focused lately on some high profile renewable energy failures. But they’ve been missing out on the bigger picture: clean energy jobs, powered by energy efficiency, are growing and here to stay. A recent report from Mark Muro and Jonathan Rothwell of the Brookings Institution shows that clean energy jobs are a robust and growing source of employment across the nation.  According to the report, “The clean economy, which employs some 2.7 million workers, encompasses a significant number of jobs in establishments spread across a diverse group of industries.”

Take a look at this chart from the Center for American Progress (thanks to the New England Clean Energy Council for the link):


Since 2003, energy efficiency has been a leader in job growth in the clean economy sector, adding over 120,000 jobs. If you include energy-saving building materials, green architecture and construction, professional energy savings, and HVAC and building controls, that figures rises to over 200,000 new jobs. And these jobs pay well, with a median wage 13 percent higher than the overall U.S. median wage. This is especially impressive in light of the current poor economic situation.

States in the Northeast get this. They have placed their bets on energy efficiency and clean energy as a big part of their economic future. This could be a major job creator in the years to come. Environment Northeast found as part of its “Energy Efficiency: Engine of Economic Growth” report that states with robust levels of investment in energy efficiency  electric, natural gas, and unregulated fuel savings programs could generate over 80,000 new jobs in New England alone. That’s a significant number of “green shoots.” NEEP plans to work with our partners to help get a better picture of the growth of energy efficiency jobs in the region and help keep this engine of economic growth moving.


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Can 7 Billion People be Sustainable?

October 31st, 2011

Happy Halloween EnerChange readers.  Not only is today Halloween, but as we are sure you have heard, October 31st 2011 is the day that planet earth has reached 7 BILLION people on the planet.

As many of the posts you find on our blog, we discuss energy efficiency and sustainability and the future.  But the future is also impacted by the fact that we have never, in the history of mankind, had to figure out how to remain sustainable with 7 billion people demanding access to the same resources we have always had.  How will 7 billion people effect the demands for  resources?

When we consider the resources with higher demand, we need to consider everything from landfills to sewage treatment plants.  In this week’s episode of Energy Now, we will see  how innovators around the country are working on ways to reduce humanity’s environmental footprint and get more from our waste. This week, energyNOW! explores the ways people are “going green” in unlikely areas.

Natural resources may be limited, but humanity’s consumption guarantees an abundance of one unlikely “resource” – garbage. On average, a typical American throws out about four pounds of trash per day, or more than 240 million tons of garbage every year. Most of that waste winds up in landfills and releases methane as it decomposes. But what if that gas could be harnessed as a clean energy source?


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This Week’s U.S. Clean Energy News from EnergyNow!

August 8th, 2011

I was happy to catch this episode of Energy Now on Bloomberg TV yesterday.  It was new to watch the report on TV.  In this week’s episode, Energy Now reports on;

  • The growing renewable energy environment in Israel and how energy independence has a significantly deeper meaning in this part of the world.
  • How silicone valley has seen a significant shift from dot com technologies to innovations in renewable energy.
  • An interview and the politics of renewable energy in the U.S. now.

Understanding our Carbon Mess, Carbon Capture Innovations and “Clean” Coal

August 2nd, 2011

 In this week’s episode from our friends at the weekly Energy News Magazine Energy Now

  • In the first segment in this weeks Energy Now News, we get a lesson in Carbon 101
  • A deeper look at issues and advancements in carbon capture
  • In a “you gotta see this” report on one method of carbon capture, it reveals a simply amazing solution that we can all get behind.  It could revolutionize gas production by closing the carbon loop.
  • In the last segment, we hear an honest pro versus con debate on the issues of “clean” coal and the future of US energy production along with some surprising statements supporting US Cap and Trade programs and carbon capture.

Each week Energy Now provides us a deeper understanding of energy production, sustainability and renewable energy.  We believe that information is the first step towards progress in these issues.  Quaility information and reporting fills the vacuum that is to often filled by political posturing and special interest messages.  You can also see Energy Now on Bloomberg in your local area.


Special Screening for The Last Mountain to benefit Windustry

July 9th, 2011

It’s easy to forget that each time we turn on a light, we are contributing to the ecological damage caused by the coal that generates electricity in this country. “The Last Mountain” gives us plenty of reasons to remember: Contaminated air, soil, and water; coal dust; cancer clusters, and toxic sludge are all by-products of this widespread energy source.

Focusing on the devastating effects of mountaintop coal removal in West Virginia’s Coal River Valley, filmmaker Bill Haney illustrates the way residents and activists are standing up to the industry and major employer that is so deeply embedded in the region. With strong support from Bobby Kennedy Jr. as well as grassroots organizations, awareness is rising in the battle over Appalachian mountaintop mining. Forces are aligning to prevent coal removal on Coal River Mountain and preserve the region’s precious natural resources. Superb storytelling and exquisite photography combine to remind us that this environmental calamity impacts us all.

“You’re connected to coal whether you realize it or not… Everybody is connected to this and everybody’s causing it and everybody’s allowing it.” – Maria Gunnoe, West Virgina environmentalist, quoted in The Last Mountain

The Windustry Connection

Windustry is pleased to be among the wind energy experts consulted for the film, which presents Community Wind as an alternative energy solution to mountaintop removal.  Windustry Executive Director, Lisa Daniels, says: “The subject of this film goes far beyond West Virginia. It shines a light on America’s energy needs, how those needs are being supplied, and takes a stand for supporting renewable energy.”

This event is also a fundraiser for Windustry. If you are unable to attend, please consider making a donation that will help Windustry continue to promote progressive renewable energy solutions and empower communities to develop and own wind energy as an environmentally sustainable asset.

Movie Screening Details

When: 7 PM, Tuesday July 12, 2011
Where: Lagoon Cinema, Uptown Minneapolis and Bar Abilene, right next door.
Tickets are $10, available only through Windustry

The new documentary, The Last Mountain looks at the effects of mountaintop coal removal in West Virginia’s Coal River Valley, and the grassroots fight to stop it.  It had its world premiere in the U.S. Documentary Competition category of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Windustry is pleased to be among the wind energy experts consulted for the film, which presents Community Wind as an alternative energy solution to mountaintop removal.  Windustry Executive Director, Lisa Daniels, says: “The subject of this film goes far beyond West Virginia. It shines a light on America’s energy needs, how those needs are being supplied, and takes a stand for supporting renewable energy.”

This screening was made possible with the generous support of the owners of Build Sustainable Homes, The Twin Cities’ Green Building Referral Network and Resource and others.

Enerchange is excited to be able to share this special event from our friends and associates at Windustry.  We hope you will make plans to attend this special screening, share it with others and connect with Windustry.

EnerChange helps Nonprofits Save Money by Saving Energy. To learn how our free service can save you money by saving  on your energy consumption, visit us at and follow us on Twitter and YouTube.

EnerChange is the No-Cost Service Route to Hassle-Free Energy Savings

April 25th, 2011

green buildingThroughout our first several months of operation, EnerChange has been happily serving the Greater Twin City non-profit community with a free service promising to save our clients’ money by helping them save energy. In a recovering economy, our customers have responded very positively as they see money moved from their expense column into bolstering stressed programming budgets.  And to be sure, we have been significantly paying off our promise, saving our growing client roster more than $300,000, so far.

It’s a more interesting story than that though, because in achieving these dollar and energy savings, we really are quietly accomplishing much more, thanks to the decisions of our customers.  Energy conservation presents this country (and planet) with the most powerful engine for meeting the bigger challenges of global wellness. The most talked-about solutions for global warming involve alternative energies, but the straightest line to reduced greenhouse gas emissions is using less energy, period. “The cheapest, cleanest energy is the energy you don’t use,” said Jenny Powers of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). It doesn’t seem as sexy as solar and wind, but efficiency is the cornerstone of reducing our environmental impact,” Powers told Livescience.

High Performance and Green Buildings Provide Many Benefits

This residual benefit theme is corroborated by the Center for Sustainable Energy in California: “Energy efficiency has traditionally been evaluated primarily on the direct basis of economic benefit of the investment.  However, an increasing amount of studies have shown that ‘high performance/green buildings’ can provide all of the following, depending on the measures incorporated and the type of occupancy:

  1. Reduced Operating Costs
  2. Lower Maintenance Costs & Extended Equipment Lives
  3. Increased Productivity & Reduced Employee Absenteeism
  4. Reduced Incidents of Building Related Sicknesses
  5. Higher Test Scores from Students
  6. Increased Product Sales
  7. Reduced Impact on Municipal Infrastructure
  8. Higher Resale and/or Leasing Values & Marketability
  9. Decreased Building Product Waste Streams
  10. Increased Market For Recycled Content Materials
  11. Equivalent (but preferable) to Supply-Side Resources (e.g. Power Plants)
  12. Enhanced Environmental Quality & Decreased Pollution.”

EnerChange Connects You With Programs and Rebates

EnerChange’s mission is simple: Transform information into action in the form of increased energy efficiency. There is no end to the proliferation of research, knowledge and information regarding these critically related issues.  We are determined however, to move beyond words to induce the activity and practices that produce those savings. To do that, we focus on implementation. We create both the diagnosis and the prescription for each facility’s energy wellness and efficiency. We connect the client to the appropriate Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy programs and rebates that effect the transition. We also identify the service providing companies – lighting companies, HVAC specialists, etc. – that make the physical changes required. And although most of these processes pay for themselves, we can even provide financing in the cases where that may be needed. So far – in our first several months of operating – we have successfully extended our services to 54 different non-profit organizations (most of them from the United Way family of agencies), affecting actual improvements in 80 separate facilities, having agreement to proceed with the implementation of 385 different efficiency opportunities.

Be sure to contact us at EnerChange if you’d like to learn how our free service can save you money by saving your energy consumption. Visit our website, contact us at or and follow us on Twitter and YouTube.  We look forward to helping you any way we can.

Twin Cities Gets Organic with Recycling

April 24th, 2011

Energy efficiency can be a very broad topic; it starts with turning off things you don’t need – and definitely things you aren’t using,green recycle energy efficiency means awareness most of all. The dots will begin to connect all by themselves once we all start to think from this perspective.

Energy is NOT free, it may be low cost, but that thinking is a good part of what got us to not think very deeply about energy.Recycling is along the same line of thinking.

My favorite recycling person in the world has a bumper sticker (on her Prius) that says “if you recycle you’re part of the problem” and she is just waiting for people to challenge that slogan – because her ready answer is “reduce first, then reuse, and finally you get to the part about recycling.” I don’t think everyone gets that as they speed past her.

Now recycling is so mainstream that Organics Recycling is now front-and-center for those who keep pushing the rest of us forward. Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis just announced they will provide containers for Organics Recycling along with the containers they provide for metal/corrugated cardboard/glass and paper. For access to these new containers call (612) 673-5411 or visit the website for Hennepin County or the City of Minneapolis.

A You Tube Channel to Help Nonprofits Save Money by Saving Energy

April 20th, 2011

Staying true to our mission of helping nonprofits save money by saving energy, we are excited to announce the launch of our You Tube Channel.

The EnerChange You Tube Channel will be where we share our videos that show examples, case studies and testimonials and from nonprofits that we’ve been able to help find energy and money saving opportunities.  We will also use this channel to find other interesting and informative videos that can help nonprofits find ways to be more energy efficient.

We want the EnerChange You Tube Channel to be a resource for saving money by saving energy.  If you have a favorite video about energy efficiency, we welcome you to connect with us on You Tube, share our videos with others and share your favorite energy saving videos with us.

Be sure to contact us at EnerChange if you’d like to learn how our free service can save you money by saving your energy consumption. Visit our website, contact us at or and follow us on Twitter and YouTube.  We look forward to helping you any way we can.

The Beginning of the Enerchange Story

April 1st, 2011

enerchange logoIt is with great personal pleasure, as Executive Director of EnerChange, to welcome you to the first posting of our EnerChange blog.  We have learned a great deal in this first year of our organization’s history, serving now over 54 clients, helping them to new levels of energy savings and dollar savings and to the other benefits that accompany our work.  Since this is the first post, it seems entirely appropriate to comment on our mission and the complex of issues that contributed to our formation.

The founding of EnerChange grew out of two major impulses – 1) a desire to give stronger voice to the demand side of the energy distribution equation and 2) the belief that our country’s energy discussion focused too much on information and research and too little on action.  Aware that we are facing global challenges from peak oil to climate change to unprecedented population growth to planetary crises such as the recent tragedies (earthquake and tsunami) in Japan – we can easily become bewildered about which way to turn and which challenge to address first.

The Reason We are Determined to Improve Energy Management

EnerChange is based on the premise that while all these issues are real and there is great divergence about meeting the challenges, the indisputably greatest opportunity for progress comes through the simplest solution of all – reduce energy consumption in every way possible. This objective of course, is a step toward the broader goal of planet health and wellness. The reason we are determined to improve energy management acknowledges that we are seriously involved in a major effort to reverse the many negative influences degrading the earth – deforestation, intolerable levels of carbon emissions, interdependence on fossil fuels, addiction to oil, and the list goes on. Paul Hawken, one of the founding forces in the sustainability movement reminds us that “Living within the biological restraints of the earth may be the most civilized activity a person can pursue, because it enables our successors to do the same.”

Tim PawlentyAround the time that we were becoming a viable 501 (c) 3 organization, then Governor Tim Pawlenty directly addressed the same issues we were targeting. “We are well past the cultural tipping point on climate change and our addiction to fossil fuels. It’s no longer a question of whether we change the way we produce and use energy, but how dramatic those changes are and how they’re implemented.” –from February 21, 2007 address to the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce forum on The Future of Minnesota’s Energy.  Governor Pawlenty, addressing the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group (MCCAG) two months later, continued to press the issue – “As Peter Drucker taught us, “The practices that got us here, won’t get us to the future. The best way to think about future is to go out and invent it…I’m proud of Minnesota’s longstanding attention to environmental issues, but here we need to raise the bar as others catch up. We want to be bold, dynamic…Sadly we have been complacent in thinking about energy and environment. But we’re reaching a tipping point, and we have to deal with it now.”

Newt Weed, founder of NICE – National Initiative by Consumers of Energy – and its program EnerChange, knew of the importance of high level commitment to this challenge.  NICE/EnerChange’s founding Board of Directors included many well-known civic and political leaders from a clearly bipartisan spectrum. Wheelock Whitney, Walter Mondale, Arne Carlson, Gordon Sprenger, Dave Durenberger, Charles Denny and Bill Petersen were among the original Board members lending their support and influence to help our organization get started.

EnerChange is Gaining Momentum

Actively underway now – working with nonprofit clients since August of 2010 – we believe we are truly gaining momentum, living up to our original goals, objectives and spirit. We are dedicated to the highest possible levels of performance – saving our clients money by saving energy – and in so doing, reducing the pressure from the larger global issues facing the planet in 2011.

Be sure to contact us at EnerChange if you’d like to learn how our free service can save you money by saving your energy consumption. Visit our website, contact us at or and follow us on Twitter and YouTube.  We look forward to helping you any way we can.