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Archive for October, 2010

English Ivy Flowers

October 27th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Today I had a site visit from a member of the Columbia Land Trust to help me make good “sustainable” decisions in regards to the plants to use in my front yard. More to come on that later, but she opened my eyes to a huge immediate problem! The ivy coming from my neighbors yard was flowering! I didn’t even know that ivy flowered!

This is urgent because f you don’t know already, English Ivy has become a major invasive villain in the Pacific Northwest. Given a foothold, English ivy suppresses, excludes and can kill other vegetation around it.

What I learned today is that when Ivy matures, it shifts to forming mature branches that produce berries. The seeds in the berries are distributed mostly by birds such as starlings, European house sparrows, pigeons, robins and cedar waxwings, and for other birds, it has been reported as poisonous. Because English ivy is highly shade-tolerant and adapted to a wide range of soils, it sprouts easily almost everywhere seeds are dropped.

So directly after work today I cut down all the flowers that were pointed out to me before they had a chance to berry. PHEW! Below is my before photo and I’ll post my after photos later since by time I was done, it was dark out. If you haven’t cut down your english ivy yet this season – do so quickly!

English Ivy Blooms

Interesting Numbers about Energy Consumption Trends

October 21st, 2010 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Energy Pulse by The Shelton Group trends a number of energy consumption and conservation issues. This is just an excerpt – but I found some of the numbers very interesting.

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*When it comes to energy efficiency, we really do need a little less talk and a lot more action. Consumers tend to say one thing and do another. As a result, after years of tracking, we’re offering specific metrics around how to appropriately discount survey propensity numbers for energy-efficient products and conservation behaviors to help guide you as you develop energy efficiency programs to deliver success.

*Why aren’t we seeing higher penetration of energy efficiency measures?
Each year home energy audit intention scores approximately 20% or more since the study began in 2005, but the percentage of those who have actually gotten audits remains low, at around 10%. Only CFL bulbs have shown follow-through comparable to stated propensity; last year 47% said they’d purchased CFLs or other energy-efficient bulbs and an additional 29% said they were likely to do so in the future. This year, ownership has increased to 63%.

*Good intentions lead to where? Let’s hope that “h” word is “higher efficiency.” Last year, in the heat of the economic meltdown, the most likely home improvements (if given $10,000) were energy-efficient improvements. This year, the top two answers are:

~Refinish kitchen or bathroom 37% (compared to 26% last year)
~Replace carpet or add hardwood or tile 33% (compared to 25% last year)
Today, many Americans seem to have adjusted to the economic situation and energy-efficient upgrades are once again riding in the backseat. Plus, most are either unable to sell their homes or are spending more time at home. That means consumers are looking to increase their home’s comfort and aesthetic appeal.

*Has this confluence of recession, cocooning and home-improvement-thinking actually created a prime opportunity to persuade consumers to invest in energy efficiency?
Over 60% say they’ve adopted some energy-efficient habits already; and many consumers still have high purchase intent for energy efficiency measures, even for those with low current adoption rates. Plus, the tangible benefit of saving money is still the number one reason consumers will invest in energy efficiency measures.

*Great expectations: How energy efficiency marketing is hurting itself. Consumers said it would take their bills going up by an average of $129 a month to motivate them to invest in energy-efficient renovations. That would be over $4 a day—or $1500 a year—wasted by doing nothing. What happened to saving money? This year’s Energy Pulse survey supported a common complaint we’ve heard in focus groups—after changing their behavior or installing efficiency measures, consumers aren’t seeing the savings they felt they were promised.

*How does this affect marketing strategies nationwide?
What influences consumers more—potential savings or potential waste?
Without some type of reward for behavior change, positive energy-efficient behaviors won’t become long-term habits and conservation goals won’t be met. And rewards are not optional.

*The blame game: How awareness impacts energy usage. Most consumers aren’t aware that they use more energy now than they did five years ago, and many don’t understand the energy drain of most household appliances and electronics.

*Is further consumer education required if reduction goals are to be met?
Are smart meters with two-way communication more critical to the success of energy efficiency programs than many utility companies currently realize?
Utility rates were lower last winter, overall, and while nearly a third (32%) reported their bills had remained stable or gone down, most people reported bill increases of up to 30%. That’s particularly worrisome since, as stated before, more than 60% reported they’ve adopted energy-efficient behaviors with the expectation of saving money.

*For the first time in five years, consumers are primarily blaming increased demand for high energy prices. But they’re not interpreting that in a personal way; instead, they’re applying the larger laws of supply and demand economics. Ironically, some utility companies are operating to the inverse of that economic principle—raising prices when demand decreases.

This little Tid Bit ofers more questions then answers because they are selling a 300 page report through the Shelton Group.