Friday, September 16, 2011

A word on solar panel systems!

I've rarely been accused of brevity, but in the case of solar energy, I will exercise it now; in just two words, don't bother.

I've investigated home solar energy schemes for some time. It's a great concept after all; free power from the sun! Who wouldn't want that?

The problem is, there are only two ways the typical homeowner can go; either build a cheap crappy system (Power4Home and Earth4Energy come to mind), or invest in a high quality (read mega buck) system that might pay for itself twenty years down the road.

My advice is to stay away from solar (and wind power for that matter) until such time as the overall quality-performance to cost ratio vastly improves. When you see the companies that are in the business of making these panels fail left and right, there just may be a problem.

You would probably be better off in the long run by spending your time and money on lobbying your local power provider for lower rates! It also couldn't hurt to write or email your congressperson to suggest they stop building weapons of war and maybe switch to making cheap power available to everyone. Who knows, America might just rise again?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Just in case this winter is a doozy!

My hippie-dippie weather forecast post (US Long Range Winter Weather Forecast for 2011-2012) calls for things to possibly get a little on the extreme this coming winter, so I’ve begun to think of ways I might be able to save on electricity.

My first thought, and one that is running out front at the moment, would be to pack my bags and head for the Florida Keys. I seem to remember seeing efficiency apartments for a reasonable price if I were to rent by the month. Yes, Florida is my first choice.

My second choice will be to move down into my basement where I have a small bedroom that can be cheaply heated with a small room heater while the rest of the house’s thermostat is set back to the mid fifties. I could then pretend I was a Inuit Eskimo living in a small igloo who ate seal blubber and smelled accordingly.

That, so far, are my two well thought out plans should the temps really go crazy. Then again, I guess I could just set the thermostat to 80 and watch my electric meter go wild! More to come on this topic as it gets later in the year!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Crosley washing machine energy use profile!

As part of my group of entries depicting individual energy users, I decided to check the energy graph of running my Crosley washing machine set to medium load, warm cold cycle on 10 minute wash.

The graph, as you can see shows the machine running and using about 700 to 800 watts to run the motor while the rest of the early graph represents the water heater tank recovery cycle.

While I did not calculate the overall cost of one run of laundry, I can guess that it was only a few pennies. Surprisingly the dryer didn’t use all that much energy either (see post).

Sear Kenmore 70 series dryer electrical use profile.

Referring to the graph, the baseline energy use with most everything in the house tuned off is somewhere between 300 to 400 watts. Occasionally, the refrigerator compressor will come on adding about 200 watts to this for ten minutes or so. In the graph you can spot the ‘surge’ as the three phase motor kicked in. This unit uses sensor to step down the heat as it senses that the humidity on the dryer goes down.

I began the run at 11:17 AM and it finished at 11:43 for a total of 26 minutes. As you can see the unit used about 3 kilowatts of power over this time which still only amounts to about 30 cents worth of electrical power.

Energy profile for the cost of a quick shower!

Out of curiosity, I monitored the electrical usage incurred when I too a quick shower. The total time of the show was about six minutes. As the graph shows at about 9:35 AM the 40 gallon GE electric water heater kicked in. It used an average of 5 kWh of power for a period of six minutes to reheat the water I had used. At ten cents a kilowatt hour, I figured my cost to be less than a penny.

As almost an afterthought, I went down to the basement where the unit is located and covered about three fourths of the tank with insulation that was R rated a value of 4.0. I’m not very confident that doing this will result in much in the way of savings, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.