Geothermal Heating System

The U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have acknowledged that a geothermal heating system is the most energy efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective space conditioning system available. Geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) have been in use in the U.S. since the late 1940s.  A geothermal heating system can heat, cool, and supply a house with hot water. They use the constant temperature of the earth as the exchange medium instead of the outside air temperature.  Just below the “frost line”, (which in the US is between 0 and 6 feet), ground temperatures range from 45°F (7°C) to 75°F (21°C).

The equipment costs about the same as conventional gas furnaces and needs to be replaced less often.  The cost to run a geothermal heating system is 40-60% less than a conventional furnace due to its efficiency. Where a fossil fuel furnace may be 78-90 percent efficient, a geothermal heat pump is about 400 percent efficient. For every unit of energy used to power the system, 3-4.5 units are supplied as heat.  Why then isn’t this heating system more popular in the US? Probably because the initial cost is about twice the cost of a conventional system.  Fifty percent of the total cost is the underground loop field.  If this cost could be reduced it would make geothermal a very popular HVAC choice.

There are four basic types of ground loop systems. The first three are closed-loop systems; horizontal, vertical, and pond/lake. Horizontal and vertical closed loop systems are the most expensive types of ground loop systems since they require digging trenches and laying pipes that circulate refrigerant or water thru an area in the ground to exchange heat.  Horizontal systems require more land area than many home owners have.  If a home owner is lucky enough to live by a lake or pond, the cost of the loop is less since pipes can be circulated in the water to exchange heat.

The least expensive option for a ground loop systems is called an “open loop”. If there is an available aquifer that can be tapped into, only a few square feet of real estate are needed. The water is returned to the aquifer after passing over a heat exchanger, so it is not “used” or otherwise negatively impacted. Our company is investigating how to make an open loop system more accessible to home owners.  MEC systems LLC is exploring the use of its current Woda-Sci Green Tech Sump Controller to use the ground water under many homes as an open loop.  The water in a home’s foundation drainage system would be accessed thru the sump and a secondary shallow well pump to use as an open loop heat sink for geothermal HVAC applications.  While this application would only be applicable in high water table areas, it would reduce the cost of geothermal heating for many customers and make it a more viable choice when building a home or replacing an existing heating system.

Geo-Thermal Heating and Cooling Mode Diagram

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Rain barrel saving water

Alternative Water Supply

Individuals, businesses and all levels of government are interested in alternative water supply as droughts and increased demand is straining our existing capacity. The US relies mainly on surface and ground water sources.  There are also less well known alternative sources of water supply, some of which date back to ancient times that are experiencing a resurgence.

Long ago, many civilizations used desalination or distillation on their ships to convert sea water into drinking water. Today, desalination plants are probably the most well recognized alternative water supply systems.  This process mimics the natural water (hydrologic) cycle. Energy is used to evaporate the water, the water vapor is cooled and then it re-condenses and is collected.  Countries in the Middle East and Africa use this technique and there are also desalination plants in California.  The process accounts for 1% of all the total freshwater world consumption.

Another early alternative water supply was rain water. In many of the ancient cities in the Indus Valley in India, we can still find huge vats that were cut into the rock to collect water when there was torrential rainfall. These were fed by numerous stone gullies that weaved their way through a city. Some of these rock vats are still used today.  Modern examples of rain harvesting connect downspouts (gutters) to a water storage tank.  Some systems used in Africa and Australia are capable of holding about 25,000 gallons of water or more.  In Australia many homes in remote locations use it as a primary source of water. Currently there are an estimated 30,000 to 60,000 people in the state of Hawaii who are dependent on a rainwater catchment system for their water needs.  Water utilities around many parts of the US encourage the use of rain barrels attached to home downspouts to capture rain water for residential property irrigation purposes.

Alternative Water Supply Systems

Closely related to rain water harvesting is stormwater harvesting. It differs from rainwater harvesting as the runoff is collected from drains or creeks, rather than roofs.  It can also include other catchment areas from manmade surfaces, such as roads, or other urban environments such as parks, gardens and playing fields.  As the water travels over impervious surfaces it collects pollutants. The main challenge stormwater harvesting poses is the removal of pollutants in order to make this water available for reuse.  It is most often used for irrigation purposes and not as a drinking water source. In California researchers have a plan to recharge groundwater aquifers with runoff captured from rainstorms.

Today the new techniques that re-use water that was previously wasted are also often considered to be alternative water supply methods.  Gray water systems in modern buildings that capture shower water to be re-used in toilets are an example. Another example is the Woda-Sci green tech sump control system which enables home owners to use water that normally would be pumped out to the storm drains for irrigation and/or drinking water.

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Sump Pump Maintenance Diagram

Sump Pump Maintenance

Five Easy Steps for Sump Pump Maintenance

You can find your sump pump in your basement.  It will be in a hole in your basement floor and is usually about 1.5 to 2 feet deep and about 20 inches in diameter and should be flush with the basement floor.  The hole often looks like a small garbage can and can have a cover over it.  You should see a pipe, (usually white PVC), running up from it and out of the house. It is powered by electricity and should be plugged in to an outlet about 4 feet off the floor located near the sump pit.

New Sump PumpSump pumps are often considered dirty and people tend to avoid them.  Some plumbing contractors suggest pouring a little pool chlorine in the sump pit before maintenance,(make sure there is adequate water in there before doing so).  I personally don’t agree with using chlorine since the sump pit pumps water out to our drainage ditch which runs out to our lake. Most of that dirt is just sediment collected from years of ground water flowing thru the system.  Just taking a scrub brush to the sides can do wonders to make it more appealing.  Also it is a good idea to keep a lid on it to keep things from falling inside.

You should perform sump pump maintenance at least once a year, or before a heavy forecasted rainfall.  The easiest and quickest way to check it is just to make sure you hear or see it turn on and pump water out of the pit.  If it isn’t running frequently you can pour a five gallon bucket of water into the pit and force it to turn on.  A more thorough maintenance regime would include the following steps:

  1. Uncover the pit periodically and make sure nothing has fallen inside the pit.  Take any items found out and pray they are not mice.
  2. Ensure the pump is upright- if the device is tilted to one side, the float arm can become jammed and cease to operate correctly.
  3. If you have a submersible pump, remove it from the pit and clean the bottom or side grate. Pumps can suck in rocks that may block the inlet(s) or become clogged from calcification of mineral content over time.
  4. Check your outlet pipe for any blockages that could prevent water from flowing through your outlet tube, by loosening the ring clamp on the rubber backflow valve, nearest the pump and pulling the PVC  outlet pipe out of the rubber sleeve.  Make sure you have the ring clamp tightened securely again, upon replacing the PVC pipe prior to plugging in your sump pump.
  5. Make sure your sump pump is plugged into a working outlet. Sometimes people use the outlet for other purposes and forget to plug the sump pump back in.

Your sump pump may get overwhelmed due to a lack of maintenance on things you may think are totally unrelated to a sump pump.  Often clogged rain gutters or gutters that drain close to the house can cause large quantities of water to flow down around your house during storms.  Make sure the gutters take water away from your house.  The land around your house should be graded to slope away from your home to allow the water to flow away from the sides of your basement.  Most homes are built with this grading but over time the ground can settle and need to be redone.

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Fresh, organic foods in the supermarket

Organic Foods vs. GMOs – Learn the Differences

Organic foods and GMOs are misunderstood by most.

Although an extensive variety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been introduced to the world by the agricultural industry over the past 20+ years, the vast majority of the public remains uninformed about what these really are and how they differ to organic foods. By 1994, these organisms had reached the consumer market in the form of GMO tomatoes.

Definition of Organic

The term organic refers to the way in which foods are grown and processed. In order for products to be labeled as such, specific requirements must be met. Organic crops must be grown in safe, chemical-free soil, have no modifications and remain completely separate from conventionally grown produce. Absolutely no chemical-based pesticides, bioengineered genes or products (GMOs), sewage sludge-based fertilizers or petroleum-based fertilizer products can be used at all. Additionally, organic livestock have to consume organic-only feed and be given access to the outdoors. They may not consume growth hormones, antibiotics or any form of animal by-products whatsoever.

Definition of GMOs

As their name implies, genetically modified organisms are food products whose DNA has been modified or altered in some way. In most cases, these products have only undergone basic testing – or even no testing at all – to determine what long term effects will be experienced by consuming them. Chemical-based insecticides, pesticides and herbicides are used to control pest invasions on these products, which leach into the soil and food that is grown in it. While these foods may look ‘perfect’ on the outside, they may not offer nearly as much nutritional value as their organic counterparts.

 

GMOS

 

Benefits of Organic Food

Organic foods are often fresher and tastier than conventionally-grown food. Organic farming is far better for the environment because of the fact that no pesticides are used. In addition, these foods have been shown to be more nutrient-dense than conventionally grown foods – in some cases, as much as 50% higher, especially in meat and milk products. This means that overall, organic foods are far healthier than those which have been conventionally grown or raised.

Points to Consider with GMO Foods

Some studies have indicated that the consumption of GMO foods could be linked to an increased cancer risk when it comes to leukemia, tumors, prostate and breast cancers. Pesticides and other chemical-based products used to grow and raise these foods can build up or accumulate in the body as well, which can lead to the development of health issues such as unexplained headaches, birth defects and severely compromised immune systems. Other health issues that can arise as a result of consuming GMOs include potential organ failure, infertility and an array of reproductive issues because they are not able to break down and/or be eliminated by the body.

Wherever possible, it is recommended that you consume as many organic foods as possible. This will help ensure that you and your family remain as healthy as possible and that your bodies are not being exposed to unnecessary chemicals and pesticides.

Sources Used:
http://www.naturalnews.com/053604_organic_movement_GMOs_sustainable_agriculture.html
http://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/organic-foods.htm
http://yumuniverse.com/gmo-conventional-or-organic-going-beyond-plu-codes/

 

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Tap water fed by sump pump controller

Reverse Osmosis- The Good & The Bad

 

Reverse Osmosis – Explore the Advantages & Disadvantages

The practice of water filtration by means of reverse osmosis (ro) has been around since the 1950’s, and it is still used in millions of homes today. While there are numerous advantages of using reverse osmosis to purify drinking water, this system does have a few potential drawbacks as well.

How it Works

Reverse osmosis systems make use of a semi-permeable membrane containing tiny pores, which only allow water to flow through them. As a result, salt, dirt and other natural mineral particles are all removed from the water, leaving it clean and pure. In addition, this is one of few water filtration systems that is able to remove disease-causing pathogens and bacteria safely and effectively.

Advantages of Reverse Osmosis

  1. Great Tasting Water

When people are asked why they don’t drink water, most state that the water in their neighborhoods tastes or smells strange. Using a reverse osmosis purification system will remove between 95% and 99% of chlorine, pesticide residue, impurities, pathogens, parasites and total dissolved solids from a water supply, leaving families with great tasting water. Having palatable water on hand will make it easier to drink more of it each day. This is far healthier than turning to sodas or other sugary drinks.

  1. Low Cost

Although these systems may be expensive to purchase initially, they more than pay for themselves because families are able to obtain gallons of purified water for just pennies per day. This reduces the need for purchasing bottled water and provides fresh, pure water that is literally available ‘on tap.’

  1. Handy in Times of Crisis

Reverse osmosis systems were initially developed as a means of desalinating seawater, which makes them ideal to use for providing drinking water during times of crisis such as heavy floods or at any other time when regular water supply is unpalatable.  Installing a ro system in your home will ensure you have clean, tasty water available at all times.

  1. Removes Harmful Inorganic Minerals

Inorganic minerals such as calcium don’t offer any health benefits. In fact, these inorganic minerals cause calcification in our arteries, kidney stones, gallbladder stones, bone & joint calcification as well as arthritis.

“What the human body cannot utilize or excrete, it must store. Consequently, the inorganic salts (inorganic minerals) are stored and in time take their toll in the form of hardening of the arteries, stones within the kidneys, urethras, gall bladder, joints and an etiologic factor in enlargement of the adipose cell (fat cell). To be one hundred percent healthy, the human body must be free of inorganic minerals.” -Paul C. Bragg, N.D., Ph.D. World Renowned Nutritionist, Pioneer in America’s Wellness Movement

reverseosmosis

 

Disadvantages of Reverse Osmosis

  1. A slow process

Reverse osmosis relies on household water pressure to push faucet or tap water through a semi-permeable membrane, which means that the purification process can take a fair while. If a large amount of drinking water is needed at once and the system’s holding tank is drained, it can take an hour or two to refill. As a result, it is recommended that a few bottles of already purified water be kept on hand at all times.

  1. System Clogs

Owing to the fact that the pores where the water passes through to be purified are so small, they can become clogged easily. As a result, regular system maintenance is required to prevent this from happening. Many homeowners invest in a pre-filter unit or whole-house conditioning system to prevent the RO unit from clogging. It is also essential to ensure that the entire RO system be cleaned and sterilized once a year.

  1. Critical Contaminants Still Remain

While reverse osmosis is definitely effective in removing a majority of contaminants in our drinking water, the reverse osmosis membrane itself doesn’t remove volatile organic chemical (VOCs), pharmaceutical drugs, chlorine and chloramines as well as other synthetic chemicals found in our city water.

In order to combat this, many systems have added an Activated Carbon which aids in removing these additional contaminants.

  1. Demineralization May Cause Health Risks

“According to The World Health Organization (WHO), the possible adverse consequences of low mineral content water consumption are discussed in the following categories:

  • Direct effects on the intestinal mucous membrane, metabolism and mineral homeostasis or other body functions.
  • Little or no intake of calcium and magnesium from low-mineral water.
  • Low intake of other essential elements and microelements.
  • Loss of calcium, magnesium and other essential elements in prepared food.
  • Possible increased dietary intake of toxic metals.”

In the end, you will have to weigh out the pros and cons mentioned and figure out which resources ring true. We hope that we’ve provided enough resources to help you make an informed decision on whether reverse osmosis is for you.

Sources:

http://blog.watertech.com/reverse-osmosis-advantages-and-disadvantages/

http://crystalclear-systems.com/the-truth-about-reverse-osmosis-is-safe-drink-water/

http://www.uwhealth.org/news/dr-jacqueline-gerhart-theres-good-and-bad-to-using-reverse-osmosis-water-systems/36710

http://www.waterbenefitshealth.com/reverse-osmosis-water.html

http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/nutrientschap12.pdf

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