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Posts Tagged ‘Shower’

SpiroFlo looks at how environmental issues and personal health issues became linked.

Last week, I met with a company interested in partnering with SpiroFlo as part of their “energy oasis”—essentially redesigning how cities are built to make them more energy efficient. For SpiroFlo, we have two main applications in residential water:

  • Reducing water consumption and improving the quality of what is used (both for drinking water and shower quality); and
  • Reducing pressures required on water pumps, saving energy and reducing wear.

As we connected, the owner of this energy oasis company mentioned that he was midway through dropping 50+ pounds. At least part of the reason for this weight loss is because he works in clean tech and, in his words, “Environmentalists don’t like fat guys.”

Well, then…

fat squirrel

Thank you, “Animal Obesity” section of Wikimedia Commons; I couldn’t have written this article without you.

I wouldn’t say environmentalists specifically dislike overweight people, but I’ve acknowledged this connection before—that environmental and personal health issues are tied. Yet when I think about why this is the case, the logic doesn’t work. You could hypothecate that someone who doesn’t care about their own health won’t care about the health of the planet, but it’s just that—a theory. Besides, if your stance on the health of the earth can be tied to your personal health, why not make meaningful assumptions based off the health of a person’s car (how often they wash it, change their oil, etc.) or the health of their home (how often they clean, etc.). Granted, homes and cars aren’t living, but to connect personal and environmental “health,” you do have to stretch the term.

Yet the perceived connection between environmentalism and personal health is still there, regardless of whether I can logically separate the two. So I set out to see if there was a credible connection between physical health and environmental health.

As far as I can tell, there isn’t.

This then brings us back to one major explanation: Bias.

We all have bias, and the more accepted ones bubble to the surface.

There’s a theory that says fat and/or bald people can’t win the U.S. presidency in this visual era. That makes sense, as we all know a politician like Winston Churchill made great decisions because of his Adonis physique and flowing Fabio hair. But he’s a Brit, so bad example anyway.

Maybe we can turn to art to help point out these foolish fallacies. No wait, that won’t work. Last time we got “Shallow Hal.” If you’re fortunate enough to not remember “Shallow Hal,” well, your luck has run out. It was a 2001 romantic comedy where a fat guy named Hal (played by Jack Black) is only attracted to gorgeous women until real-life, big-toothed, self-help Guru Tony Robbins hypnotizes him into viewing women’s physical appearances based on the goodness of their hearts. (Yup, Tony Robbins hypnotizing people to see inner beauty… this is the actual plot line.) What you got next was Gwyneth Paltrow in a fat suit, so that she could play both the skinny inner beauty version of her character and the actual version of her character that was overweight, because skinny is automatically beautiful and fat is automatically ugly, see?

Also, according to this movie, everyone who is physically unattractive has a fat heart of gold. No pandering there, and it totally doesn’t sound hollow after making a slew of stereotypical fat jokes. Really, you can find far deeper criticism of “Shallow Hal,” but the biggest offense is that for all the social faux pas it offered, it was still a crap flick. You can get away with a whole lot more if you’re actually funny.

Regardless, the tie between how you take care of your own body and how you take care of the earth is there, even if it shouldn’t be. Thus you’ve got one more reason to make your New Year’s resolution to get to the gym. It’s not like having a sustainable, green technology will get you taken seriously by the clean tech crowd. Mother Nature cares about those abs.

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Have a great New Year. We’ll see you in 2016.

Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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By Tomas Castelazo (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsSpiroFlo covers the impact of the 2012-2013 Colorado drought and how water utilities are responding.

With 2012 and 2013 slated to be the two worst Colorado drought years on record, Denver Water has declared a stage two drought.

I’m going to assume the term ‘stage two drought’ doesn’t magically fill your mind with water restriction information, so let me break it down a little: Basically, as a water utility — in this case: Denver Water — declares a higher level of drought, the more restrictions (fines and flow limits) there are. Stage one is “We’re asking nicely for you to limit your own water use”; stage two is the start of “We’re done asking. Here’s what you have to do.”

From Denver Water:

  • Stage 1 Drought: A Stage 1 drought will alert customers that water supplies are below average and continued dry weather could lead to a Stage 2 drought declaration. Stage 1 calls for customers to voluntarily reduce water use.
  • Stage 2 Drought: A Stage 2 drought imposes mandatory water use restrictions and requires a significant effort on the part of customers. Stage 2 water use restrictions will appear in the Operating Rules. A surcharge program may be used to support water use restrictions and help reduce customer water use. Customers who violate Stage 2 drought restrictions will be subject to increasing penalties, including the possibility of a flow restrictor or suspension of water service.

As this is the worst Colorado drought on record (and overall, 2012 was both the hottest year on record and it made the top 10 worst U.S. droughts), Denver Water hasn’t yet reached stages three and four, but they do exist:

  • Stage 3 Drought: A Stage 3 drought imposes mandatory water restrictions on Denver Water’s customers. Stage 3 drought restrictions are severe and will probably result in significant damage to or loss of landscapes. Customers who violate Stage 3 drought restrictions will be subject to increasing penalties at levels higher than in a Stage 2 drought, including the possibility of a flow restrictor or suspension of water service.
  • Stage 4 Drought: A Stage 4 drought activates a rationing program for Denver Water’s customers. Conditions that would lead to a Stage 4 drought are highly unlikely. However, if conditions warrant, Denver Water may implement a rationing program for an indefinite period of time to ensure, to the extent possible, that there is adequate water for essential uses.

Interestingly enough, there is no limit to the drought stages, so while a stage 42 drought may require an initial 41 stages of catastrophic water shortages, it should also reveal the answer to everything:

In the meantime, many environmentalists see a silver lining in water being more valued during periods of extreme dryness.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Although it’ll be receiving a few more tweaks over the coming weeks, the new SpiroFlo.com is live! We’ve got sections on how the SpiroFlo device provides homes with a faster, better shower with green benefits as well as sections on how the SpiroFlo device removes biofilm in industrial applications. Be sure to come on by and see how shiny it is.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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SpiroFlo reports on southeast England’s decision to send out 30,000 waterproof timers in an attempt to encourage shorter showers (to save water during their drought).

Although we’ve reported primarily on droughts in the U.S., it’s interesting to see how other parts of the world respond to water shortages.

After two dry winters, southeast England—the most populated area of Britain—was declared in drought (while the northwest and Scotland experienced more rainfall than normal). This drought, so far, has led to increased wildfires, low reservoirs, and increased fish deaths (correlating to higher food prices). With the 2012 Summer Olympics scheduled to take place in London, water companies are scrambling to find new ways to save water.

According to The Telegraph, a U.K. newspaper (with yes, U.K. spelling), the “average person in the UK uses a huge amount of water, using up 150 litres of water a day compared to just 127 litres per person in Germany.”

With this in mind, the two major water companies in the affected areas—Anglican Water and Southeast Water—sent out 30,000 free waterproof timers in the last year to make people aware of spending less time in the shower. Based on manufacturing and shipping costs, this move can’t have been cheap, but in this case, water is the rarer commodity.

This type of waste awareness tactic is not unique. Most people learned, at some point, to save water by taking showers instead of baths, completely loading the dishwasher, fixing leaky faucets, and turning off the tap while their brushing teeth. Expecting people to stick to a four-minute shower, however, might be a tougher sell. Much like regulations on watering lawns, these types of changes have a harder acceptance rate and some wind up enforced as water laws.

Another part of the problem is that many of the “standard” water-saving technologies have run their course. There are only so many low-flow shower heads and toilets to install; it’s time for new water- and energy-saving technologies.

Given that SpiroFlo is one of those water- and energy-saving technologies, I’ll close with a quick plug:

The Colorado Governor’s Energy Office awarded SpiroFlo a grant through the Innovative Funding for Energy Efficiency (IFEE) program. This grant enabled SpiroFlo to test its water-saving device in homes around the Denver Metro area. During the trial, participants recorded their wait time for hot water at the designated outlet for 5-7 days both before and after the installation of the SpiroFlo device.

The SpiroFlo device in a bypass layout

This IFEE study concluded that the patented SpiroFlo device allows for a faster shower for most homeowners (4 out of 5), all while conserving water, electricity and providing green benefits on day one. The average wait time for hot water in positive installs went down from 62.41 seconds to 40.77 seconds—a 34.82% reduction. In addition to the wait time benefits, there is also an average water volume savings of 3.5% at every hot water outlet in the house. With the combined benefits in wait time and volume savings, a four-person household can conserve an average of 3,869 gallons a year (as well as the energy savings from not having to heat/reheat water). Using these average numbers as the standard, if only 20% of Colorado housing units had a SpiroFlo device installed, this could translate into saving nearly 1.68 billion gallons annually. If every housing unit in the U.S. had a SpiroFlo device, the total amount of water conserved in a year would be over 500 billion gallons.

There are also anecdotal benefits from the SpiroFlo device. These include getting hotter water (confirmed in 40% of trial households), less energy being used to re-heat the water, higher water pressure and softer skin (this benefit was confirmed by a hydrologist). One SpiroFlo installed at the outlet of a hot water tank is a complete system for the whole house. There is no need for the costly modifications and ventilation requirements associated with tankless and recirculating devices. Savvy DIY homeowners are able to install the SpiroFlo device themselves and several plumbers expressed interest in absorbing the cost of the SpiroFlo device within their standard installation costs. The SpiroFlo device has no moving parts, meaning there’s nothing to wear out, nothing to maintain.

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For more on the southeast drought (including a drought and rain map), see The Telegraph’s article “Take an ‘egg timer’ into the shower say water companies as South East declared in drought”

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Here’s why we work hard to promote residential hot water savings with the patented, cost-effective SpiroFlo device:

That beer and chocolate better be really good…

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) 

Read Full Post »

SpiroFlo discusses the struggle of marketing a green technology to the hardcore green crowd and how it’s important to find the Baby Bear of environmentalists: Those who are green enough to value everyday resource savings, but not so green that they aren’t widely accessible (by their beliefs about business or their frugal lifestyles).

SpiroFlo was recently invited to buy ad space on a general green living forum, but declined.

The main reason: The hardcore green crowd often doesn’t personally financially support businesses.

Some of them hate capitalism; others think if you’ve got a product that benefits the environment you should give it away (or stick a government entity with the bill). Regardless of the reasoning, it often seems like that crowd is more likely to jury-rig their own energy-saving devices than buy from a business. (Please don’t electrocute yourself installing your own tin foil solar panels.)

Granted, I don’t expect the everyday citizens to buy an oil and gas well improvement tool or an industrial biofilm removal tool from us, but for residential hot water savings, Average Joes can bring green benefits into their home with one SpiroFlo device installed at the outset of the hot water tank. Getting a better, eco-friendly shower faster, all while improving your morning routine (by not waiting so long for hot water at the shower) seems like a no-brainer, but Average Joe water saving benefits don’t necessarily apply to fringe green groups.

Note: Saying “fringe group” conjures up images of terrorism. I’m not suggesting fringe green groups are attacking people with organic fruit and solar-powered weaponry, rather just acknowledging that they are, in fact, way in the minority.

http://www.wayfaring.info/2009/03/20/ivrea-carnival/

They even have fruit fighter outfits!

Additionally, often times, unconventional people have unconventional homes. From the tiny house trend to the build-your-own-humanure-toilet crowd, sometimes the upheave-your-life green fringe crowd doesn’t even have the type of living space that could benefit from minor green savings. If they’ve already made a major shift to green living, a cost-effective, easy green device like SpiroFlo is in a different league. I mean, why own a shower when you bathe in the previously wasted fountain water at the park?

I kid, but I can tell you this much: a good chunk of the people who are actively involved in general green living forums—as in, the kinds of people who would see our advertisement there—are likelier to fall into the above categories, making the marketing dollars wasted dollars. Perhaps if the green forums were more specific to residential water savings, the ad would pay back its cost, but at this stage, there’s still a difference between marketing to a niche than an inaccessible fringe.

The key is to find people who are just green enough—with enough green awareness to care about environmental impact/resource savings (along with a better shower), but not so much that they’re beyond the benefits of the everyman water-saving SpiroFlo device—but guess what? Average people don’t hang out all in one universal area.

Whether it’s a small fringe group or the white noise of a large, carry-all home supply chain store, sometimes it’s hard to know where to speak your marketing voice let alone what to say with it. Regardless, good, simple green products need to get out there somehow.

Time for Occupy Home Depot?

***

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) 

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So you tell me, is Texas in a drought?

*Ag = agriculture

Considering one SpiroFlo device saves a household thousands of gallons of water a year and a lot more states are looking like Texas, those savings are looking pretty good right about now.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) 

Read Full Post »

SpiroFlo explores why it’s always 4 out of 5 experts who agree on anything and how that magical number often winds up being true, even when you wish it wasn’t.

Oh, 4 out of 5 experts, you can’t recommend every product, can you? Let’s look at some of the ways marketing sometimes skews that number:

1. The Statement is Dishonest

Oh, fifth dentist, have you no heart?

Take a marketing statement that’s been explored a little: 4 out of 5 dentists recommend sugar-free gum.

Turns out there was actually the added caveat of, If your patients insist on chewing gum, which type of gum would you recommend? That’s not the same as recommending the product with no strings attached. Now regardless of whether this fifth dentist is the kind of candy Scrooge who hands out toothbrushes on Halloween and dental floss at Christmas, even when they phrased the question in a way that was likely to win over sugar-laden gum, this fifth dentist still wouldn’t recommend their sugar-free product. Which brings us to our next point:

2. Someone Always Agrees / Disagrees With You

I’ve heard it said that when it comes to dealing with large groups, barring an extreme option, 20% of people will always support you. Likewise, 20% of people will go against anything, too, so you’re really only trying to sway 60% of the room. Here’s where my amazing math skills come into play: That 1 out of 5 who disagrees — yup, there’s your 20% right there.

3. They Literally Asked Five Experts

The old infomercial statement was “9 out of 10 doctors agree…” but apparently that number became too risky.

Things is, whether it’s 4 out of 5 or 9 out of 10 experts, you would hope they asked hundreds or thousands of experts (enough to get a meaningful consensus) so that the statistic actually equates to an 80-90% approval rating, but those numbers are really difficult to attain, so much so, that 70% is an overwhelming majority. I mean, you tell me: When was the last time 70% of congress agreed on anything?  As a result, sometimes marketing groups use less data points to imply a much stronger statement.

4. Nobody Believes 100% of People Like Your Product

Even with the above points, I think this one is a gimme: You can’t please everyone all the time, so in a sense, people inherently know that a 100% approval rating is bogus. With 4 out of 5 though, there may be a myriad of reasons for those rare detractors (or one detractor if you went with a mere five experts).

I feel bad for the poor guy bestowed with the rare grace of 100% of people enjoying his product, because he probably has to adjust his statistics for the worse to be believable. Additionally, even if it’s not based on opinion — it’s just something that works or does not work — nothing can work all the time in all situations. Which brings us to our final point:

5. Sometimes It’s Actually Just What It Is

SpiroFlo received a grant from the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office to test its water saving device in homes around the Denver Metro Area. After getting 100 SpiroFlo devices for installation — man, we should’ve gone with five: would’ve been quicker, cheaper and easier — and spending seven months on the project, we got our results. Although every home received up to a 5% water volume savings on every hot water outlet, 78% received hot water an average of 35% faster at their shower. One install received hot water 67% faster with SpiroFlo, but it was an anomaly and thrown out as a data point.

Of course, 78% isn’t a pretty number, even if it’s statistically impressive. 78% is good enough for an average grade in school and maybe it’s that marketing groups have hiked up expectations or that people expect too much (see any star rating system where anything less than 100% is often considered majorly flawed), but yup, now SpiroFlo gets to say it, too: 4 out of 5 households will receive a faster, more efficient shower from the SpiroFlo device. Who cares if every housing unit in the U.S. had a SpiroFlo device, the total amount of water conserved in a year would be over 500 billion gallons (and that’s before the electrical savings from not heating as much water)?

I hate marketing sometimes.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with a 3.5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) 

Read Full Post »

SpiroFlo looks at some of the marketing strategies in business, how they’ve expanded to green technologies, and when a selling point crosses the line to become an outright lie. With the savings listed on the energy-efficient shower head provided by Xcel Energy, it appears they’ve crossed that line.

When my daughter was in sixth grade, the local energy company, Xcel, handed out a LivingWise kit — basically a box full of energy-efficient devices, including an air filter alarm, a high-efficiency light bulb and a high-efficiency shower head. While I have zero qualms with free stuff — even free stuff with an agenda (side note: anyone with a “free nachos” agenda is welcome to contact me at any time) — I do take issue with blatantly false data; so when I saw the weekly water savings listed on the shower head, I was immediately irritated.

LivingWise kit: Free at school or $5 on Ebay

Most people have seen the diet pill commercial where the girl in the bikini brags about losing dozens of pounds while standing side-by-side with a black-and-white photo of her much larger self from six months back. There’s a chance her frail frame is holding out her old, giant pants, but one thing’s for sure: Most people know those results aren’t typical, and sure enough, when your eyeballs squint at all the tiny words along the bottom of the TV screen, you usually find that the average weight loss on the fad diet pill (which will likely wind up banned by the FDA) is less than 15 pounds — weight that is likely to return.

Thing is, even if you assume these numbers are bogus, you can usually find out the truth (often that the advertised success story is an anomaly and not the norm). With many green technologies, however, I find that the truthful fine print is never available and some of the savings don’t add up. For anyone with even modest experience in household water savings, one glance will tell you that any showerhead claiming to save 770 gallons of water a week is bogus, but that’s what the flyer for the LivingWise shower head from Oxgenics and Xcel Energy claims. I was curious about exactly how false the numbers were.

With any data, you have to decide which averages you’re going to use — since different researchers have been known to find different data — and then make certain assumptions. With this in mind, I am using the EPA‘s average numbers for shower use, assuming that each person (out of an average 2.4 person home) is taking one shower a day. I am also assuming that the Xcel/Oxygenics shower head is in compliance with the 1.5 gallons per minute low-flow standard. Finally, given that the apocalypse has not yet happened, I am assuming there are still seven days in a week. Risky territory, I know, but now you know the foundation I’m working with. So, here we go:

2.4 showers a day times 8 minutes per shower times 7 days in week with a standard 2.5 gallon per minute shower head only uses 336 gallons in a week total. There aren’t even 770 gallons a week to save.

In order to save 770 gallons a week, still using the other averages, you’d have to save 5.73 gallons per minute off every shower. This means that in order for the Xcel/Oxygenics 1.5 gallons/minute high-efficiency shower head to save that huge amount of water, what they consider an average-flow shower head has to be above 7.2 gallons/minute. Problem is, the max flow shower head you can get since 1992 is a 2.5 gallon/minute shower head and the EPA estimates that 10% of the remaining big ol’ shower heads are getting replaced every year. So unless you’re using those giant, frying pan shower heads from a 1970s swinger pad as your average, you are lying.

Lots of water to distract you from the alien invasion

The part that grates me the most is that energy companies (who should know better) are endorsing these numbers. Maybe they’re just trying to appear like good stewards of the environment, or maybe it’s that sad green trend of the ends justifying the means, but it’s hard enough to get people to take energy efficiency seriously without adding in misinformation.

If I get updated info, I’ll certainly visit this issue again and correct any assumptions I may have made (I’m watching you, apocalypse). That said, neither Xcel Energy nor Oxygenics returned my phone calls on the matter. I’ll have more in the comments (including a statement from an energy savings insider).

“Free nachos” agenda, I  still await your delicious propaganda.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with a 3.5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) 

Read Full Post »