John Mott-Smith Credit: Davis Enterprise

This column, by John Mott-Smith, a member of Cool Davis is cross-posted from the Davis Enterprise. Today’s column is filled with lots of little things culled from the news and various other sources.

GUESS WHO SAID THAT: See if you can identify the author of the following quote (answer at bottom). “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait til oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left.”
HAVING YOUR CAKE AND EATING IT, TOO: I always took the term “cogeneration” (aka “combined heat and power” ) to describe a system in which the waste heat given off as a by-product of electricity generation is captured and used for heating purposes, but I never associated it with photovoltaic systems. A recent article about a company called, coincidentally, Cogenra changed that.

Cogenra captures the wasted heat from its photovoltaic system and uses it to heat water to high temperatures for large water users such as a hospital. The CEO is an Israeli and credits his background there as inspiration: “Everyone has a solar hot water heater. There’s no natural gas delivered to homes.”

A REAL BELL-RINGER: A reader wrote recently in response to a column about bikes asking why the bicycle culture in Davis does not include a basic safety device: the bell. According to the writer, in many countries a bell is a mandatory safety measure.

A faint childhood memory of a bike bill stimulated me to purchase one. I tried it out on a greenbelt and it really worked: Rather than being startled by a passing bike, pedestrians moved easily to the right. In more than one instance the pedestrian said “thank you for the bell” as I passed by.

I talked to my friends at Davis Bicycles! (yes, the exclamation mark is a part of the name) and they indicate anyone wanting a bell for their bike can bring their bike to their booth at the Farmers Market on Saturday and get one free, or pay a small sum to get an upgraded model.

Be forewarned: They do not give bells away to take home; they insist on installing it right then and there. I have to admit that provides certainty of its installation and makes sure the placement makes it as easy as possible to ring the bell.

SMART THINKING: Another reader sent a page from the London Evening Standard with an advertisement for the new four-door Toyota IQ (apparently a “smarter” car). The car gets nearly 65 miles per gallon (55 in town and 71 on the freeway) in Europe but only 36 mpg in the United States.

THINKING ABOUT BUYING A PLUG-IN ELECTRIC VEHICLE (PEV)? This type of car could be the wave of the future. It operates on electricity for short distances, but kicks in with a gas engine so you can, for example, drive to Los Angeles if you want. It eliminates “range anxiety.”

Most people drive relatively short distances on a day-to-day basis and so would need the gas engine only infrequently, potentially resulting in gas mileage of more than 100 mpg. The California Air Resources Board recently established a PEV Resource Center that includes a buyer’s guide for PEVs.

The website ( includes information that would be of interest to potential buyers on how to compare different models, what rebates and tax credits are available and how to charge the vehicle.

ON THE HOUSE: A good time to consider rooftop solar is when the roof is ready for replacement. An estimated 10 million tons of old roofing shingles are torn off roofs every year in the United States.

Recycling of asphalt shingles is not common — mostly they are disposed of as waste, but consider this information from an article in the Wall Street Journal: Asphalt shingles make up more than two-thirds of roofing projects. Recycling shingles from one roof is about the same in terms of volume as a year’s worth of recycling of household waste and recycling shingles from one average roof can provide material for nearly 200 feet of a two-lane highway.

Unfortunately, the Yolo County Landfill does not accept asphalt shingles for recycling. However, the Florin Perkins public disposal site — (916) 443-5120; — is specifically set up to recycle construction and demolition materials, including asphalt roof tiles.

If you’re planning to re-roof, consider providing this information to your roofing contractor. There is a $10 fee per cubic yard.

SPEAKING OF THE YOLO COUNTY LANDFILL: For those who change the oil in their cars, on Saturday,  the landfill is partnering with O’Reilly’s (formerly Kragen’s) in Davis — 1681 Research Park Drive; (530) 753-6755) — and Auto Zone in Woodland — 90 W. Main St.; (530) 406-1871 — to give away a free oil filter to anyone who brings in their old, oily, yucky one.

Estimates are that 90 percent of oil filters are not recycled but if they were, one ton of filters would yield 60 gallons of motor oil.

Answer: Thomas A. Edison