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Solar Decathalon Kicked Off the National Mall, Will Be Watched Over By MLK and FDR

Check out the cool solar-powered designs that'll grace DC's National Parks this September.

For the past decade, the Solar Decathalon, organized by the U.S. Department of Energy, has proven a great breeding ground for innovative solar-powered housing designs. By the DOE's description, the Decathalon "challenges 20 collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive."

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ARPA-E: How the Government Agency With a Name Out of Lost Could "Win the Future" and Save Humanity [Updated]

Get to know the new agency that swinging for the clean energy fences.


[Updated] If you haven't heard of ARPA-E yet, it's high time you get to know it. The acronym breaks down as the Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy. It's sort of a descendant of the old wildly successful DARPA program that famously birthed the internet, amongst many other pretty phenomenal technological breakthroughs.

The basic premise of ARPA-E, launched under the Department of Energy in 2009, is in investing in high risk, high reward energy tech research. The so-called "breakthrough" technologies that no private investor of sound mind would ever touch, but which could prove world changing solutions to our energy and climate woes. All home runs here, no base hits.

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"MPG" for Your House: The DOE's New Home Energy Score

You know how much energy your car uses. Now you'll finally have similar information about your house. Knowing is half the battle.

The Department of Energy has announced an important new tool—an energy "scoring" program, if you will—that will help reduce our dependence on oil and will help American families save bundles heating and powering their homes. It's called Home Energy Score, and the best way of describing it is that it's like MPGs for your home, as the DOE blog explains:

The Home Energy Score is like a miles per gallon rating—but for your home. It summarizes a home’s energy performance on a simple 10-point scale—with a 10 for the top performers, or those that keep the home comfortable with the least amount of energy. The score also comes with a report that recommends customized home energy upgrades and estimates the savings possible from those improvements. Over the next several months, cities like Omaha, Nebraska and Minneapolis, Minnesota will run pilot tests of the Home Energy Score, helping participating homeowners save money by cutting energy costs. After the pilots wrap up, we will refine the program before it rolls out across the nation later in 2011. Then, in one simple, short visit from a qualified specialist, you'll be able to get custom advice on how you can cut your energy bills—in many cases by hundreds of dollars each year.

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