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Tuesday, December 25

Grey water, hot water, and the electric car battery deal

Although I was born and baptized a Christian I left the Church a long time ago. However, for decades I continued to celebrate Christmas, and I learned in India that the spirit of Christmas transcends religion. Yet in recent years I'd become quite a Scrooge, feeling like a stranger in a strange land around Christmas time.

John Batchelor's joyful Christmas show this Sunday for KFI radio gave wonderful gifts to his audience: discussions with the authors of A Bull in China: Investing Profitably in the World's Greatest Market; Happiness and the Human Spirit: the Spirituality of Becoming the Best You Can Be; and How to Change the World.

I thought sourly that even the segment on the dangers of asteroids and a discussion of the US presidential primary race didn't dampen John's celebration of hope for the future and affirmation of America as a beacon of liberty.

And I noted that even his discussion about Pakistan's politics with Najam Sethi, editor of Pakistan's Daily Times, ended on a hopeful note. Najam recounted that Pakistan's lawyers were joining with the country's feminist and other human rights activist groups to form the core of a revolution in the making, one that transcends tribal and religious affiliations.

Bah. Humbug. Pakistan would never change.

Then today came a knocking at my door. It was a Muslim friend bringing a Christmas present. After feeling the outline beneath the wrapping paper I figured it was a box of chocolates. When I opened the present I squealed with surprise and delight; it was a book I'd been wanting to read more than any other.

Later, knock knock. Some Jewish friends dropped by; they'd chipped in on a Christmas present. When I tore off the wrapping I found that the gift was a much-needed item.

Okay okay, I get it. Here is your present. Merry Christmas to one and all!

Very smart products, and a way to get smart product ideas around faster:

From Products We Wish Were in America:
[...] Sometimes, necessity makes for the most innovative products. In Australia, water is in short supply in many parts of the country, the result of a devastating drought. These days, Australia has become a country of water misers, with water-saving products to match. Gardeners who wish to water their plants can buy a new invention called the Water-Leech, which reuses so-called “grey water,” that is, water run-off from the bath or shower. A hose attachment hooks up to the shower or sink drain, then a pump in the relatively compact unit draws the water into a self-contained storage tank. Once the tank is full, it’s easy to wheel the unit outside to water your lawn or garden. The company says the unit can help the average household conserve 35,000 liters annually.

Another great water-saving product coming out of Australia is the instant, compact, continuous-flow hot water heater, which is slowly gaining in popularity in [America]. Rather than heating a large amount of water the way most hot water heaters in the U.S. do -- and keeping it heated -- this product instantly heats the water on demand and in a much more efficient way. Once it is activated, it delivers a constant supply of hot water. Since heating water accounts for over 20 percent of home energy use in this country, this energy-saving product could save homeowners money while also being more environmentally friendly. Also, the hardware on these systems usually lasts twice as long as that on regular tank systems. Some experts estimate that the average family can save between 30 and 50 percent of the cost of heating water each year with tankless systems.

Of course, cars are one of the biggest energy guzzlers. And driving electric cars is a great way to save on fuel. Norway has figured out a way to let consumers buy these autos at affordable prices by allowing them to lease the battery on the car. In the next few months, the two-seat, electric-powered Think City car will become available in Norway for somewhere between $15,000 to $17,000. Since the battery is the costliest part of the car (about $34,000), the company plans to allow consumers to lease it for about $100 to $200 a month, which will include other services such as insurance and mobile internet access. The web service will allow the company to remotely monitor the battery’s life, and contact owners when the battery needs to be replaced. [...]

Despite the globalization of commerce, there are still many innovative products that aren’t available in this country. That’s where web sites like Springwise come in. The company scans the globe for the most promising ideas and concepts ready for regional or international adaptation or expansion. Springwise has more than 8,000 “Springspotters” in over 70 countries who search the globe for new concepts.

“We regularly hear from readers who are interested in bringing a product or service to their own country, after reading about it on Springwise,” says Liesbeth den Toom, senior editor for the web site.

“Springwise is very much a child of globalization. By gathering ideas from a wide variety of countries and presenting them to readers based in over 120 countries, we believe we are helping to spread smart ideas faster.”

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