The problem with so many energy saving ideas, from compact fluorescent bulbs to water saving showers, is that they often deliver a miserable experience. Because there really is nothing like an old-fashioned shower that pumps out the gallons. That’s what’s so interesting about the new Hamwells e-shower, which filters, heats and recirculates shower water up to seven times: not only do you save 80 percent of the energy and 90 percent of the water compared to a normal shower, but it can pump out 15 litres per minute, or five times as much as a low flow shower head. That’s going to feel like a real old-fashioned shower.But because it is recirculating, one uses a fraction of the water and the energy. Interestingly, there is an accessory telephone shower that does not recirculate, so if you are nervous about its ability to filter out your shampoo, you can apply and rinse conventionally, and then luxuriate in the long hot recirculating shower. That is, I think, the key to the success of this- it’s not just about sustainability but also about comfort and luxury; now you can stay in the shower for as long as you want and not feel guilty using up all that water and energy.
It’s getting harder to figure out whether converting your home to solar energy makes financial sense as utilities adopt new ways to pay customers who pump electricity into the electric grid.Most utilities buy homeowners’ excess solar power for the same price they sell power from the grid. This idea, called net metering, is easy to understand: Buyer and seller get the same price.But some utilities around the country complain that net metering doesn’t cover their costs of accommodating solar. With support from regulators, they’ve started paying for home solar at lower prices than grid power.Consumers need to pay attention to these changes. Most home solar systems export 40% to 60% of their electricity production back to the power grid, says Mark Dyson, a manager at the Rocky Mountain Institute, which studies alternate energy. Lower payments for that power have a big impact on whether home solar is cost effective.