Electric Cars and Such

•January 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Ok, I am a big fan of electric cars and have even begun my own project of building an electric car…a project I started in college that I got 75% complete before it was put on hold for the past 9 years.  I had purchased a 1972 MG Midget for $200 that was sitting in some guys field in rural Sacramento, CA.  I had towed it 300+ miles up to Eureka, CA where I was going to school.  I wanted it to be my Senior Project for my Environmental Resources Engineering degree at Humboldt State University…but the timing just wasn’t quite right.  I did manage to get it running before I completed school, however I never got it completely road-worthy as it was pretty much a complete rebuild of the Classic Britsh Sports Car.  There is a picture of it on the web still at:


I had 15 8-Volt deep cycle batteries stuffed into the little car to make a 120 Volt system.  I have since moved on from the Midget as I had always wanted to get my hands on a Karmann Ghia.  I finally did in 2005 and now am in the process of converting a 1970 Karmann Ghia coupe  to electric instead.  The Midget has since been stripped of the electric components and taken to a local junkyard.  That little car followed me from Sacramento to Eureka and then to San Diego…all in tow unfortuantely.  Now, I am no longer balancing schoolwork and employment to convert a car but 2 kids a wife and employment to convert a car.  Progress is slow, but there is progress.  I will keep the blog updated as it happens.


Encouraging signs?

•January 20, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I read in the newspaper this morning that San Diego County drove millions of miles less this past year ( 2008 ) than the year before (2007).  Apparently people drove 11.8 Billion miles on San Diego County Freeways in 2007 and only 11.4 Billion miles in 2008.  Ok, that’s only 0.4 billion difference, BUT it is 4 MILLION miles less than the year before.  To put that in perspective…

If the average car in San Diego County get’s 25 MPG (a guess on my part) then San Diegans saved 4 million / 25 mpg = 160,000 gallons of gas from the year before.  That amounts to about 3,040,000 lbs of CO2 (1,520 tons) not contributed to our environment.  Wow, way to go San Diego. It is my understanding that, in general, Americans drove less last year.  Way to go America!

However, that bit of good news is probably caused by some bad news.  Yes people drove less, but what are the reasons for doing so?  One reason was the outrageously high gas prices (especially California) and the somber economy.  The newspaper referenced one citizen who said that he just drove less on the weekends. It could also be assumed that all the people who have lost their jobs this last year stopped commuting to work and/or are staying at home.  While the decrease in driving (and ensuing decreased pollution) is an encouraging sign, it may be for the wrong reason.  People didn’t do it out the want to better the environment but out of need, it has simply become too expensive to drive.  Even though bus ridership has increased, so has the figures for unemployment and that is not so encouraging.

It is my hope that with our new administration coming in and their promise to reinvest in America…let’s hope they do it right.  President Obama has promised more funding for Alternative Energy and to try and reduce our dependency on foreign oil.  If he is able to follow through on these promises, he would be considered a great man.

Lunchy Munchy

•December 5, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Ok one of my things is that I bring my lunch to work and eat it at my desk.  It’s not that I’m anti-social or that I don’t like tasting the fine wares of the local restaurants in my area.  I like to get out and eat some other food now and then, but I thought about it one day…what is the actual cost of eating out?  The typical cost of eating out ranges from $8 to $15 depending on how high class you go.  However, people always forget about how much it costs to drive to their favorite lunch site.

Let’s assume that the average lunch site is at or within a 5-mile radius over the week.  Let’s also assume that the car being driven get’s 30 mpg (a bit generous).  So with that thinking:

5 miles / 30 mpg = 0.167 gallons of gas burned, one-way (0.33 gallons for roundtrip)

Now the price of gas has decreased since it hit a high of $4.40/gallon this summer, I last bought gas for $1.69/gallon.  That lunch trip would cost:

$1.69 * 0.33 = $0.55 is the unseen cost…however at the peak of the fuel cost it would have cost an extra $1.45 on my lunch bill that I wasn’t aware of.  Ok, so great, we have an extra cost on our lunch bill, but this a blog about going green right?  Well, let’s put the lunch trip in terms of carbon put into the atmosphere, and I will keep that to just the drive itself. 

We know that 1 gallon of gas burned releases 19.4 lbs of CO2.  That same lunch trip will release 6.4 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere.  Sure that seems like a small amount, but that’s on an individual basis.  The company I work at has approximately 100 people and I will assume that about 75% of them eat out every day.  Now, not everyone drives themselves, they do carpool and this I will assume to be about 50% of the 100 drive a car to eat lunch.  Ok, so that is 50 cars traveling a 10-mile round trip (on average) 5 days a week.  Now what does mean in terms of the environment?

50 cars * 6.4 lbs of CO2/per car = 320 lbs of CO2 per day

320 lbs of CO2 per day * 5 days per week = 1,600 lbs of CO2 per week

1,600 lbs of CO2 per week * 52 weeks per year = 83,200 lbs (41.6 tons) of CO2 per year! and that is just from one office building of 100 people.

I guess you could look at that and say that was about $195,000 of consumer money used to keep the economy rolling…and we haven’t developed a number that relates that amount of CO2 released to a monetary cost… it would be interesting to see how that relation is.  Anyway, I will continue to bring my lunch, save gas and money .($0.55!)

Saving Electricity, Saving Money

•September 2, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Out here in California, electricity is nearing a premium, I remember several years ago when they de-regulated the power industry to provide competition and better service/rates for consumers.  Well, that didn’t work…rates sky-rocketed and there were many brownouts.  It turns out that the industry was no where near being ready for something like that.  Power brokers jumped in with all of their offers and then the scam artists and it was a big mess.  Now they have it all cleaned up, it’s all nice and stable again.  However, electricity is still not cheap, not very expensive, but not cheap either. 

Saving electricity is a tricky thing…if you are looking to know how much you can save.  We all know to turn off the light when we leave a room, but what about all the other stuff we left plugged in?  How can you calculate how much electricity you are saving by unplugging your cell phone charger during the day for instance?  Well here is how you can find out.

Your electric bill measures your electric usage in kwh or KiloWatt Hours.  A watt is a measurement of electricity and a Kilowatt is 100 watts.  A Watt Hour is the measurement of electricity used during a time period, and thus a Kilowatt Hour is 100 watts used over that same time period.  For instance:

A 60 watt light bulb used for 1 hour = 60 Watt Hours ( 0.6 Kwh)

Divide the 60 Watt Hours by 100 (to convert to Kilowatt Hours or Kwh).  60/100 = 0.6 Kwh

Not too bad, pretty easy right?  Ok, so it isn’t that easy every time…but it doesn’t get much more complicated.  Take that cell phone charger for instance…unplug it please, look at the bottom side where that label thing is.  No where on it does it say Kwh.  Instead there is a measurement of it’s “Input” or how much electricity it uses while it’s plugged in (and yes it IS using that amount of electricity even though your phone is not charging).  See what it says as the input…it probably has something like 100-240V~50/60Hz, 0.15A  

What the hell does that mean? 

Ok, first off, forget the 50/60 HZ portion of it, that relates to it’s frequency and is not important for our calculation.  Next, forget the part that says 240V, that’s for area’s outside of the United States.  We need to focus on the 0.15A portion. 

Ok, in the U.S. we have 120V (V = Volts) that comes out of the electric socket.  The charger draws 0.15A (A = Amps).  To measure the electricity it uses, just multiply the Volts times the Amps.  So for our charger…

120V * 0.15A = 18 Watts.  Now let’s assume you leave it plugged in all day, but only charge your phone at night for about 8 hours, leaving 16 hours left that the charger is plugged in without doing anything except sucking electricity.

18 Watts * 16 Hours = 288 Watt Hours or 2.88 Kwh being used per day that IS NOT being used to charge your phone! 

Ok, so let’s put that in terms of money.  I pay $0.14 per kwh in San Diego.  For me, that costs 2.88 Kwh * $0.14 = $0.40 per day in electricity. or $147 per year of wasted electricity!  Oh what would I do with that $147.  So let’s review:

V*A = Watts

Watts * Hours used = Watt Hours

Watt Hours / 100 = Kwh (Kilowatt Hours)

Kwh * your energy rate (see your utility bill) = $$$$

Hypermiling, safely and securely.

•August 22, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I have recently been very interested in the concept of hypermiling.  After seeing the following graphic:


What this graphic shows is that for every 5 mph over 60 mph, you lose approximately 8% in fuel efficiency.  This graphic is displayed on the  www.fueleconomy.gov website, you can click the image to take you there.  If one were to do a google search on the term hypermiling, you could find many sites that will give you procedures for doing basic to very advanced hypermiling techniques.

Now I have seen many arguments for and against hypermiling, there are arguments against that say it is an unsafe driving practice.  It is true that there are some practices that are taken too far and do put drivers in precarious positions, however there are some basic techniques that are perfectly safe and will save you money and gas.  In saving you money and gas, you also help to reduce your impact on the environment.  Here are some of the basic and safe techniques…

  1. Avoid “Rabbit” or quick starts, by lightly pressing the gas pedal to move the car, you can help reduce wasted gasoline from a dead stop.  This also applies to situations where you may have slowed down and are preparing to get up to speed again.
  2. “Coast” to a stop sign or red lights.  What’s the hurry to get to that stop sign or red light?  Remove your foot off the gas pedal and let the car “coast” to a stop.  This helps to reduce the amount of fuel you expend from turning into waste heat through the brakes.
  3. Slow down.  Do you really need to do 75 mph?  Chances are you will get there in approximately the same amount of time by doing 60 mph.  Lets examine this a little more…
    1. For a one way trip of purely highway traveling that is 20 miles in length…it takes 16 minutes to get there at 75 mph…that same distance will take 20 minutes at 60 mph.  A difference of 4 minutes!!!  What does this cost you?
    2. Assuming the price of gas is $3.79 (average in San Diego) the cost of that trip at 75 mph is $2.97…at 60 mph, that same trip costs only $2.30.  This assumes a typical 30 mpg at 60 mph and a resulting 25 mpg at 75 mph due to fuel efficiency decreases.  The savings for this tip is $0.68 per trip.  How many 20 mile trips do you do in a week?  I do 10 of them, thus saving me $6.80 per week, and $350 per year.  Is that 4 minutes worth $350?
  4. Follow large vehicles, but not too closely.  One of my all time favorite shows, Mythbusters, did a piece on where following or “drafting” behind large vehicles can reduce your fuel consumption.  I see many people who follow way to closely on the highway already, but the synopsis of this experiment was that at a distance of 100 feet (approximately 3 seconds behind) fuel consumption was reduced by 11%!  So, please, do this tip safely and with common sense.  You don’t have to tailgate to receive this benefit.
  5. Plan your trips wisely.  Try to avoid multiple trips back and forth, if you can consolidate your trips or even avoid some by walking instead…don’t waste the gas.

By applying the above mentioned tips, you can reduce your fuel consumption, save money, and reduce your impact on the environment.  Are these too difficult?

About us

•August 22, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Ok, so to start off I guess I should kind of fill in the blanks leading up to now.  We live in San Diego, my wife and 2 boys.  We moved back here after spending 2.5 years in Sacramento.

I was born and raised out in one of the many rural areas around Sacramento, CA.  I grew up on a farm, we raised Dairy Goats.  My brother and I grew up on goat milk and a fresh garden that my mom kept up.  The better part of that was being able to go out and pick a fresh vegetable off the garden and eat it, I remember eating red potatoes like they were apples.  Needles to say, I was raised in a pretty “green” environment.  We raised our own animals for meat (did not butcher them ourselves though) and produced our own milk.  The milk that my brother and I would get from the goats served as the milk we would drink and there was enough left over to feed the baby goats with.  After high school I went to Humboldt State University, a notoriously “green” school, and received my B.S. in Environmental Resources Engineering.  After which I moved to San Diego in 1999 and received my Civil Engineers license in 2003.

My wife was born and raised in the Philippines, which is a country that most places require one to live sustainably and live mostly off the land.  She moved to the United States (San Diego) with her family at the age of 14.

So now here we are married with kids and pretty conscientious of the environment and in what condition we leave this planet for our kids and grandkids.

Hello world!

•August 7, 2008 • Leave a Comment

This site will be dedicated to going green in San Diego.  My family and I will implement green practices in our lives and see how they benefit us in all facets of our lives.  I hope to be able to analyze each practice thoroughly and provide numbers and not just words to the results.