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green projects – life hacks

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Friday Sep 11, 2015

A warm friday afternoon hosted the Life Hacks workshop of the Green Projects. Two kids rode their bikes, reading the dreams trespassers had written on the “Before I Die” wall built for the Sydenham Revival Pop-Up Park. I did not know that I would see a similar situation a few minutes later when the Manage Your Energy team unloaded their equipment. Instead of a dream; the team was ready to start writing the future.

In a few minutes I could proudly observe them building the workshop layout. They assembled it fast, and this characteristic would be seen again in all the solutions they would be presenting that day; practical solutions that are surprisingly simple.


Tables settled, and the famous PV Tree (a solar panel tree assembled by the Energy System Engineering Technologists) ready, the team quickly began the most difficult part of the job; gathering people and starting the audacious plan of expanding people’s energy conservation minds.

I have to say that they managed this task gracefully and with enthusiasm. The workshop was composed of four stations, and people were encouraged to go through all of them and share their experience with us.

The first station was where they were teaching how to decrease the time you have to use your drier, reducing 25% of the energy consumed by the drying process. The audience learned in a hands-on way by wrapping tennis balls with wool. These tennis balls would be inserted inside the dryer. The weight of the tennis balls unclumps the clothing reducing drying time, saving energy, and saving money. Additionally, the layer of wool provides extra absorption reducing drying time even more.

Domestic hot water heaters are one of highest consuming components of energy in our homes therefore affecting our electricity bill. That was the focus of the second station. The team showed participants how to insulate the hot water pipes in order to reduce the energy lost through the pipes. They used pipe insulation tubes to wrap the pipes. It is a common material that you can find at any Home Depot store.

The third station was the DIY bucket HVAC unit station. This ingenious piece of equipment is incredibly simple to build. In a plastic container our team made a hole in the top lid and mounted a fan. They made three small holes in the side of the box assuring air flow. Inside the container you have the option to either put a reusable, heated sock full of rice for heating or a frozen 2L, bag of peas, or bag of ice to provide cooling in the summer. This localized heating/cooling helps reduce load on your heating/cooling system.

The last station was to simulate a thermostat placement in a house. The team showed how the warm air flow could interfere with the thermostat. So by building a shelf under the thermostat, the hot air flow prevents short-cycling your heating/cooling system. They also demonstrated that when sun light hits the sensor, your house will think its hotter than it actually is causing your AC to work harder than it needs to. By putting books on the bookshelf we can shade the  thermostat, therefore saving you energy.

The lesson I have learned that Friday was that world is simpler than we see it. If we break down the real big problems that man kind is facing; such as global warming and pollution, we can see in a very clear way that we are in the control. We have the habit of seeing our life like we are watching TV, cheering for hockey teams, for movie actors and so on. It is time to leave the audience and jump up on stage, assume the fact we are the protagonists of the great theater of life. I changed that Friday afternoon, when I decided to take control of my actions in order to deliver a better place to my friends. When the change starts for you?