Cats and Air Conditioning
Cats and Air Conditioning
Cats and Air Conditioning
Economy Issues Affect Change in Consumer Shopping Habits
By Betty Stephens
American household buying habits accounts for around 70% of the U.S. economy. What consumers shop for is seperated into two main categories. First, they spending on such items as food, clothing and shelter. Second, there is more discretionary spending. This is on items such as entertainment or non-essentials.
The good fortune of some and mis-fortune of others have caused financial ups and downs and a shift in the shopping habits of Americans have led to uneven outcomes for retailers. Companies like WalMart and Mattel have continued to struggle as people spend more cautiously in this type of uncertain economy. Amazon has however done well, as more consumers choose to shop on line.
Americans are very price conconscious, and will check as many as seven store or web sites for the best price before makes their purchases. I believe frugal is the the best word to describe the average American these days. Internet shopping rose 10% to $46.5 billion in November and December, according to research firm Comscore. However, sales at retail stores rose just 2.7% to $265.9 billion, according to ShopperTrak, which tracks data at 40,000 stores in the U.S. And the number of customers in stores dropped 14.6%.
Industry exucutives are starting to say this new American frugallity may be beccoming a new reality and a new permanet way of life in America and they don’t expect to see it go away anytime soon, if ever, even as the economy shows signs of improvement. With family budgets under pressure since the recession of 2008, consumers have headed to discount stores, switched from name brand goods to private-label alternatives and shopped more often at discount stores or online rather than spending on expensive fuel to drive to out-of-town hypermarkets.
Those trends have benefited discounters as well as retailers that have the widest own-label ranges and networks of smaller stores, prompting consumer goods firms to retaliate with brand promotions and smaller packaging.
“If you look at data from Millennials, who have really sort of grown up with this, price is more important to them than it was to the last generation,” WalMart U.S. Chief Executive Bill Simon told the Reuters Global Consumer and Retail Summit, referring to the generation born between 1980 and 2000.
WalMart U.S. is the largest unit of WalMart Stores Inc (WMT.N), the world’s largest retailer which benefited from trading-down during the recession, but cut its forecasts last month, citing weak results in many key markets.
The U.S. economy is expected to pick up towards the end of the year, helping cut unemployment, while Europe’s lack luster recovery looks set to continue, although wage growth will continue to lag inflation, hurting consumer purchasing power.
The Dollar Channel
Dollar store has been on an upward trend for several years now. They have had a big impact on the discount store market and are competing head to head with other discount stores on the routine shopping trip stop. The Family Dollar Stores are adding cooler space to more than 1,000 locations this year, and Dollar Tree is adding to its food and beverage assortment as well as opening a third-party pharmacy in a Florida location. Efforts like these have contributed to dollar retailers winning over shoppers from other discount stors. The most sizeable change is the shift of heavy drug store shoppers—the top one-third of spenders within the catagory -into the dollar store family of stores. This is not a big surprise, as the both dollar stores and drug stores carry many of the same type of goods and both are well positioned, geographically, for easy-access, fill-in trips.
During the last year, Americans have been making less but larger shopping trips. Trips declined across grocery and large box stores. You might think the decline in stock-up trips would hurt Sam’s Club and Costco type stores, however trips have actually increased by 2.1% during the past year due to a number of factors. The club retailers are expanding the number of stores. Also, club trips are being bolstered by lower gas prices and low food inflation, which makes it easier for them to absorb bulk pricing. The dollar stores also saw trips increase significantly during the past year, which reinforces the notion that consumers are viewing dollar stores as a “smarter” choice for affordable solutions.
While people will continue to shop, the question now is what will they purchase, when will they purchase and where will they purchase. Name brand items are taking a backseat to generic or store brand products. Malls are beginning to show signs of weakness – a lot more stores are closing while consumers make their way to other, more affordable alternatives. Instead of going to one of the mall’s “anchor stores,” they are now going to places like WalMart, Target or K-Mart to purchase the things their families “need” rather than the things their families “want.”
Future Trends for HVAC Industry
By Betty Stephens
HVAC technology is constantly changing due to new discoveries and influences outside the industry. As recently as this century, central, indoor climate control was available to only a privileged few. Today, even central air-conditioning in homes is common in the U.S. Improvements occurred through a number of factors such as technical, market changes, energy and environmental concerns, and political decisions. Changes continue to occur and they benefit of our customers and are our part of our future.
The environment has possibly had more influence on HVAC technology than has energy. The environment will continue to impact the industry into the foreseeable future.
Policies regarding climate change have also directly impacted our industry. As we design and operate more energy-efficient equipment and systems, we use less energy, energy that, in many cases, comes from burning CO2-producing fossil fuels.
The environment will continue to impact the industry. The industry has proven that it can respond in a timely way. As new environmentally friendly products are developed, those products are also more energy efficient. Adopting new technologies and supporting research will help our industry meet the challenges of the future.
While smart, Wi-Fi-connected thermostats promise significantly increased energy efficiency, the real draw for homeowners seems to be how easy the interfaces are to operate. Take the Nest Learning thermostat, for example. It is programmed by the user to remember his preferred temperature settings. If the user prefers the thermostat to kick in a faster, warmer temperature, on cold, wintery mornings, the Nest thermostat will store that information and adjust the temperature accordingly. The thermostat also monitors temperature with humidity and activity sensors, and it can determine regional climate by the user punching in their zip code
Wireless-controlled thermostats present HVAC data in a language that contemporary consumers understand. Homeowners are accustomed to easily digestible, visual representations of information and data. The reporting tools that smart systems include take the mystery and obscurity out of an industry that has been thriving on overall complacency from its customers.
DEVap Air Conditioning
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) developed the DEVap (desiccant-enhanced evaporative air conditioner) in 2011 and estimates that it reduces air conditioning energy usage by 40-90 percent. So far, DEVap is found primarily in commercial buildings, and the technology is so new that it’s difficult to find for residential use. But, given how promising the innovation seems, and how cost-effective it has already proven to be, and is anticipated great gains in the future.
Zero Energy Buildings
Zero-energy buildings that produce energy instead of just using large quantities will gain traction with companies that target eco-friendly employees and consumers. Many businesses are already headed in this direction with geothermal heating and cooling, solar-powered systems, and white roofing. If HVAC manufacturers can work to design structures that are both energy efficient and comfortable for their residents, we’re sure to see some fresh companies take on the challenge.
Variable Refrigerant Flow Systems
A popular trend in Eastern markets, variable refrigerant flow (VRF) is the future of the HVAC industry. Though US market have yet to reach the demand experienced abroad, VRF systems are establishing their place as in-demand items for housing and commercial cooling needs. Simple and elegant in design, VRF systems connect an outside condensing unit to several fan coil units throughout the building. Each coil and evaporator in the system can be controlled individually to reduce waste from over-allocated resources. The shift will stimulate job growth and overall economic development throughout the HVAC sector that will continue well into the coming years.
Current industry trends indicate a future growth rate of nearly 28% nationwide. This trend is predicted to continue until 2018, a total period of researching and studying 10-year industry trends beginning in 2008. Studies have revealed that once the results of that research and those studies are complete, there will be nearly 395,000 individuals who make their living in the HVAC industry, and choose to make this their lifelong career Choice. The rate of change in our industry will be exponential. Some changes will be caused by improvements in technology whereas others will be the result of influences outside our immediate control. As engineers, we have an obligation to be proactive in encouraging changes that are of benefit to the society we serve. This in turn will have direct benefit to our industry and to each of us individually.
Building Management Systems and air-conditioning controls systems will develop to become:
• Intelligent self-learning systems that measure the performance characteristics for the building and its systems for different ambient and occupancy conditions and using thermal modelling technology are able to operate the buildings systems to provide the require conditions whilst minimizing energy consumption and plant wear and tear.
• Self-checking systems that are able to eliminate the fly by wire problems that many systems suffer from, which the head end computer is thinking one thing is happening however in the field the actuality is very different.
• Self-diagnosing systems that are able to determine fault conditions analyses the cause and report or even rectify the condition, systems that are able to recognize fault situations that are resulting in excess energy consumption or unacceptable equipment wear and report.
• Systems with seamless remote access, diagnosis and control functionality.
• Systems with the flexibility to take advantage of wireless technology and the onboard intelligence that is already starting to be installed in items of central plant
By Betty Stephens
Today human’s energy production is derived mainly from fuels, such as coil, oil and gas. Most of that energy is the sun’s stored energy. Sunlight is actually the Earth’s primary source of energy. Solar Power is the energy generated by sunlight. Solar energy is being increasingly adopted throughout the globe because of its environmental benefits. This type of energy produces no waste and does not give out any harmful emissions. Also, it does not put a strain on the Earth’s ecosystem by using up too much land.
The amount of energy generated by photosynthesis about six times larger than the whole human power consumption. There are two ways to convert sunlight into electricity: directly or indirectly.
1. Direct conversion is achieved by using Solar Panels. The solar panels are constructed with silicon PV cells/ Solar Panels can be installed on the ground, on countryside houses, or massive power plants, or on rooftops.
2. Indirect conversion is achieved by concentrating sunlight using lenses or mirrors to generate heat. The heat is then transferred to a transfer fluid for a conventional power plant or it can even be combined with PV arrays to improve their efficiency. It is the same basic process as using a magnifying glass to burn something.
How Solar Panel Work
Solar cells work because of the tendency of certain natural materials, called semiconductors, to convert light energy into an electric charge. Each cell produces a small voltage, and when you connect many cells together in a panel, their voltages add together to produce enough electrical power for home or industrial use. Solar panels produce free energy, but their production and installation involve significant expense.
Solar panels produce a DC voltage that fluctuates with the intensity of the impinging sunlight. To use this voltage to charge a battery, you have to regulate it and match it to the battery voltage by connecting the panels to the battery via a charge controller. This controller not only regulates voltage, it also monitors the batteries and disconnects the current when they are full to prevent overcharging. In order to use the DC current from the batteries in your house, you must route the electricity through an inverter, which converts it to usable AC current.
To approximately measure the efficiency and solar power output of your installation you can use one of the available online solar calculators. They can provide you with a rough estimate of your need.
1. PVWatts is the standard and most accepted one inside the solar community. A tool developed and hosted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
You can use the following link: PVWatts map viewer
There you can either pick your location by using the map or directly entering your ZIP code. When found, you should click the “Send to PVWatts” button.
Then you will be sent to the PVWatts Calculator page where you will be asked to fill in some details corresponding to your hypothetical PV array setup. The application is well documented and provides help for every field.
2. Solar Estimator is a very good application from solar-estimate.org that has a wider variety of options such as solar hot water systems and solar spa/pool heating. You can test it by clicking this link. The approach is different from PVWatts since it returns the necessary setup to provide a determined percentage of your electrical consumption. The information output is complete, showing charts and lots of useful data.
1. Find Solar Calculator is an application similar to the Solar Estimator with much less output information but with interesting data like carbon emission savings. You can test it by clicking this link.
2. The rest. Most contractors’ website have their own solar calculators.
When considering installing your own PV solar system, speak to a qualified and licensed solar professional about your specific situation. Keep in mind the following benefits. Advantages:
• Free Energy – The sun provides the “fuel” to generate power for the home’s electrical system and components. This saves money on electricity bills
• Clean Energy – Electricity generated by the sun produces no harmful emissions. This reduces the home’s carbon footprint.
• Installation Incentives – Federal, state and local jurisdictions periodically offer grants, tax breaks, discounts and rebates for the installation of renewable energy products, including solar systems.
• Reduced Dependency – Generating your own solar power using panels on your roof means you are not as dependent on utilities and the electric power grid to provide your electricity.
• Inconsistent Fuel Source – The sun doesn’t shine 24 hours a day. Some locations have trees or taller buildings that could shade your roof.
• High Initial Cost – Even with multiple incentives, a solar power system may still cost tens of thousands of dollars.
• Site preparation – If the system is a retrofit (not part of new construction, but built on to an existing structure), expenses related to reconfiguring the house’s electric system will be necessary.
• Maintenance – Generating your own electricity means that the upkeep of the system is in your hands
Energy Savings Tips
By Betty Stephens of Quest Media
Whether you own or rent your home, you typically need lighting, heating, air conditioning, power for equipment, and other services. Here are some tips to help you to maximize energy efficiency and save you money all the while helping the environment.
Energy Saving Tips
Here are some Heating and Air Conditioning suggestions to save you on your energy costs.
1. Maintenance – Tune-up the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system with annual maintenance. Even a new system declines in performance without regular maintenance. Having a contract automatically ensures that your HVAC contractor will provide pre-season tune-ups before each cooling and heating season. You can save energy and money, and your system should last longer with minimal costs for yearly maintenance fees.
2. Cleaning – Changing (or cleaning if reusable) HVAC filters every month during peak cooling or heating seasons. New filters usually only cost a few dollars. Dirty filters cost more to use, overwork the equipment and result in lower indoor air quality.
3. Sun Light – Control direct sun through windows, depending on the season and local climate. During cooling season, block direct heat gain from the sun shining through glass on the East and especially West sides of the house. You may choose solar screens, solar films, awnings, and vegetation can help keep homes cooler. Trees shade the house and help clean the air. Interior curtains or drapes can help, but it’s best to prevent the summer heat from getting past the glass and inside. During heating season, with the sun low in the South, unobstructed southern windows can contribute solar heat gained during the day.
4. Fans – Use fans to maintain comfortable temperature, humidity and air movement, and save energy year round. Moving air can make a somewhat higher temperature and/or humidity feel comfortable. Fans can help delay or reduce the need for air conditioning, and a temperature setting of only three to five degrees higher can feel as comfortable with fans. Each degree of higher temperature can save about 3 percent on home cooling costs. When the temperature outside is more comfortable than inside, a box fan in the window, or large whole house fan in the attic can push air out and pull in comfortable air.
5. Caulking – Plug leaks with weather stripping and caulking. Caulking and weather stripping let you manage your ventilation, which is the deliberate controlled exchange of stuffy inside air for fresher outdoor air.
No matter the season your home is competing with the weather outside to make sure the inside temperature remains comfortable. As outside temperatures cool off in the winter and heat up in the summer, your heating and cooling equipment requires more energy to keep your home at the desired comfort level.
Home heating and cooling accounts for approximately 50 percent of the average home owner’s energy costs. You can get control of your home’s comfort level and your heating and cooling costs by following the above simple tips.
AMBIT ENERGY COMPANY
Written By: Betty Stephens of Quest Media
Ambit Energy is a United States multilevel marketing retail electricity and natural gas provider that serves residential and commercial customers in states where energy has been deregulated. Corporate headquarters are located in Dallas, Texas, and operations/call center headquarters are located in Plano, Texas. Ambit Energy was founded in 2006 in Addison, Texas by Jere Thompson Jr. and Chris Chambless.
Electric and natural gas Customers throughout California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington, D.C. are choosing Ambit Energy as their choice in energy today. Ambit has grown to serve over 1 million Customers in only six years. And, it is said that those who make the switch often stay with Ambit for the signature perks they offer. They offer free energy when a customer refers 15 new Customers, or the customer may choose Travel Rewards for trips and cruises. They have created one of the most attractive Customer rewards programs in the industry. Once the customer signs up, they can begin the benefits of being an Ambit Energy Customer right away.
Ambit also offers an app for convenience in the palm of the customer’s hand. Depending on service territory, customers can enjoy freedom to pay bills, view usage and update account details from any web-enabled device.
Ambit Energy obtains customers through a network of independent consultants who work directly with the customers. Ambit Energy uses direct selling and is a member of the Direct Selling Association of America. Direct selling is the marketing and selling of products directly to consumers away from a fixed retail location.
• Ambit Energy was named 2010’s Fastest Growing Privately Held Company by Inc. 500 and placed 390 in 2011.
• Ambit Energy placed 15th on the Direct Selling News Global 100 List in 2011 and 14th in 2012.
Ambit Energy Customers in Texas receive transmission and distribution services from the following energy companies:
1. AEP Texas provides electricity to residents throughout southern and western Texas.
2. CenterPoint Energy provides electricity to the 5,000 square mile footprint of the Houston metropolitan area.
3. Oncor provides electricity to residents of northern, western and central Texas.
4. TNMP provides electricity for western and northern central Texas, as well as areas of the Gulf Coast region.
Ambit has been criticized for its direct sales model, and for being a multi-level marketing company. In May 2011, Ambit was sued by a consultant, who alleged that Ambit’s structure is a pyramid scheme. By August 2012, after several amendments and alterations to the original complaints including the removal of all allegations of fraud, a judge dismissed the case.
Ambit’s sales representatives have also been accused of overstating the benefits of participation, and of being overly aggressive in marketing to vulnerable customers such as the elderly, and non-English speakers, who might not fully understand the complexities of energy pricing.