Best Environmental Non Fiction Books



If you want to know more about the natural world and all the ins and outs of the debates surrounding it, pick up a book. There’s a lot out there, so we’ve compiled a list of the best. By no means exclusive, this list is meant to be a broad sampling of interesting, diverse green titles.

Happy reading!

The mother of muckraking environmental books about the effects of pollution. Carson’s book received endless criticism from chemical manufacturers and policymakers, before everything she proposed about the danger of pesticides was proven true and their use was finally curtailed or, in the case of DDT, banned.

Best Energy Efficient Freezers 2011


Searching around for the best energy efficient freezer for your home? Good idea.

If you’re considering buying a new freezer, look for an Energy Star-approved model. They use less energy to power them, so they help the environment and save you money on your utility bills.

The Energy Star program recommends that when you purchase a new freezer, you choose a manually-defrosting model, as they use less energy than automatically-defrosting models. Also, buy an appropriately-sized model that fits your needs. Larger-capacity freezers need more energy to keep cold, so if you don’t need a lot of space, get a smaller model. Freezers also use less energy when they are full than when they are empty. And choose a chest freezer over an upright freezer, as the top-mounted door allows less cold air to escape.

Most energy-efficient freezers
Summit model CF11ES

This list was compiled in May 2011 from data on the Energy Star website, and models were ordered by percentage of less energy each consumes, compared to the mandated energy usage for a unit that size. Some of the most efficient are small, refrigerator/freezer combos, but we only list dedicated freezers here.

Please note that entries with asterisks (*) denote characters in the model codes that deal with color, or other factors that have nothing to do with energy use.

10. Danby DCFM425WDD** freezer

This is a 14.8-cubic-foot model with an insulated cabinet and lid. It will defrost manually and has an easy-access drain. Energy Star estimates that it will use 354 kwh of power a year. This model is 11% more efficient than standard units of this size. It costs $580.

2012 Hybrid Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup


Update: We have now published the 2013 Hybrid Cars in the USA article.

In the market for a vehicle and thinking about buying a new hybrid car? 2012 is shaping to be an important year in the story of hybrid vehicles, as almost every major manufacturer will be offering, releasing, or announcing a hybrid product.

While the Tohuku earthquake in Japan has affected 2011 plans, the Japanese are muscling ahead with 2012 hybrid launches. The Germans have finally entered the hybrid market in a serious way, with BMW, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche all offering a hybrid product – especially on their SUVs. Of the domestic manufacturers, GM is still evolving their hybrid full-size SUVs, but is readying some car hybrids for 2012 that should give Ford’s dominance in domestic hybrid sales a strong challenge. Chrysler’s recent reorganization with Fiat means hybrid drivetrains won’t be expected from them until 2013 however.

The most exciting thing about the 2012 lineup is that hybrid technology has been embraced by the mainstream as an important way of improving the environmental impact of car usage. One study predicts that all new cars will have some level of hybridization by 2020.

So here is the lineup of 2012’s hybrid cars, SUVs, minivans and pickups. Please note that we define hybrid vehicles as ones that have a drivetrain that can be powered by its gasoline engine. See our 2012 Electric Car Lineup for vehicles with drivetrains powered only by their electric motor.

Audi Hybrids

Audi, as part of the massive VW universe (along with Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Skoda and Seat) has committed resources for hybrid models after witnessing their success here. While European markets are still more interested in diesel engines, Americans have been clamoring – and will now get – hybridized Audis, albeit slowly. Audi continues to maintain, though, that diesels are the superior engine of choice for efficiency.

2012 Hybrid Cars USA
2012 Audi Q5 Hybrid

Q5 Hybrid Quattro car – The first Audi hybrid car to reach our shores for sale, the Q5 mates a compact crossover body with an efficient all-wheel drivetrain. Utilizing a 208hp 4-cylinder engine as its base, Audi mates a 44hp electric motor to give its first hybrid the scoot of the V6 (0-60 in 7 flat) with economy better than the base 4 (an estimated 33 MPG combined). Audi claims the Q5 is able to run for almost 2 miles on electricity alone at speeds under 62 MPH, but few reviewers have been able to achieve that. Expect a 15% price premium, at an estimated MSRP of $48,000 when it goes on sale.

 

A6 Hybrid car (2012 or 2013) – At the January 2011 Detroit auto show, Audi unveiled an A6 sedan with a hybrid powertrain borrowed from the Q5. Despite the combination being showroom ready, Audi has not released an on-sale date for the hybrid sedan.

2012 Electric Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup


Mitsubishi MiEV electric car
Mitsubishi MiEV

Update: Our 2013 Electric Cars in the USA article is now available.

In the market for a vehicle and thinking about buying a new electric car in 2012? Electric vehicles (EVs) are coming into their own, and 2012 is a great year to be considering one.

While Nissan and Chevrolet are the mainstream muscle making up the meat of 2011’s electric car sales, newcomers like Tesla are still surging forward, with sales of over 1500 of its revolutionary Roadster model. Strong sales of conventional luxury cars and increased consumer interest in alternative energy have given confidence to the major luxury brands to develop electric vehicles. Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Infiniti and even Rolls Royce have shown a commitment to releasing electric automobiles in 2012 and beyond.

For the rest of the population, Ford is on track for 2012 launch dates of two EVs, Mitsubishi is launching the diminutive i MiEV, Toyota pushes ahead with its EV development and the Chinese are tipped to break into the American car market with an all-electric product. Other smaller players have announced 2012 on-sale dates as well.

If you’re in the market for an electric vehicle, don’t forget to check its “MPGe.” In November of 2010 the EPA announced the MPGe — a new equivalent mileage rating based on EPA’s formula, in which 33.7 kilowatt hours of electricity is equivalent to one gallon of gasoline. Look for the new rating in reviews and on window stickers in showrooms. Please note that we define electric vehicles as ones that have a drivetrain that is only powered by its electric motor. See our 2012 Hybrid Car Lineup for vehicles with drivetrains that can be powered by a gasoline engine.

Aptera Electric Cars

The unusual airplane-like Aptera 2e has been in gestation longer than the Volt, but currently does not have a firm on-sale date. Reservations are being accepted, but company spokespersons declined to offer any further information on availability. We suspect you’ll never see this car for sale, as we’ve been reading about delays for years.

Audi Electric Cars

Audi has shown a spate of concepts, all called e-Tron, featuring all-electric drive trains. The mighty R8 sports car has been converted into an all-electric concept, which is rumored for 2012 production. Audi has declined to comment on an on-sale date, but expect a price in excess of $150,000 for this gorgeous electric sports car.

Best Energy Efficient Dishwashers 2011

Looking at reviews to find the best, energy efficient dishwasher for your home? Good idea!

Your home appliances can really add to your energy bills — and your carbon footprint.

If you’re in the market for a new dishwasher, look for a model that’s Energy Star certified. Energy Star is a program that was started by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the 1990’s. It created a certification standard for energy-efficient computers and appliances. The EPA says that in 2006, $14 billion were saved in energy costs through the implementation of Energy Star products.

Most energy-efficient dishwashers
Bosch Model SHE68E05UC

Here’s a list of the top ten best dishwashers available in the U.S. in 2011, ranked strictly by efficiency. Most of these are premium dishwashers, so you’ll also get a quiet dishwasher that cleans well too. Model numbers with asterisks (*), contain characters that denote color, or another variable unrelated to energy efficiency. This list was compiled using Energy Star’s Energy Factor criteria, which is a measurement of energy use per cycle. The higher the Energy Factor, the better.