Four Days of Renewable Energy in Portugal

Four Days of Renewable Energy in Portugal

Large array of solar panels with a hilll behind it

Earlier this year Portugal reached a major energy efficiency milestone. As reported on by The Gaurdian, the country was entirely powered by renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and hydro power for four days in a row or about 107 hours. And in 2015, 48% of Portugal’s energy came from renewable sources.

Looks like we’ve got some efficiency strides to make if we want to keep up with the Iberian Peninsula!


Investing in Alternative Energy

Investing in Alternative Energy

Renewable energy investments directly benefit you and all of us! Check out these opportunities to start making a change:

Seattle City Light Logo
Join City Light’s Green Up! Program
City Light customers can support renewable energy in the Pacific Northwest from geothermal, dairy biogas and wind by adding $3, $6, or $12 to their bill each month. Call (206) 684-3800 or visit

Northwest eco building guild logoEducation Session: Solar Energy for Those without Solar Access Join the NW EcoBuilding Guild at the Phinney Neighborhood Center on Wednesday May 25 from 7-9pm for a discussion of solar energy and how we can make it accessible for renters. More info.


Tiny House Heating Solutions

Tiny House Heating Solutions

Tiny houses are a great way to live with a smaller carbon footprint. In Seattle, they have also become a practical response to our city’s housing crisis. The Low Income Housing Institute has constructed Tiny House Villages all over the city.

Our experience is that people looking to live in a small footprint are inherently also interested in low resource/energy consumption and high space efficiency.

Laura recently discussed “small footprint” heating at the Phinney Home Design & Remodel Fair and at an LIHI event. In comparison to other heat sources typically considered for small spaces (radiant floor, radiant/convection wall heat, ductless heat pumps), radiant ceiling panels were clearly the superior solution on several accounts, including:


  • no special materials or substrate required for installation
  • conserves prime wall space for other needs
  • heats more comfortably, faster
  • low amps needed (between 0.8 – 1.6 for 240v depending on size of unit)
  • no noise or moving parts to break
  • efficient and healthy from production through use
  • 20 year warranty
Read more about the benefits of Radiant Ceiling Panels. Laura is also happy to have further conversations about the pros and cons of infrared radiant heat compared to other heating options!
Pipe Dreams Become Portland’s Energy Reality

Pipe Dreams Become Portland’s Energy Reality

lucidenergy-638x249Lucid Energy, a Portland based start-up has set out to tap the energy in Portland’s drinking water. They have created a system built in to city water pipes that functions as hydropower plants do but without the environmental pitfalls like disrupting wildlife and emitting greenhouse gases. Their system relies on the already flowing water in pipelines to move turbines within the pipe which are connected to generators. Currently portland has this system installed in 50 feet of pipe which is generating 1,100 megawatt hours of electricity a year, enough to power 150 homes!

This project cost $1.7 million dollars and was paid for by private investors, it is expected to generate $2 million dollars worth of electricity over the next 20 years. Portland has agreed to buy back the electricity for at least the next 20 years. This technology is a huge deal because many cities have aging infrastructure requiring them to make improvements in the upcoming years and this option would allow them to have a dual purpose replacing their pipes!

Read More.

Zone Controlled Heating

Zone Controlled Heating

Having zone controlled heat is one of the most energy efficient and affective ways to save money on your heating bill without sacrificing comfort in your home.

Many forced air systems claim to have zone control capabilities but in reality the furnace has to work even harder to heat other rooms when the registers or vents are closed in some rooms. When the registers are closed the air still travels down the ducts until it hits the closed register and then bounces back (cooling in the process) as it joins the air in the main duct. This cooler air is then blown into rooms further down the line. This forces the furnace to work extra hard to heat the spaces receiving the cooler air.

With radiant heat panels you can choose to evenly heat your whole house room by room or choose to purposely set some rooms at a cooler/warmer temperatures than others. Unlike a furnace which kicks on when a room drops below the set temperature of your thermostat, heat panels only turn on in the specific room they are needed. You can even set the panels to different temperatures within the same room. For example, if you have a room with a sitting area and an exercise area you can have the panels over the couches set to 68 and the panels over your exercise equipment set to 63 so that if both areas of the room are being occupied then all can be comfortable in it. Likewise, if you have a room with a lot of solar gain  on one side and cooler on the other, you can have the panels on two thermostats so that the entire space is comfortable.


go from this…


to this! With Radiant Heat!