Here are some of the cool new technologies I have come across that are available to save money and energy while helping reduce our impact on the planet. I like to keep informed of what is available and I hope you find this of interest as well.

Daylighting, Using the sun for indoor light

The LightCatcher is a polycarbonate light dome with an integrated mirror tracking system that searches for the brightest source of available light and directs it into a building. The system is more efficient than standard skylights, so a smaller opening can be used – a 185.35 square ft opening in a roof brings in 646-1,202 square ft of natural light without using a lick of energy. Skylights also expose buildings to wide temperature fluctuations during the winter and summer months, while the LightCatcher does not.

So, how does it work? The mirror integrated within the dome captures incoming daylight that is then reflected, filtered and amplified in a light shaft before it spreads through a building. Images demonstrate how this solar-powered system brightens a room more effectively without mechanical assistance than a standard light bulb. In fact, the LightCatcher is so efficient that it is possible to enjoy day lighting (using natural light to illuminate indoor spaces) for an average of 10 hours a day, which reduces energy usage by up to 70 percent.

Electric Bikes

What started out as a bit of a fad has morphed into a huge movement as more and more people realize the benefits of E-bikes. Now there are many different styles to choose from and the technology has improved dramatically. The Pedego line of e-bikes has the Trail Tracker, capable of handling off road trail riding as well as urban commutes. The oversized tires make it especially useful in maintaining stability during lousy weather, like we get here in Ontario for many long months! As the company suggests the Trail Tracker is a heavy-duty off-road bike that can carry riders up mountain paths known to stop most riders on regular bikes. For the brave biker who seeks high adventure on mountain trails, this solid bike lives up to its adventurous name. With a rugged 48-volt, 600-watt silent motor, the Trail Tracker is made to leave others in the dust while conquering new paths, both on and off the road. Its 4-inch wide tires have aggressive knobby tread to hug the turf and carry the rider over rough terrain with confidence or through snowy streets and pathways!

Plugless Electric Vehicle Chargers

I drive a Prius and get excellent fuel mileage (average 4.9L/100 km’s) but I still have to stop and refuel once in a while. If you’re like me, it’s almost worth the extra few cents per litre to try and find some friendly full serve gas station willing to fill your tank during a blizzard. I really hate pumping gas, and will be looking at an Electric Vehicle (EV) for my next purchase. Besides the economic and environmental benefits of an EV, what could be better than simply plugging in your car to refuel? Well, how about just parking over the new Plugless EV chargers coming soon to a garage near you. So how does this system work? The technology is called inductive power transfer. Inductive power transfer uses magnetic fields to transfer energy from a transmitting coil in the Parking Pad to a receiving coil in the Vehicle Adapter, which converts this energy into electrical current to charge your EV. Once the system is installed and paired to your vehicle, you simply pull into your garage or parking space and the system automatically begins recharging your EV.

Smokeless super efficient portable stove that generates electricity

I love this stove. The technology originally was inspired by observing the living quarters of third world families, practically suffocating from the smoke of their cooking fires. Invented by Alexander Drummond and Jonathan Cedar, the BioLite stove technology was inspired by a philosophy of applying efficient design to real world problems.

Alec and Jonathan met in New York City, where they quickly bonded over their interest in sustainable design in 2006. Frustrated that all efficient camping stoves required petroleum fuel or batteries, they had the idea of a wood-burning stove able to utilize its own thermal energy. Countless nights, weekends, and prototypes later, the BioLite Camp Stove was born. By using an integrated thermoelectric generator (TEG) and a fan to boost combustion, the amount of smoke produced was reduced significantly while requiring less fuel for the same amount of heat. The added benefit is that the TEG produces surplus electricity that can be used to charge cell phones, LED lights or other battery powered appliances. Talk about a win, win design for developing countries and backpackers. Check out this inspiring video on TED Talks:

Low Tech, High Efficiency Solar Air Heating

Solar air heating systems have been around for a long time and with rising energy costs these systems are seeing renewed interest from building owners. Most systems utilize a buildings façade to house the solar collectors and now there is another option available. Following the commercial success of its façade mounted transpired solar collector, Matrix Energy of Montreal, introduced the Delta, a modular roof mounted solar air heating system. The Delta solar heating system is the ideal solution where a conventional wall mounted solar air heating system is not practical due to poor orientation, insufficient wall area, local bylaws, or other obstacles. The integrated solar collector and air duct make installations easy in a number of configurations. The system is basically maintenance free as it ties directly into your existing HVAC system and is 89% efficient, greatly reducing the heating requirements of your facility.

These are just some of the new ideas out there and I will be investigating and reviewing more of the promising new technologies in the coming months. If you would like to be kept up to date on what we turn up, please sign up for our newsletter. Have a great day!