Explore Alternative Farming Fuels

January 28th, 2014 3:08 PM

Farmers and others interested in using alternative fuels for transportation and equipment are invited to a program at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Piscataquis County Office, 165 East Main St., Dover-Foxcroft.

The Maine Highlands Farmers and UMaine Extension are sponsoring the free program titled “Alternative Fuels Available to Farms and the Transportation Industry.” Tim Seymour, a sales representative at Darling’s, will talk about advantages and disadvantages of using alternative energy for transportation, as well as sources and supplies of alternative fuels and the future of fuels.

Following the program, the Maine Highlands Farmers will discuss upcoming group activities. For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, contact Extension Educator Donna Coffin, 207.564.3301, 800.287.1491 (in Maine) or donna.coffin@maine.edu.

Grants Connector

June 16th, 2011 8:44 AM

Energy Efficiency, Conservation and Renewable Energy Project Grants, Incentives and Other Funding Projects from the Governor’s Office of Energy Independence and Security

The “Grants Connector” program provides information support for businesses, non-profits, government entities, and other interested parties to pursue federal, state and private energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy project grants and financial incentives. The purpose of this project is to track federal, state and local energy funding programs and incentives, their guidelines and all applicable deadlines.

The Governor’s Office of Energy Independence and Security (OEIS) seeks to provide a dynamic, updated list of state, federal and private funding programs for energy projects like:

  • Increased energy efficiency or enhanced conservation of energy for electric, heating and cooling systems;
  • Increased energy efficiency, enhanced conservation and weatherization in building or facility envelope, appliances, lighting, industrial equipment, systems and other components;
  • Increased use of renewable, indigenous energy sources like biomass, biofuels, on-and off-shore wind, solar, tidal power and geothermal energy.
  • Installation or expansion of combined cooling, heat and power systems and waste-heat recovery systems.
  • Switch to natural gas from oil as a low-carbon, transitional fuel.

Learn more>>

LED Alternatives Offer Efficient Holiday Lighting

November 29th, 2010 3:57 PM

As this year’s holiday celebrants dig out some of the the same old holiday lights they’ve been using for years, Donna Coffin, UMaine Cooperative Extension educator in the Piscataquis County office, advises there are many new LED lighting options available to both reflect the holiday spirit and reduce electric bills in the process.

LED (light-emitting diode) lights can offer just as much twinkle and enjoyment at a fraction of the cost of older decorative lights. Coffin says LED lights can reduce the cost of electricity for holiday decorations by as much as 98 percent.

Consider, she says, that the cost of using a 500-foot string of older C7-type holiday lights for six hours a day for 40 days (240 hours) is $134.  C7 lights are the old large light strings that get hot. People who have switched to mini-lights or twinkle lights, spend about $35 per season. Newer LED holiday lights, on the other hand, cost even less to run: less than $3 for the whole season — or 2 percent of the cost of the old C7 lights.

In addition, LED lights are virtually indestructible, last longer than standard holiday lights, reduce the risk of fire and stay lit if a single light goes out, Coffin says. With no filament or glass bulb in LED lights, they convert electricity directly to light without the heat.

Coffin can be reached at 207-564-3301 or 1-800-287-1491 in Maine, or by email to donna.coffin@maine.edu. For more ideas on home energy conservation, visit the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Energy website at http://extension.umaine.edu/energy/.

How to Save on Home Energy and Heating Costs in the Winter

October 13th, 2010 3:13 PM

For more information, see Maine Home Energy Series, Bulletin #7210

On-Farm Energy Crops

September 24th, 2010 11:21 AM

Spring Projects That Can Help You Cool Your Home Naturally

March 18th, 2010 2:11 PM

foam insulation; photo by Edwin Remsberg, USDAWith the increased prices of heating oil, many homeowners have started weatherizing their homes, with encouragement from federal and state tax incentives and rebates. Weatherizing your home not only reduces heating costs, it reduces cooling costs.

Maine doesn’t get the blistering hot summers of other parts of the U.S., but we can get heat waves that cause a run on air conditioners in local stores. However, there are more cost-effective ways to keep comfortable in hot weather in Maine. There are a number of things we can do before hot weather gets here that will reduce the need for air conditioning and save money.

The sealing and insulating involved in weatherizing your home will not only keep the warm air in during winter; it can also help keep the hot air out in the summer. For instance, attic insulation protects you from the heat of the sun beating down on your roof, while eave and ridge vents give heat a pathway to rise up and out of the attic space.

In Maine in the summer, evening and early morning air temperatures are often dramatically lower than daytime temperatures. Take advantage of this temperature shift. Open windows and doors on opposite sides of the house, or position fans to bring in the cool evening or morning air. Once the coolness is gone, close up the house for the day. Keep the hot air outside. Take advantage of the wind-chill factor by using floor and ceiling fans to circulate a cooling breeze. Remember that most ceiling fans have a summer setting, so be sure to change the switch to summer.

Along with closing the windows and doors, draw the drapes to keep the sun from heating up rooms. Close east-side drapes or curtains first; then later close the south- and west-facing drapes. Once the sun has passed that side of the house you can reopen the drapes. Other options include exterior shutters, window awnings, or plastic films. Permanent plastic films should only be applied to east- or west-facing windows, because they will reduce the solar gain on the south-facing windows too much during the winter when you need the warmth.

Refrigerators and freezers pump heat into our living areas as they chill food, so open the doors of these appliances as little as possible to reduce the amount that the motor must run. If your refrigerator or freezer is more than 15 years old, a new energy-efficient model will pay for itself quickly in energy savings. In addition, there are rebates available for ENERGY STAR-rated appliances.

Other ways to keep your home cool include cooking outdoors whenever possible, and running washers, dryers, and dishwashers at night or early in the morning when it’s cooler. Use lights sparingly, since they, too generate heat. Dress for the weather: loose-fitting light-weight shorts and short-sleeved shirts will be more comfortable.

Planting trees in your landscape now will provide great energy savings in the future, in both summer and winter. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that “shading your home can reduce indoor temperatures by as much as 20°F.” For summer cooling, plant small-to medium-height deciduous shade trees near the east- and west-facing walls of your house. Deciduous trees shed their leaves in the fall, allowing winter sun to warm your home. To shade the roof, plant taller deciduous trees in the southwest and southeast corners of your yard, but keep the true south side of your house tree-free to get all the solar gain possible during the winter. Place large trees no closer to your house than 20 feet.

grassThe DOE also found that a grass-covered lawn is usually 10°F cooler than bare ground in the summer. Growing grass or ground covers will help keep your home cooler than surrounding it with asphalt, concrete, or bare dirt. Ground covers or slow-growing grasses don’t need to be mowed, watered, or fertilized as often as a fast-growing grass, and will save you more energy.

Planting a thick line of evergreen trees 40 to 100 feet from your house to block the cold northwesterly winds, as well as placing evergreen foundation plantings about five feet from the house to create a “dead air” space, will help reduce your winter heating costs. Windbreaks can reduce winter fuel consumption by 10 to 30 percent. Fences and trellises with climbing plants can provide wind and shade while you are waiting for your trees to grow. The DOE estimates that just three properly placed trees can save an average household $100 to $250 in heating and cooling energy costs annually.

If you still need cooling during extremely hot weather, consider one of these two options:

  • An evaporative cooler, which uses less energy than an air conditioner and delivers cool, damp air to your living space
  • An energy-efficient air conditioner that is sized to the space you need to cool. Install window air conditioners snugly and insulate for a tighter fit. Place air conditioners in a shady location if possible. Planting shade-casting plants around the conditioner keeps the surrounding air cooler, so the appliance doesn’t have to work as hard.