AndyH
Posts: 6388
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:43 pm
Location: San Antonio

Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow - Let's Fix This!

Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:52 am

klapauzius wrote:Yes, for heating/warm water which is by far the biggest portion of our energy consumption, we are at about 80 kWh per sq m per year.
And that is with basically a 20 year old gas furnace and a tankless heater.

The dilemma is this:
New windows and a hybrid heatpump/gas heating system would probably cut the energy use down by 50%, to the tune of (hold your breath) ~400$ savings annually.
The cost to implement these savings is ~ $ 20000-25000.

The good new is:
Without spending a lot of money you can get upretty efficient already.

I suspect in colder parts of the US the cost/benefit ratio will much better, especially when you factor in incentives as well.
I've lived in both cold and now hot parts of this country and can confirm that it's expensive to operate a typical American home in either location. In the north it's heating oil, gas, and electricity; while here in the south is electricity for cooling. Insulation, better windows, proper shading, air tightness, and controlling thermal bridging are just as important in either location.

Wrapping the house in a layer of insulation and closing the leaks will reduce the cost of either a heating or AC upgrade. A solar thermal collector is the least expensive and most efficient type of solar to implement - it should be done before a single PV panel is installed. Efficiency first kills the "cost to implement these savings" problems. We know this to be the case in Alaska, Austin, and the midwest. ;)

Alaska:
http://www.reina-llc.com/

Austin:
http://www.greenenergy-money.com/case_s ... ive_house/
- High Air Quality-Ventilation Systems
- High-Performance Building Insulation-Envelope
- 1.5 ton HVAC System (50% smaller than conventional system)
Energy Savings $1,307
"The stupid become extinct."-Bill Mollison
2018 Outlander PHEV
2015 smart Electric Drive (lease ended Feb, 2018)
OpenEVSE Plus DIY

User avatar
dgpcolorado
Posts: 3115
Joined: Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:56 pm
Delivery Date: 15 Dec 2011
Location: The Western Slope, Colorado

Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow - Let's Fix This!

Sun Feb 23, 2014 12:35 pm

You can find out how you rank in household energy use for a given climate zone and household size by using the Energy Star Home Energy Yardstick.

Before I got my solar panels I was at 9.9 (99th percentile). After solar panels, with zero net electricity usage, I am still at 9.9. To get a ten I'd have to heat with wood or something like that, but I chose not to put in any wood burning fixture in my house because the main air pollution problem in the mountains is wood smoke and I didn't want to contribute. However, my natural gas usage isn't all that high: 383 Therms over the past 12 months. For a house in the snowbelt that is relatively low. In part that is due to keeping the thermostat set low and dressing warmly and in part it is getting free heat from the sun on sunny days because I designed my house with a lot of south facing windows ("sun tempered", according to the NREL design seminar I attended).

One thing I would like is some sort of ventilation system that captures heat because my house is buttoned up tight for eight months of the year here (and we have radon in this area). Several decades ago there used to be used to be jury-rigged devices that would do that, but I don't know if such things ever became commercially available.
Blue 2012 SV Dec 2011 to Feb 2016
CPO 2014 Tesla S60 Mar 2016
One car, no ICE, at last!
Tesla Referral Code

klapauzius
Posts: 1658
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:19 pm
Delivery Date: 25 Jan 2011
Leaf Number: 0197
Location: Seattle, Wa

Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow - Let's Fix This!

Sun Feb 23, 2014 12:38 pm

AndyH wrote:. A solar thermal collector is the least expensive and most efficient type of solar to implement - it should be done before a single PV panel is installed.
Another example where there might be extreme regional differences...I looked long and hard into this before deciding that a tankless gas warm water heater gives the best cost/efficiency ratio.

Installation of a thermal collector for warm water is still so outrageously expensive here AND it is not subsidized in the same way PV generation is. You need very deep pockets AND a lot of idealism to go for something like this.

I wonder if prices for thermal collectors have dropped in the same way for panels though?

Anyways, the big problem in practical conservation lies mostly in convincing people to do efficient life style changes.

All the solar energy that my expensive solar panels produce is wasted by our neighbors, who leave about +500 Watts of incandescent lighting burning day and night ( which comes to 4380 kWh annually, about 300- 400 kWH more than my panels produce).

To imagine that a simple conscious flip of a finger (or a $500 investment into LED lighting), can achieve the same a 4 kW PV system.....

I am sure this applies to the majority of people, so the expensive technical solutions are really just for the endgame, if you can instill in people a sense of how much they are wasting.

The best way of course would be to increase energy prices 10 fold across the board (gasoline, natural, gas, electricity, everything). But that is about as realistic as getting panels on every roof.

klapauzius
Posts: 1658
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:19 pm
Delivery Date: 25 Jan 2011
Leaf Number: 0197
Location: Seattle, Wa

Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow - Let's Fix This!

Sun Feb 23, 2014 12:49 pm

dgpcolorado wrote:You can find out how you rank in household energy use for a given climate zone and household size by using the Energy Star Home Energy Yardstick.

Before I got my solar panels I was at 9.9 (99th percentile). After solar panels, with zero net electricity usage, I am still at 9.9. To get a ten I'd have to heat with wood or something like that, but I chose not to put in any wood burning fixture in my house because the main air pollution problem in the mountains is wood smoke and I didn't want to contribute. However, my natural gas usage isn't all that high: 383 Therms over the past 12 months. For a house in the snowbelt that is relatively low. In part that is due to keeping the thermostat set low and dressing warmly and in part it is getting free heat from the sun on sunny days because I designed my house with a lot of south facing windows ("sun tempered", according to the NREL design seminar I attended).

One thing I would like is some sort of ventilation system that captures heat because my house is buttoned up tight for eight months of the year here (and we have radon in this area). Several decades ago there used to be used to be jury-rigged devices that would do that, but I don't know if such things ever became commercially available.
Cool link.

So we got 8.1, and we have little kids, so lots washer/dryer use AND the leaf (and not as much sun, so PV generation here is about 1000 kWh per 1kW installed).

ERG4ALL
Posts: 603
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 11:17 am
Delivery Date: 10 Mar 2011
Leaf Number: 000404
Location: Phoenix/Show Low AZ

Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow - Let's Fix This!

Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:16 pm

FWIW we live in the mtns and installed Fujitsu high pressure heat pumps. We have gotten usable heat with the outside temp at -7 degrees F. On that morning our house got down to 62 degrees but as soon as the sun came up we were back up over 70 degrees. In A/C mode the 12,000 BTU model has a SEER of 25, and the 9,000 BTU model has a SEER of 26. In the heating mode, the two of them together use 2,000 watts.
Reserved 4/20/10, Ocean Blue Ordered SL 9/30/10, ESVE Installed 11/22/10, Delivered March 8th, 2011.

User avatar
dgpcolorado
Posts: 3115
Joined: Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:56 pm
Delivery Date: 15 Dec 2011
Location: The Western Slope, Colorado

Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow - Let's Fix This!

Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:26 pm

klapauzius wrote:Cool link.

So we got 8.1, and we have little kids, so lots washer/dryer use AND the leaf (and not as much sun, so PV generation here is about 1000 kWh per 1kW installed).
By contrast, I have very low hot water usage so my summer natural gas usage is about 2 Therms a month.

My PV is running about 1600 kWh annually per 1 kW installed. In addition to very intense high altitude sun and cool temperatures, I also adjust the pitch of my pole-mounted panels with the seasons: they are currently at 45º (my latitude is about 38º).
Blue 2012 SV Dec 2011 to Feb 2016
CPO 2014 Tesla S60 Mar 2016
One car, no ICE, at last!
Tesla Referral Code

AndyH
Posts: 6388
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:43 pm
Location: San Antonio

Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow - Let's Fix This!

Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:44 pm

klapauzius wrote:
AndyH wrote:. A solar thermal collector is the least expensive and most efficient type of solar to implement - it should be done before a single PV panel is installed.
Another example where there might be extreme regional differences...I looked long and hard into this before deciding that a tankless gas warm water heater gives the best cost/efficiency ratio.

Installation of a thermal collector for warm water is still so outrageously expensive here AND it is not subsidized in the same way PV generation is. You need very deep pockets AND a lot of idealism to go for something like this.
Oh dear God. This, Klap, is EXACTLY the type of out of date thinking I'm trying to reverse here! I'm sorry, man - I'm not attacking you, just the information!

I have a 4'x8' name-brand solar thermal collector in the garage waiting for installation right now - it was $900 delivered from Georgia. The balance of system was another $300. With prices like this, we don't need subsidies! (For perspective, I'm a disabled vet on a fixed income. ;))

Here is a real example of using 'expensive' solar thermal in a harsh environment. This is a net-zero PassivHaus in central Alaska.

Image
The Sunrise Home is the latest design in our quest to develop sustainable shelters for the Arctic incorporating no fossil fuel based heating system, and an annual zero energy requirement. The prerequisite to making zero energy buildings in a 14,000 HDD climate possible is a highly efficient building and very low energy requirements built to stringent Passive House Benchmarks. It requires an optimized passive solar design with additional insulated mass within the thermal envelope and a minimum of 0.6 SHGC on south facing windows equiped with thermal shutters. In addition, it requires an integrated design of all the renewable energy systems molded together with an annual seasonal heat storage tank.
http://www.reina-llc.com/projects/sunrise/pictures/
http://www.reina-llc.com/resources/videos1/

Heat and hot water year round from solar thermal panels - in central Alaska. Yes, the guy in the video is a German living in the snow on purpose. Thankfully for his wallet he brought passivhaus with him. ;)
"The stupid become extinct."-Bill Mollison
2018 Outlander PHEV
2015 smart Electric Drive (lease ended Feb, 2018)
OpenEVSE Plus DIY

klapauzius
Posts: 1658
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:19 pm
Delivery Date: 25 Jan 2011
Leaf Number: 0197
Location: Seattle, Wa

Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow - Let's Fix This!

Sun Feb 23, 2014 7:21 pm

AndyH wrote:
Oh dear God. This, Klap, is EXACTLY the type of out of date thinking I'm trying to reverse here! I'm sorry, man - I'm not attacking you, just the information!

I have a 4'x8' name-brand solar thermal collector in the garage waiting for installation right now - it was $900 delivered from Georgia. The balance of system was another $300. With prices like this, we don't need subsidies! (For perspective, I'm a disabled vet on a fixed income. ;))
Fair enough, but to put this into perspective:

I have been quoted significantly more ( up to $9k) for solar thermal warm water, and that is NOT going to give you warm water year round, you need an auxiliary heater in addition to that.

Also, dont forget that installation costs make up a significant part of the price of any of these systems. In Seattle e.g. we are at a point, where labor cost for PV installation exceeds materials costs for smaller systems ( ~2 kW). And not everyone is DIY capable.

For comparison, my tankless heater costs me about $100 - $120 per year in gas for warm water.
So for the higher end price of solar -thermal hot water, I can get at current natural gas prices 70-90 years of hot water.
At ROIs like this, the installation has to be a nuisance cost.

You cannot reverse the economic reality, but e.g. if my neighbors just turned off their lights when they go to bed, or when the sun rises, they can save the environment the same amount of energy I am with my expensive solar panels.

Once we have gotten educated enough to not be mindlessly wasteful, I hope the technological solutions will have become affordable enough.

AndyH
Posts: 6388
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:43 pm
Location: San Antonio

Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow - Let's Fix This!

Sun Feb 23, 2014 7:35 pm

klapauzius wrote:
Once we have gotten educated enough to not be mindlessly wasteful, I hope the technological solutions will have become affordable enough.
Too many excuses, Klapauzius.

In order for there to be a hundredth monkey effect, we need at least 99 monkeys to go before. It's not a mass ascension.

Do you know what we call people that stand still and wait for everyone else to catch up? Speed bumps.
"The stupid become extinct."-Bill Mollison
2018 Outlander PHEV
2015 smart Electric Drive (lease ended Feb, 2018)
OpenEVSE Plus DIY

klapauzius
Posts: 1658
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:19 pm
Delivery Date: 25 Jan 2011
Leaf Number: 0197
Location: Seattle, Wa

Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow - Let's Fix This!

Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:44 pm

AndyH wrote:
klapauzius wrote:
Once we have gotten educated enough to not be mindlessly wasteful, I hope the technological solutions will have become affordable enough.
Too many excuses, Klapauzius.

In order for there to be a hundredth monkey effect, we need at least 99 monkeys to go before. It's not a mass ascension.

Do you know what we call people that stand still and wait for everyone else to catch up? Speed bumps.
You seem to misunderstand me.
In order to solve the problem, it has to be doable by the 99%.
So you have to have affordable solutions that allow people to change to more efficient ways gradually.

Zero energy houses are great, but have you seriously looked at affordability?

It wont help if the 1% are super efficient, have net zero carbon foot print etc. Unless of course, they move to a space station and live happy lives there isolated from the masses and the polluted planet. Elysium anyone?

I understand that, if you have some of the necessary skills, some pioneer spirit and enough free time on your hands, you can rig up you own PV system, build your own thermal solar hot water etc and save a pretty penny, but for those of us in the city who are working regular jobs, have to adhere to building codes and maybe are afraid to get electrocuted or fall of the roof, it costs substantial money.

Money that most people currently simply do not have to spend, even if they wanted to.

Therefore, we have to start with conservation (which mostly costs nothing, just life style changes).

The best way to encourage this is to increase energy costs, e.g. through taxes, which you can then give back to people to fund solar panels/hot water/wind etc. Worked in Germany, although there is now this silly social backlash ( apparently PV owners are now seen as evil capitalists who burden the common man with ever increasing energy costs, currently around $0.30 /kWH I think, thanks to the EEG (Erneuerbare Energie Gesetz = renewable energy act)).

But the higher prices there make a significance difference in consumption (check your previous post, Germans use much less energy than Americans).

Return to “Business / Economy and Politics”