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December 19, 2008


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Carl Carter

An alternative which wasn't asked for but which I think you should have mentioned is using solar panels for heating water. New, high efficiency, well insulated solar water heaters are cost effective in most of the US and are much cheaper to install than solar electric, plus they are considerably cheaper.

I have investigated both for my location in Oregon, and the water heater is a viable option for me and is on my to do list.

John Reindl

A worthy analysis. What I would also like to see included are the social and environmental costs associated with both the current situation and any alternatives. A number of countries incorporate these costs into the costs of products and services, to internalize the externalities and help the decision making process, a la Pigou. The state of Wisconsin did such an analysis for the statewide recycling program and the numbers were quite large ($285 a ton benefit from recycling).

On a different issue, I was very surprised to see that the average US home uses 11,000 KWH a year. I have a pretty standard 3 bedroom ranch home in southern Wisconsin and use about 2,400 KWH a year. It would be of interest to know why the average US home is over 4 times that level, since I haven't really done that much to reduce electrical use, beyond replacing most incandescents with fluorescents and not using either air conditioning nor dehumidifiers.

John Reindl
John Muir Chapter Member
Madison, WI

Tony R

In NW Ohio, we use nearly 10-11,000 KWH per year (3 small kids, house built 1996, 1800 sq. ft.). This is double our use prior to the children (think lights left on). A/C contributes about 1,000 KWH during the summer.

NW Ohioan

Ron Tisue

I found your response to sherry in Dayton, Ohio about solar collection and wind collection irresponsible. You, of all people should understand that any heat gain, developed from any system, will be lost through poor insulation. Compact Fluorescents are a must- as is upgrading the home envelope.
A critical look at your home's insulation and heat loss should always be the first step in analyzing the potential for energy sustainability.
In the future, I would hope that you would encourage your readers to address the most basic framework of heat loss in their homes, in order to protect that they are getting the most out of their solar panel investment.

Ron Tisue
Solarbank Energy Systems
Cincinnati, Ohio

Edith Borie

a comment on your suggestions for solar power. In addition to
photovoltaic systems to produce electricity, one can use solar
energy to heat hot water and support the home heating system.
The German magazine Oekotest published a study last March, indicating
that one can break even in a bit less than 20 years. The hot water
has to be stored in a well-insulated tank. A system with about
10 square meters (90+sqare feet) and a tank capacity about 200 gallons
can supply a family of four with hot water and about 20 percent of the
heat in most places in Germany (assuming a properly integrated system).
These numbers should be comparable in most places in the USA.

PS My neighbor has a solar heating/hot water system and uses no fuel
at all from May to October. My plumbing was not suitable, so I opted
for photovoltaic. It is at the very least a more environmentally
responsible and cheaper toy than a fancy sports car or SUV.


Just remember this, the more people buy into this, the cheaper it gets. Soon, one would hope our rubbish governments would get involved!

eco futurist

Windmills can be a perfect match for solar systems as a backup for long cloudy periods.

Yet, Ron is right, the house should be visualized as a whole and poor insulation and air leakages should be avoided first.

don bartell

Having your own Wind Turbines at home is a very good way to conserve on your electrical expenses.

Just imagine the amount of money you can save when you have your own power generator providing you with free electricity! A windmill is a very good alternative especially with the economic situation nowadays. It is affordable to your budget and best of all its’ free. You can purchase or build your own wind generator at any hardware store or online site.

Radiant Heat

You don't just save if you have wind turbines attached to your home: You can actually start selling what energy you don't use to the electric company. This way you can make a little profit to go towards the construction costs of the Wind Turbines. Another cost-saving measure is to upgrade your boiler to a radiant heat system. This way your home will heat up much like the sun would heat up the ground. It uses a lot less energy than a boiler as the heat emanates from the floor, not blowing hot air around the home in a constant fashion only to escape to ceilings and the attic.

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It's hard to be more specific about wind power because there's so much variation, depending on windmill height and local topography.

Sealed Lead Acid Battery Supplier

Nice post, well written. Where can i find more of your views?


Great information to help anyone thinking of alternative energy for their home. keep up the good work.

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I think that investing in solar energy sources is a very well rewarding act. Not only solar energy is growing fast on the market- almost any alternative energy source is getting more attention investments and development these days.


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Life's Too Good

I admire what you have done here.I like the part where you say you are doing this to give back but I would assume by all the comments that this is working for you as well.

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Thanks for that informative post, I think that house electricity will become also hybrid, like hybrid engines, solar energy and standard electricity combined together.

air water heat pump

Of course solar can help you to save energy cost. But solar power is ristricted by climates. If it's cloudy or rainny days, you have to use something else as replacement. In fact air-water heat pumps are more ideal: energy-saving and no climate limits. You can see some information on this site:http://www.waveheatpump.com air-water heat pump

solar power hot water heaters

Solar screens are one of the best ways to cut power bill. It helps to keep the home cool in summers and warm in winters.

Roxie Covelli

Yes, you can definitely save money with solar power. Home solar power systems has been very popular nowadays because a lot of people have proven that it is all worth it to invest on it. Besides, you can have more advantages anyway aside from the fact that you can pay less for your electrical bills. Of course, you'd have to observe your climate on where you live, whether you are having much sunlight or that the wind power is much stronger there. You'd have to be wise on choosing which device would be appropriate on your location otherwise your investments would put into waste.

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I agree with you on solar panels as a must-have for every home. This cuts your electric bills by as much as 70-80%. People nowadays are looking for ways to counteract the rising costs of utilities. Not only that, solar panels are also 90% recyclable so basically when you purchase such panels and install them in your home, your hard-earned money is spent wisely.


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