Western New York's Largest Supplier of Reclaimed & Surplus Building Material

Wood Sash Windows – Why Rebuild? Why Not Buy Vinyl?

ReUse Action is now repairing and rebuilding wooden sash windows. We offer services from re-glazing, glass replacement to full reconstruction from scratch. Give us a call if you’d like to know more. Why not simply replace with vinyl windows? Most energy research shows that leaky windows are responsible for most of the heat loss in our houses. This is a difficult subject to find objective facts about because the replacement window industry overwhelmingly dominates the discussion. A typical vinyl window advertisement highlights the following: 1. Low-U (or high-R) value of the gas-filled double pane glass 2. Low-E glass 3. Maintenance-free, … Read more

“My version of energy efficiency is to conserve my own energy”

“Nowadays people are talking about net-zero houses . . . My feeling is there’s a lot of overkill in a net-zero house. My version of energy efficiency is to conserve my own energy. It seems to me they are designing for the three coldest days of the year. Designing a house so it will keep you warm without any heat at minus 40 might be overkill. I say, design for 345 days of the year, and the other 20 days just burn some junk mail in the woodstove. I still have my farm out west, and these days I try … Read more

Energy Demand Part One

I was recently having coffee with a friend and we began talking about the role of nuclear energy, specifically whether Indian Point nuclear power facility, which you can see from my parents’ front yard, should be shut down.

My answer is: No. Now before yelling and opinion starts, let’s take a few minutes to investigate this issue a little more logically.

New Appliances
People have long enjoyed labor-saving electrical appliances


Ever-Increasing Demand for Power

We, as a society, demand ever increasing amounts of electricity. Every electronic device draws power, from your refrigerator to your cell phone, to the little green light on light switches that stays on all the time. None of this comes free of charge. Even the industries that draw huge amounts of electricity do so at our demand because ultimately industry supplies things we use from food to online banking to the server hosting this website. I realize it’s generally considered poor grammar to use demand twice in the same paragraph but it’s important to realize electricity and power are produced according to demand, the demand you and I put on the industry. Electricity producers don’t produce power willy-nilly and cause us to become addicted to it. It’s precisely the other way around, we demand more and the industry builds and produces in response.

Wind Power; photo by flickr user strollers
Green Energy - This Thing Is HUGE!

In this series of articles I’ll begin discussing how power is made and distributed. Then I’ll compare “green” options such as wind power and solar power as alternatives to coal, gas and nuclear power and conservation. As will be seen there’s a startling disconnect between what people believe and what can actually be delivered in terms of electricity. We’ll always find electricity to meet demand, the problem arises in that Americans do not tend to want to use less or build (and pay for) more capacity to produce. It reminds of children who demand candy when they’re presented with spinach or broccoli with their dinner. It simply isn’t doable and eventually will land the child in bed early for the night. In our case this obstinance will simply give us higher energy costs. Suppose we live in an overly permissive household where the child gets candy for dinner every night. The child will get fat. In our demand for more power, we’ll experience ever increasing environmental damage and damage to human health.

The Grid

Power Grid
This is part of the New York State power grid

The grid sounds a lot like The Matrix or the name of some other sci-fi movie. However it’s simply the network of power lines connecting power plants and electricity users together. On a map it looks like a big messy net of connections, and in fact it is. The electrical grid is a non-linear network of electrical transmission lines and power plants existing at points all over this grid. This system has grown in an organic fashion since the early 20th century and exploded in size after WWII.

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