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

Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:12 pm

klapauzius wrote:
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.
No, Klapauzius, I understand you completely. You, though, are not listening to me. I'll tell you how I know. In the piece about the passive solar house in Alaska, built and owned by one of your countrymen, the solar thermal panels on the facia provide both hot water and space heat nearly year round in central Alaska. An area with temperatures much colder than Germany and with less solar insolation than Seattle. They provide the rest of the heat - water and space heating - with a single cord of wood.

Efficiency - especially ultra efficiency - is less expensive than conventional building - both during construction or retrofit -- and it's SIGNIFICANTLY less expensive every month. This has been proven by the PassivHaus process and the folks at the Rocky Mountain Institute separately.

We don't have time for feet-dragging or FUD - that time is gone.

Thankfully there are enough of us younger folks on the planet to clean up after our elders. I'll guarantee that we won't be thinking soft, fuzzy thoughts about them while we're fixing this place, however...
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klapauzius
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Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow - Let's Fix This!

Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:30 pm

AndyH wrote: Efficiency - especially ultra efficiency - is less expensive than conventional building - both during construction or retrofit -- and it's SIGNIFICANTLY less expensive every month. This has been proven by the PassivHaus process and the folks at the Rocky Mountain Institute separately.
This highly depends on where your house is located. In colder climates, where you have heating bills that run int he thousands, definitely. If you can spend e.g. $5k to keep you warm every winter, a $12k investment to reduce your heating costs by maybe 20-30% seems very reasonable. In warmer climates, these kinds of investments make less sense, but then others do. I suspect going solar (PV and or thermal) in the southwest is probably now financially a no-brainer even in the absence of incentives and net metering?


I know that retrofitting a reasonably modern house in the PNW is mostly a waste of money, the climate is too mild here. Just lowering my thermostat by 1 deg (centigrade) will achieve the same as $20k retrofit.

The bottom line is, yes all these things are good, but simply changing lifestyle (which costs no money, just force of will) will go a long way.
The proof can be seen here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_co ... per_capita" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

It is mostly lifestyle and cost of energy (but yes also some infrastructure investments in better construction):

Energy per capita (GJ/a)

Germany 5329.9
United states 9538.8

Same quality of life, but almost half the consumption.
Imagine the US would cut their consumption per capita in half and get down to German levels! That would make a serious dent in CO2 emissions.
And everyone would still be cozy and warm in winter, can take warm showers, watch TV, run electronic gizmos, etc. Nobody would have to move back to a cave.

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

Mon Feb 24, 2014 2:05 pm

Klap - you are fantastic at filling a post with words yet you're still missing the point and thinking too small.

A passive house uses only 15% of the total energy used by a similarly sized house built to US code standards.

That's an 85% savings.

And I've already shown you that the efficiency is the same whether the building is in Fairbanks, Ohio, or Austin - yes, techniques differ to tailor the building to the climate - but the efficiency remains.

A full passive house retrofit performed in Austin, TX was done for $93/ft sq -- less than it costs the same builder to build a 'normal' building.
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klapauzius
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Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow - Let's Fix This!

Mon Feb 24, 2014 2:57 pm

AndyH wrote:Klap - you are fantastic at filling a post with words yet you're still missing the point and thinking too small.

A passive house uses only 15% of the total energy used by a similarly sized house built to US code standards.

That's an 85% savings.

And I've already shown you that the efficiency is the same whether the building is in Fairbanks, Ohio, or Austin - yes, techniques differ to tailor the building to the climate - but the efficiency remains.

A full passive house retrofit performed in Austin, TX was done for $93/ft sq -- less than it costs the same builder to build a 'normal' building.
$93/sq ft??? Did you really write "retrofit"? Or are you talking about new construction? Is there a decimal missing somewhere?
Or is it $93 /sqft vs. say $70/sqft for "normal" construction?

If I take what you write at face value and I did a retrofit of my house to the tune of $93/sqft, it would be just 193(!) years in 2014 dollars to recover the investment.

How much do you think people typically spend on energy in their houses to justify such costs?

Did you retrofit your house? What did it cost? What are your annual energy costs now and what were they before?

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

Mon Feb 24, 2014 5:53 pm

Sorry - context is useful.

The $93/sq ft is the builder's target for new construction. That's less than the $100/sq ft number for the Austin, TX area. The specific house was, however, a full 'gut and rebuild' retrofit and was an experiment in meeting Passive House goals with the lowest tech and most environmentally friendly products available.

http://www.passivehouse.us/phc2011/2011 ... %20PPT.pdf

To understand the significance of the savings a Passive House offers in S Texas, here are some numbers. I'm renting a 1600 sq foot all electric house built in 2004. Three bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, two story. Standard 2x4 'stick' construction with a brick veneer on the front. The upstairs '2nd bedroom' is unusable from spring through late November as the central AC cannot keep it cool enough without super-cooling the rest of the house - it's the 'box room'. The air conditioning season runs from early March through November. I keep the temperature around 78. In 2013 I paid $1946 for electricity -the high month was $255.

If this was built to PassivHaus specs, it would cost about $300/year for electricity, temperatures throughout the house would be within 2 degrees room to room rather than the current ~7 degree shift (12 for the SW bedroom), all the rooms would be usable year round, and the much smaller furnace/AC system would cost less than 1/2 and wouldn't spike to ~12KW on startup.

Switch gears to central Alaska. Same passive house goals, different amounts of insulation and different temperature control needs. All of the house's heating and hot water is provided by solar thermal panels and 1 cord of firewood. This was also built for about the same price per square foot as standard code-compliant construction in the area.

Habitat for Humanity building to Passive House standards
http://www.planetforward.org/idea/habit ... le-housing
Low income families often use 40% of their income on energy costs, according to Tom DiGiovanni, head of the Passive House Alliance in Washington, D.C. Cutting this cost can be a crucial step that helps more people own homes, as well as stay in those homes once they move in.
...The hype about passive houses is that they don't need a furnace...they are tremendously comfortable...there's no temperature stratification...there are no drafts...

Same for the Earthships built in Taos, E Texas, upstate NY, Lasqueti Island, BC, Ontario, France, and Patagonia - off grid, solar heating and cooling, electricity from PV, backup on-demand hot water and cooling gas costs about $100 per year - that's the only utility payment. These are also built for square foot prices similar to standard construction in their areas.
Last edited by AndyH on Mon Feb 24, 2014 9:04 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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mbender
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Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow - Let's Fix This!

Mon Feb 24, 2014 7:31 pm

Random and brief contribution to this conversation:
  • On the policy level, I think utility decoupling can go a long way in the effort to conserve energy (via "aligning incentives").
    Here is a good if a bit dated/2007 EPA pdf which goes into more detail. Also note here how CA and NY are well below the national average in energy consumption per capita (partly due to decouping, party use of mass transit).
  • And on the personal level, giving up or reducing one's consumption of (red) meat can also go a long way. But of course, that can only be arrived at on one's own!
Haven't seen much discussion of either of these "Out of the Box" ideas (as requested in the original post), so thought I'd throw them out there.
I think I just felt my paradigm shift.

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

Mon Feb 24, 2014 9:52 pm

AndyH wrote:Sorry - context is useful.
The $93/sq ft is the builder's target for new construction. That's less than the $100/sq ft number for the Austin, TX area. The specific house was, however, a full 'gut and rebuild' retrofit and was an experiment in meeting Passive House goals with the lowest tech and most environmentally friendly products available.
Ok, so in effect these costs are for new construction and of course it makes sense for new construction to do this, but don't forget all the existing homes that are not going through this process of radical renovation soon.
To understand the significance of the savings a Passive House offers in S Texas, here are some numbers. I'm renting a 1600 sq foot all electric house built in 2004. Three bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, two story. Standard 2x4 'stick' construction with a brick veneer on the front. The upstairs '2nd bedroom' is unusable from spring through late November as the central AC cannot keep it cool enough without super-cooling the rest of the house - it's the 'box room'. The air conditioning season runs from early March through November. I keep the temperature around 78. In 2013 I paid $1946 for electricity -the high month was $255.

If this was built to PassivHaus specs, it would cost about $300/year for electricity, temperatures throughout the house would be within 2 degrees room to room rather than the current ~7 degree shift (12 for the SW bedroom), all the rooms would be usable year round, and the much smaller furnace/AC system would cost less than 1/2 and wouldn't spike to ~12KW on startup.
This is a good example. Lets assume rebuilding the house to passiv-haus standards would cost $148,800. Annual savings $1646. Nominal ROI = 90.4 years.
Lets assume you had the money and invest it at a 5% annual return, or you invest in the retrofit and invest the savings with a 5% return and we assume that energy prices go up 3% annually. You would never catch up with your initial investment, since 5% on $148k will pay your energy and some.

Since you rent, now imagine you have to convince your landlord to make these changes...?
Presumably, in Texas, PV would go a long way, and incidentally, the production is greatest, when you need the most electricity?
I can imagine that would give more bang for the buck than $93/sqft retrofits?

My personal life-style change was to leave the places that need AC during the summer. But of course that is not an option for everyone.

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

Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:14 am

klapauzius wrote: This is a good example. Lets assume rebuilding the house to passiv-haus standards would cost $148,800. Annual savings $1646. Nominal ROI = 90.4 years.
Lets assume you had the money and invest it at a 5% annual return, or you invest in the retrofit and invest the savings with a 5% return and we assume that energy prices go up 3% annually. You would never catch up with your initial investment, since 5% on $148k will pay your energy and some.

Since you rent, now imagine you have to convince your landlord to make these changes...?
Presumably, in Texas, PV would go a long way, and incidentally, the production is greatest, when you need the most electricity?
I can imagine that would give more bang for the buck than $93/sqft retrofits?

My personal life-style change was to leave the places that need AC during the summer. But of course that is not an option for everyone.
I appreciate your thoughts here - they're valid and are absolutely one way to look at the problem. In a 1950s world where we can expect electricity prices to fall or stay level, and where one can easily find a trustworthy investment at 5%, then I would agree with you. Today is not that time, however. In addition, your numbers do not reflect a full accounting of either the prices or costs of either housing or the energy they consume. Including even some of those changes the picture dramatically.

Your move to a place that doesn't need AC in the summer (or much heating in winter) is nice - but you're right - that's not an option for everyone. I built an efficient retirement house in Srn Illinois with solar-ready house/garage roofs and plumbing pre-installed for solar thermal collectors. Instead of retiring, however, the USAF decided I needed to finish my career in San Antonio instead of Illinois - and I couldn't afford to maintain the house until I was able to return. Someone has to live in Iowa and Minnesota so you can have corn and wheat, after all - and many of the folks there are burning heating oil during their long winters. Yet it still misses the point of efficiency - you still use plenty of energy to operate your house - cutting 85-90% off those loads is still significant to you and to society.

The Germans are finding that it does pay back to build new and to retrofit to passivhaus standards - the reduction in energy needs reduces the cost and size of all HVAC equipment, reduces the demand on utilities, reduces the need for new power plant construction, and reduces the price of adding PV/thermal to not only drop to net-zero but to be net-positive - which fits the overarching goals of both the Energiewende and the Third Industrial Revolution - buildings as power plants.

The number one complaint about installing solar - whether PV or thermal - is that 'it would cost too much to give me the energy I use and therefore it won't work'. Cutting the energy demand of buildings completely eliminates that problem.
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AndyH
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Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow - Let's Fix This!

Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:35 am

More Battery Storage! Will Tesla's giga-factory do for battery prices what Germany's projects did for PV prices?

http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1090 ... ga-factory
http://green.autoblog.com/2014/02/21/su ... es-nevada/
The Gigafactory will take in the raw materials for lithium batteriesand put out finished packs, not only for the electric vehicles made by Tesla and its automotive customers, but also for massive amounts of renewable energy storage – that’s a niche the company plans to begin to occupy sometime early next year with residential-sized products. The production volume is expected to be at least 30 gigawatt-hours-worth per year. That’s more storage than all the lithium battery factories in the world combined produce now. Color us impressed.
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klapauzius
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Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow - Let's Fix This!

Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:48 am

AndyH wrote: In a 1950s world where we can expect electricity prices to fall or stay level, and where one can easily find a trustworthy investment at 5%, then I would agree with you. Today is not that time, however. In addition, your numbers do not reflect a full accounting of either the prices or costs of either housing or the energy they consume. Including even some of those changes the picture dramatically.

The Germans are finding that it does pay back to build new and to retrofit to passivhaus standards - the reduction in energy needs reduces the cost and size of all HVAC equipment, reduces the demand on utilities, reduces the need for new power plant construction, and reduces the price of adding PV/thermal to not only drop to net-zero but to be net-positive - which fits the overarching goals of both the Energiewende and the Third Industrial Revolution - buildings as power plants.

The number one complaint about installing solar - whether PV or thermal - is that 'it would cost too much to give me the energy I use and therefore it won't work'. Cutting the energy demand of buildings completely eliminates that problem.
Surprisingly , 5%, even in today's environment, still is a rather conservative estimate for the stock market, no need to go back to fancy hats and ugly furniture. And in my calculation I assumed rising energy costs of 3%. Of course, if we run out of easily accessible carbohydrates, that number can go up dramatically.

You are right, and that is a point that needs to be hammered into peoples minds more urgently: Current energy prices do not reflect the full cost, they are artificially low and thus encourage wastefulness.
Imagine how good a LEAF would look at $8/gallon for gas!!!!!



Yes, the study on better insulation found that this will save Germany 30-50 billion in the next 30 years or so. Not much, but it is a net-positive investment.
But keep in mind, the average German uses half (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) the energy the average American uses.

And that is not because of more efficient insulation, but because of LESS wastefulness. Of course Germans are not better people than Americans, when it comes to the environment.
But energy prices are much higher in Germany, which forces people to be more conservative.

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