Consumer vs Prosumer: What’s the Difference?

Read the full post at Energy.gov.

Most of us have been consuming electricity from the grid the same way for more than a century now.

But that’s starting to change.

A new buzzword is out on the streets signaling a growing shift in how we power our homes and communities – “prosumers.”

Simply put, a prosumer is someone who both produces and consumes energy – a shift made possible, in part, due to the rise of new connected technologies and the steady increase of more renewable power like solar and wind onto our electric grid.

Think of it like a Facebook feed or YouTube page. Most users don’t just read or watch content – they also create their own and actively add to the conversation on social media.

American households use a variety of lightbulbs as CFL and LED adoption increases

Read the full story from the Energy Information Administration.

As lighting technologies evolve and adapt to federal standards, lighting in U.S. homes is in a state of transition. Data from the 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) show that, as of 2015, most homes in the United States used more than one type of lightbulb, primarily a mix of incandescent and compact fluorescent (CFL). Adoption of light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs has been increasing, with 29% of U.S. households reporting at least one LED bulb installed.

I Want To Eat Fish Responsibly. But The Seafood Guides Are So Confusing!

Read the full story from NPR.

This month, I ventured to ask the man behind the counter at a Whole Foods Market what kind of shrimp he was selling. “I don’t know,” he replied. “I think they’re just normal shrimp.” I glanced at the sustainable seafood guide on my phone. There were 80 entries for shrimp, none of them listed “normal.”

What about the cod? Was it Atlantic or Pacific? Atlantic. How was it caught? I asked. “I’m not sure,” he said, looking doubtfully at a creamy fish slab. “With nets, I think. Not with harpoons.”

The shrimp had a blue sticker shaped like a fish on it, which appeared to be some type of official approval. Plus, they were on sale. I bought half a pound.

I was using the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch app, one of a handful of sustainable seafood guides which base their recommendations of sustainable seafood on a range of factors, including where the fish came from, how it was caught or farmed and how the local environment was affected. Spend an hour trying to make sense of these guides, and you may feel more confused than when you started — and guilty about putting an unsuspecting grocery employee on the spot.

2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) data now available

The first data from the 2015 RECS are now available. These housing characteristics tables, featuring estimates of fuel use, structural characteristics of homes, heating, appliances, electronics, and more, can be found at http://www.eia.gov/ consumption/residential/data/ 2015/.

EIA expects to release an overview of the 2015 data, a methodology report, and the preliminary public use microdata file in April. Square footage estimates from the 2015 RECS are expected in summer 2017. Estimates of energy consumption and expenditures are currently in production and are anticipated to be released in 2018.

EIA’s 2015 RECS Household Survey captured information about more than 200 energy-related items from more than 5,600 households. The 2015 RECS is the 14th iteration of the program, which has been conducted periodically since 1978.

Mardi Gras beads make a much bigger mess than you’d imagine

Read the full story in Grist.

Shiny, colorful bead necklaces, also known as “throws,” are now synonymous with Mardi Gras.

Even if you’ve never been to the Carnival celebrations, you probably know the typical scene that plays out on New Orleans’ Bourbon Street every year: Revelers line up along the parade route to collect beads tossed from floats. Many try to collect as many as possible, and some drunken revelers will even expose themselves in exchange for the plastic trinkets.

But the celebratory atmosphere couldn’t be more different from the grim factories in the Fujian province of China, where teenage girls work around the clock making and stringing together the green, purple, and gold beads.

I’ve spent several years researching the circulation of these plastic beads, and their life doesn’t begin and end that one week in New Orleans. Beneath the sheen of the beads is a story that’s far more complex — one that takes place in the Middle East, China, and the United States, and is symptomatic of a consumer culture built on waste, exploitation, and toxic chemicals.

The Personal Lives of Forgotten Trinkets

Read the full story from CityLab.

In an average week, Norm Diamond frequented as many as 10 estate sales scattered in various parts of Dallas, Texas. Perusing thousands of possessions left behind by previous homeowners, he photographed the ones that struck him. Spanning 15 months, the project started in March 2015. The result is a poignant series of images capturing the soul of wasted items—one-time cherished possessions, now left to collect dust and money from those keen to newly reclaim them as their own.