Monthly Archives: April 2009

IDT Energy, New York, Curitaba and the Green Connection

New York does not need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating a greener environment. In Curitaba, Brazil an ongoing experiment in urban planning to maximize green space and minimize waste of resources has been going on. In the early 1970s, when Brazil was welcoming any industry, no matter how toxic its by products, Curitiba admitted only non polluters; it constructed an industrial district that reserved so much land for green space that it was called a “golf course” by its detractors until it succeeded in filling up with major businesses while cities in other Latin American countries were in the doldrums. Through the creation of two dozen recreational parks, many with lakes to catch runoff in low-lying areas that flood at times, Curitiba managed to increase its green areas from 5 square feet per inhabitant to an amazing 560 square feet. The city promoted “green” policies before they were fashionable and called itself “the ecological capital of Brazil” in the 1980s, when there were no rivals for such an honor. Today, Curitiba remains a pilgrimage destination for urbanologists who are fascinated by its bus system, garbage-recycling program and network of parks. It is the answer to the question: How would cities look if urban planners, not politicians, took control?

New York City, in partnership with IDT Energy should lead the way in utilizing safe, clean energy generation, responsible use of resources, intelligent use of green energy and cost savings for its citizens. This will insure that New York continues to influence worldwide trends throughout the 21st century and beyond.

IDT Energy and New York:Bringing Green to the City

New York City, the vibrant hub of international commerce, art and fashion during the 20th century must set its goals on maintaining its status into the 21st century and beyond. IDT Energy recognizes that as the demands of an increasing population and decreasing space continues, the city will need to explore new ways to save energy resources such as electricity and gas and find other methods of energy generation, such as green energy production. To maintain the high level of satisfaction with living in New York it will also be necessary to maintain, if not increase the green space it’s citizens now enjoy.

Want alternative energy? Try pond scum

Algae, otherwise known as pond scum, is being championed as a new source of alternative energy. In addition to growing very quickly, algae uses as its fertilizer “the very greenhouse gases of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone that electrical power generators are under increasing pressure to reduce.” In addition, “animal wastes that are increasingly becoming a problem for industrial-scale livestock operations also act as food for the algae.” A handful of start-up companies and countless academic programs are exploring ways to divert gases linked to global warming or animal wastes into systems for growing algae, which can then be processed into ethanol and biodiesel fuels.There are some concerns in the business sector about the financial viability of this venture, but scientists are working hard to prove that using algae as a source of fuel makes economic sense.
Which alternative energy source do you think will emerge as the most successful in 2009? Place your bets now and you will be publicly recognized as being an industry guru (assuming that you are correct, of course).

Winter Heating Costs?

Don’t let winter heating costs FREEEEEEZE YOU!

I don’t know about you but winter is close by and I am already feeling the cold. It’s frightening.

Here are some tips to stay warm and financially afloat for the winter:

Stay warm this winter without the sky-high bills. Lou Manfredini, aka Mr. Fix-It, offers tips for saving energy — and money

Today show

At one stage propane and natural gas bills are going to be sky high. So no matter how you heat your home, you’re going to want to find ways to keep costs down this winter. Home contributor Lou Manfredini, aka Mr. Fix-It, was invited on “Today” to offer tips to get you through those cold winter nights.Service your heating system every year
It’s the best money you’ll spend. The cost for a typical service call to clean the unit and change filters in both the furnace and humidifier, on average, is between $85 to $100, depending on where you live.

Install a programmable thermostat
This is a must. There are many different brands on the market that range in price from $50 to $125. You can program it to lower the temperature while you’re at work or sleeping and save up to 30 percent in a well insulated home. What’s more, outdated thermostats are the weakest link in conserving energy. According to the government’s Energy Information Administration, only about 11 percent of U.S. homes are equipped with modern programmable thermostats. Honeywell®, a leader in control technology, estimates that homeowners can receive one to three months of free heating and cooling by installing a programmable thermostat. What are you waiting for? {Editor’s Note: Check out this! — awesome thermos}

Add weather stripping around windows and doors
This is a project that any homeowner can do. This also has a real impact on drafts and conserving energy. Door thresholds, window caulking and plastic window film can go a long way in saving your money this winter. If you live in a drafty home, you could save up to 20 percent on heating costs with an investment of as little as $25. There is even a removable window caulking called Wind-Jammer that can be pulled away clean in the spring. If you’re replacing your front door, consider a fiberglass unit. These not only look great but have a higher insulating performance than traditional wood or steel doors. For more information check out

Install ceiling fans
Remember learning in physics class that heat rises? Well, running ceiling fans slowly and in reverse will keep that warm air circulating and keep you more comfortable. What’s the bonus? The time your furnace runs will reduce, which will cut your monthly energy bill.

Rearrange the furniture
Really. A couch or chair over a vent or in front of baseboard radiators decreases the efficiency of the units and causes your heating system to run longer.

Install a tankless water heater
This technology has been around for almost 70 years. Now units are less expensive and can save you hundreds of dollars each year. How? They create hot water on demand, so there’s no stored water needing to be continuously heated. (Think about when you’re away or asleep.) What’s the cost? A small unit that will produce about 3.3 gallons of hot water continuously is around $500 to $700, while a standard 50-gallon tank heater costs around $300. But you’ll recoup the cost increase in just three years, and then the savings keep coming. What’s more, standard water heaters tend to decrease in efficiency as time goes on. A seven-year-old tank heater runs at about 60 percent efficiency, while a tankless heater of the same age runs at about 70 percent to 75 percent efficiency. The limitations? Multiple fixtures can’t run at the same time, making it difficult to run your washing machine and take a shower simultaneously. But the savings are really worth it — trust me. For more information check out

Use compact florescent lightbulbs, or CFLs
These bulbs give off the same amount of light but use a third of the energy and many will last up to 5 years. Electric companies across the country say that replacing the five most used lightbulbs in your home with CFLs can save you up to $60 a year on your electric bill.

Install thermo-pane windows in your home
You’ll increase your home’s energy efficiency up to 70 percent. Multi-pane windows can have R-values of as high as 9.1. (The higher the R-value, the more resistant the glass is to losing heat.) A typical single-pane glass has an R-value of 1.

Insulate your ceilings and attic
Heat rises, and if there isn’t enough insulation in the space above, your money is going out the roof — literally. Most ceilings and attic spaces should have at least an R-30 rating, although a rating of R-40 to R-50 is recommended for some areas of the country.

Let the sun be your guide
Why not? It’s free energy. During the day, open up those drapes and blinds and let that sun heat your home. At night, draw the curtains to keep the heat inside.

Bonus tip
A small label can save you big money. Look for the “energy star” label on your appliances, easily found on washing machines, computers and stereo equipment. This label means the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency have deemed these products to be energy efficient.