Computers are becoming an increasingly have become an integral part of our life largely because of the time they save. The even conserve energy by allowing us telecommute and order products from the comfort of our home. However they obviously use electricity, electricity that is often coming from dirty forms of energy such as coal. Luckily, manufacturers like Dell and Hewlett Packard are striving to “green” their image and produce computers that use significantly less power. Fortunately, there are also things you can do to reduce the energy consumption of the computer you are using right now. The folks at the Lifehacker blog have compiled a great list of the Top 10 Computing Energy Savers.

The Energy COOL series is dedicated to discussions of such 'cool' programs, options for moving toward a better energy future.

Solar cooking is one of these, a renewable power source that offers real opportunities for making a difference globally.

Now, if you want to learn more about it, there are links later in the diary, but first, there is an opportunity to see them upclose and personal if you are in the DC area. (And, by the way, a chance to get some free food.

Public Demonstration of Eight Solar Cookers

U.S . Capitol Grounds

Washington, D.C.

* Friday, July 27, 12 – 6pm

* Upper Senate Park by the fountain

Okay, you can get a chance to see them. But, so what?

According to the EPA, almost three billion people still cook every day with traditional solid fuels (primarily wood, charcoal and animal waste). Their numbers are expected to increase substantially by 2020. The vast majority of these people live within thirty degrees north or south of the equator where the sun shines much of the year. The World Health Organization reports that over 1.5 million people die of respiratory disease each year by inhaling the fumes of their cooking fires. In developing nations millions of women and their children (who should be in school) spend hours each day foraging for fuel, resulting in denuded land, soil erosion, flooding and reduction in forest cover. Refugee women in the Darfur region of Sudan risk beatings and rape when they leave their camps in search of firewood. Cooking with fire also causes serious burns and eye damage.

In addition, the deforestration for cooking and the ash from cooking fires have a real impact on Global Warming. From Wood stoves are big culprits in climate change:

Cooking stoves fuelled by wood or crop residue are contributing to climate change significantly more than expected, say researchers. …

When released into the atmosphere, the black, noxious particles – which are darker than those produced by grassland or forest fires – absorb light and increase atmospheric temperatures.

“They can absorb energy and keep it in the Earth's system when it would otherwise escape,”

Okay, want to stop global warming, then stopping excessive wood (and charcoal?) cooking is one of the things to do. And, well, solar cooking is a path toward achieving this.

Back to the press release for the Hill event:

Solar cooking can dramatically reduce these problems. The benefits of using solar cookers whenever the sun is shining, in addition to smoke-free cooking, include: job creation; technology transfer; capacity building; decreased deforestation; reduction in CO2 emissions from cooking fires; preservation of forests and ground cover; sterilization of medical instruments; reduction in respiratory, lung, intestinal and eye diseases; and the ability to pasteurize water for drinking. Solar cooking, when used as part of an integrated cooking program can reduce fuel consumption by more than 75%!

And think about that. The solar stove is a substitution of a one-time capital expense for the potential of a 75% cut in energy use, saving money (e.g., a real savings in the Cost to Own) while truly offering the opportunity for improved living conditions for many people around the world, while helping to slow Global Warming.

What are we waiting for. Let's get these things out there.

More than one million solar cookers are in use in China and India alone. Solar cookers of various types are also used on a limited basis in many parts of Africa, South Asia, Central and South America. Seasonally, they are used as far north as Afghanistan and Nepal and as far south as Chile. Even American ice fishermen in the Great Lakes region use solar box cookers to cook on sunny winter days.

Alright, they are out there. Sort of. There are literally 100s of millions (if not billions) more people around the globe who would benefit from solar cookers (for cooking food, purifying water, heating water for bathing). And, well, the Globe would benefit if they had them.

The press release finished:

Millions more could benefit from this simple technology-if only they knew about it!

That is only partially true, the knowledge isn't necessarily enough.

Solar cooking is not a core part of the US government's approach to foreign aid … actually, it really isn't part of US foreign aid. And that is beyond shameful, it is simply foolish. Solar cookers support many of the Millenium Goals and can foster improvement in many domains at the same time.

Coincidentally, the Christian Science Monitor has two (connected) articles on solar cookers today. Simple sun-cooker takes off as a way to help Darfuris and Darfur refugees tap the sun's power to cook. This is a powerful story and an example of how a relativelyrefugee camp small non-profit (Jewish World Watch) has managed to seize onto a concept, stick with it, and make a real difference in the world. Solar Cookers for Darfur refugees in Chad has reduced deforestration, given a business enterprise for women in the camp, and reduced rape incidents as woman do not need to spend their days searching for firewood.

activists … nationwide … have raised money for a project that addresses the rape, mutilation, and murder of Darfuri women – now among at least 2 million Sudanese displaced by the conflict. The aim: Supply families with solar cookers and teach women in refugee camps new cooking skills so they don't have to burn wood.

Solar cooking is effective. In your backyard, in Indian military units, and in refugee camps.

Solar cooking is being Energy Smart!


* Solar Cookers International is a non-profit seeking to “spread solar cooking skills and technologies where they are needed most.

Within their website is Solar Cooking Archive, a major resource, with many (MANY) links.

* Solar Household Energy, Inc: A non-profit that ” seeks to harness free enterprise to introduce solar cooking where it can improve quality of life and relieve stress on the environment.” They have developed an excellent system, the HotPot, which they are seeking to spread throughout the developing world. (Americans can buy a HotPot via SunOven.ORG — $99.95.)

* Sun Ovens International, dedicated to “Saving Lives by Preserving Forests Around the World”. Has a very large system Village Sun Oven(Villager Sun Oven) “designed for large-scale feeding situations that require cooking great volumes of food quickly.” This can hit 500+ F cooking temperatures. For Americans, there is the quite excellent Sun Oven, which folds wonderfully and can be easily moved around for barbecueing, traveling or otherwise. Want to cook a 15 lb Turkey while camping, the Sun Oven can do the trick without any campfire.

* Tulsi Hybrid Oven is a combo electric, solar cooking system that enables one to plan a meal, even amid cloudy weather. The claim is roughly a 75% reduction in electricity use. This is a system that can cook at home, be taken on picnics, or support an off-grid life. A recent review of solar cooking options gave the Tulsi five stars.

Although it is portable, hybrid stovethe Hybrid Solar Oven is a little too heavy to carry up into the woods. But if you don't want to be sitting hungry wishing the clouds would go away, this solar oven is the best bet you can make. It uses the sun when rays are available, and switches to electric power from a normal 120V outlet when clouds move in.

Well, if you want to spend just a few dollars to build one and test it out, check out

How to Build A Solar Cooker. There are many easy to execute plans, many of which should cost just a few dollars to make. (And, well, some are a bit fancier. Check out the Cob (photo show) and imagine it finished with tiles, would make a pretty fancy backyard barbecue, no?)

Now, back to the Solar Cooking Demonstration.

I went today. It was great. Got a chance to seek lots of different cookers, talk to dedicated people, and taste some great food — all cooked solely with the sun's rays.

And, in the coming months, I'll have the chance to be cooking with many of these systems myself and come back to let you know whether I master the art of cooking with the sun.

Ask yourself:

Are you doing

your part to


Are you ready to do your part?

Your voice can … and will make a difference.

Be ready to speak.

Cross-posted from Daily Kos and Energy Smart

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