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bragging: lower energy footprint

tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3109
Location: woodland, washington
    
  58
I'm with rose: venting driers or air drying clothes into living spaces is probably a good idea in some places, and not such a great idea in other places.  where I'm living right now, there just isn't room to hang clothes up inside, and we've got humidity issues even without doing that.

when the schedules line up, I put laundry in the sauna to dry while it heats up.  I suppose that something so leisurely as a sauna isn't terribly eco, but I do try to get some extra use out of the heat.  someday it will also heat a greenhouse...


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Joined: May 26, 2010
Posts: 278
Location: Iowa, border of regions 5 and 6
rose macaskie wrote:
On damp in houses from drying clothes, I have read that if you seal the outside walls of your house  something some people do, then your walls no longer breath the moisture can't get through them  and you get a lot of damp in the house from cooking, baths and wet clothes. My uncle and aunt sealed their house and then complained of the damp in it. People  seal their houses to keep the damp out but it keeps the damp in.
      In some places, in England for example, damp is a problem anyway whether or not you dry clothes in the house but in others like Spain the air is very dry even in winter, so drying clothes indoors might better the air by stopping it from being too dry. agri rose macaskie.


If their houses are sealed so tight that they're experiencing "damp" problems just from cooking, bathing, etc., then they REALLY need to look at some air exchange solutions.  Houses don't need to breath; people do.  If they're not removing their damp, used air, then they're not bringing enough fresh air inside.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
It is true that drying your stuff indoors is gonna raise the humidity. 

And it gets worse:  if the humidity gets too high (about 80% in my experience) the clothes won't dry and then the clothes will start to get funky.

A coupla years ago I went a year without a dryer while living somewhere with 60 inches of precipitation.    Electric and wood heat.  I had my drying racks set up next to the heat damn near all the time.    When the humidity got high enough, I figured it was time to air the house out a bit (something I try to do once a day anyway). 

Of course, in the summer, drying stuff outside makes better sense.  In the winter, where it is already really humid:  I wonder if it might be wise to get a dehumidifer.  It would be cheaper than a dryer, and it would also help with excessive humidity in the whole house.  And you wouldn't be blowing heat outside.


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Storm V Spooner


Joined: Oct 20, 2010
Posts: 144
I am building in an area which has high humidity, so my plan is on drying outside most of the time, but hope to dry some inside during the winter.. I will be using a dehumidifier most of the time, figuring that they use little enough electricity, and if I collect the water I'll be able to add to my water collection as well..


To love the world is to want to know it. To know the world we must accept it. To accept it we use reason to understand it. Never should we shun reason or condemn it.
                            


Joined: Oct 05, 2010
Posts: 37
Location: australia
rose macaskie wrote:
if you seal the outside walls of your house  something some people do, then your walls no longer breath the moisture can't get through them  and you get a lot of damp in the house from cooking, baths and wet clothes.

bill mollison told a story about a usa building company who fell into that trap, and the houses self-destructed in a few years
I realise this is anecdotal, but from bill , it speaks volcanoes


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tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3109
Location: woodland, washington
    
  58
Muzhik wrote:
If their houses are sealed so tight that they're experiencing "damp" problems just from cooking, bathing, etc., then they REALLY need to look at some air exchange solutions.  Houses don't need to breath; people do.  If they're not removing their damp, used air, then they're not bringing enough fresh air inside.


where I'm at, it isn't unusual for relative humidity to hover right around 100% for long periods of time.  it's like living in a cloud.  I don't think more air exchanges would help our moisture problems.
Andy Commons


Joined: Oct 14, 2010
Posts: 28
Re' The energy audit guy. No, he didn't work for the power co. This was a real deal audit by one of the local companies.

Funny how different folks can have such diverse opinions about something. I guess that's what makes this wonderful world go round.


Andy Commons
Jocelyn Campbell
steward

Joined: Nov 09, 2008
Posts: 2693
Location: Missoula, MT
    
  72
A friend just posted the link to this movie at FB: http://dotsub.com/view/aed3b8b2-1889-4df5-ae63-ad85f5572f27

It's a documentary about planned obsolescence and the lightbulb conspiracy - basically a theory about international companies intentionally shortening the life of light bulbs.

It's a broader topic than just energy and light bulbs, and I haven't had time to watch it myself, but thought it might apply to the discussion here.

As for drying in doors - I have high humidity, and had to buy a dehumidifier for the winter months. It does an excellent job of drying both the air and my clothes. I think I'm stacking functions and not using the thing much more than I would be without my clothes on a drying rack. My clothes last longer and don't shrink and get too short in length so I much prefer it. If I want to dry them a bit faster, I put the clothes rack in the bathroom with the dehumidifier and close the door. It's similar to a drying closet as some (European?) folks use instead of a dryer.


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Fred Winsol


Joined: May 22, 2011
Posts: 155
Location: Sierras
As an illumination + electrical engineer... I find a lot of the discussions about lighting to be a bit off-center.  Lighting is much more than efficiency and lumens/watt.  It's about seeing!

There's too many variables... but contrast ratio and critical-ness of the task are 2 important ones. Try reading yellow market on red paper, or if you're doing electrical/plumbing connections vs typing on your computer--- different lighting needed.

LEDs are a FANTASTIC thing to come out of the lab... stay tuned for plasma lights.... but LEDs are being really screwed over by the big corporations.  European sourced LEDs (Ikea ++), and luxury car turning signals are the  ones I use.

I use less than 1140watts/day/person for TOTAL energy, with all the hitech toys + conveniences.  I find that our lifestyle choices and behaviours are WAY more important than the wattage of our stuff.

Fred


Life is too important to take seriously.
Len Ovens
pollinator

Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1306
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  16
winsol3 wrote:
European sourced LEDs (Ikea ++), and luxury car turning signals are the  ones I use.


Turn signals? Aren't those red? I like the 12v part as I want something to use that doesn't need an inverter. I guess there are reverse lights.



I use less than 1140watts/day/person for TOTAL energy, with all the hitech toys + conveniences.  I find that our lifestyle choices and behaviours are WAY more important than the wattage of our stuff.

Yes.... I come home to every light in the house on more times than I would like to admit. I am thinking timers are in order. I don't like the mechanical ones as they make noise and are hard for little/old ones to operate in the middle of night. Something push button... but anything I can find drains some power all the time and has a lowest time of 5 minutes.
Fred Winsol


Joined: May 22, 2011
Posts: 155
Location: Sierras
Len:  The turn signals are usually white... the plastic lens cover is colored... check out ebay motors  @  $4.50/bulb...

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/T15-WHITE-LED-REAR-TURN-SIGNAL-LIGHT-BULBS-REPLACEMENT-_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQfitsZMakeQ3aLexusQQhashZitem43a7987898QQitemZ290574596248QQptZMotorsQ5fCarQ5fTruckQ5fPartsQ5fAccessories

on occupany lites, have u looked into automatic proximity sensors?  again ebay... <$10 each...
http://cgi.ebay.com/Lot-6-Motion-Occupancy-Sensor-Light-Switches-/220794652054?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3368630596
Len Ovens
pollinator

Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1306
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  16
winsol3 wrote:
Len:  The turn signals are usually white... the plastic lens cover is colored... check out ebay motors  @  $4.50/bulb...


Cool.


on occupany lites, have u looked into automatic proximity sensors?


They would have the same problem as the timers I can buy. The sensor has to be always powered. I was thinking something like a cap that charges and holds a relay on till the relay uses up the the cap charge. The cap would get charged  by holding the switch on.
Fred Winsol


Joined: May 22, 2011
Posts: 155
Location: Sierras
Yeah, if you ever find one, let me know ... maybe there's some old, quiet spring loaded ones around. 

I had to find an old RV once to get a propane stove that had a 'pilot off' knob position on it to avoid the 'always on' electronic ignition stoves... it was worth it... still using it after 8 years... and we use 20lbs of propane every two years!
Len Ovens
pollinator

Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1306
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  16
winsol3 wrote:
Yeah, if you ever find one, let me know ... maybe there's some old, quiet spring loaded ones around. 

Probably one of those things I will have to design and build.... I'll post instructions if I get that far.


I had to find an old RV once to get a propane stove that had a 'pilot off' knob position on it to avoid the 'always on' electronic ignition stoves... it was worth it... still using it after 8 years... and we use 20lbs of propane every two years!


I lived in an rv for a year.... we used 30lb a month for cooking, heating, hot water and fridge. The gas stove we had was electric start, but when the power was off we could still light the hobs with a sparker.
Fred Winsol


Joined: May 22, 2011
Posts: 155
Location: Sierras
30lbs a month...wow... why usei am really into 'appropriate' energy use.  I think gas is great for cooking when the sun ain't shining.  For cooling there are root cellars, clay-in-clay pots, ice skimming, etc.  I use a small electric ice maker powered by PV panels for all my summertime cooling needs (in a super insulated cold box). 
And solar hot water is SO easy: Drainbacks and batch heaters rock.
Len Ovens
pollinator

Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1306
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  16
winsol3 wrote:
30lbs a month...wow... why usei am really into 'appropriate' energy use.  I think gas is great for cooking when the sun ain't shining.  For cooling there are root cellars, clay-in-clay pots, ice skimming, etc.  I use a small electric ice maker powered by PV panels for all my summertime cooling needs (in a super insulated cold box). 
And solar hot water is SO easy: Drainbacks and batch heaters rock.


Not so easy to do when you are living in a friend's driveway.... learning to be a single dad. It was the cheapest thing going....The 30ft rv was way better than the 9ft camper we started with... the 30 lbs was winter use... mostly heating. The hot water was instant on, no pilot. I was a lot less concerned about how much I used back then....
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
How much energy is used.  A google image search found me these lovely pie charts:

http://revelle.net/lakeside/lakeside.new/understanding.html



http://tusb.stanford.edu/2007/08/the_green_house_of_the_past-_and_the_future.html



http://teddbenson.com/



http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/slyutse/the_one_billion_ton_opportunit.html



http://www.mypath2zero.com/



source



http://bean-sprouts.blogspot.com/2008/03/focus-on-heating-challenge.html
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I used to think that all of these charts would be the same.  But I've gotten used to seeing a lot of variance.

My power company has sent me at least a dozen flyers about how CFLs would save me huge money.  But even if the CFLs worked as claimed, it would seem I would save far more with the stuff from how I cut 87% off of my electric heat bill.  Or using a clothes drying rack. 

My recent experiments with not using soap or shampoo in the shower have cut my shower time in half, thus saving me a lot on hot water.

Jocelyn Campbell
steward

Joined: Nov 09, 2008
Posts: 2693
Location: Missoula, MT
    
  72
Hm, those charts and graphs don't seem to fit with my energy use.

I started clothes rack drying most of my clothes and hand-washing most all of my dishes and my power bill dropped by 40%.

Since then, I've added in "regulation" showers and it dropped another 20%.

I do live in a small, 875 sq ft condo, in a temperate climate, where just cooking a meal heats up the place and I do not use/need air conditioning. Though I can't imagine I'm the only one with proportions more heavily weighted to appliance use than heating and cooling.

(Loving the local press about your CFL study coming up, btw.)
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
from http://www.motherearthnews.com/Energy-Matters/Average-Electric-Bills.aspx

* The average residential monthly bill is $95.66

* Average residential monthly use is 920 kilowatt hours (kWh)

* The average price paid per kWh is 10.4 cents, so about a dime.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Suppose that the average percentage for light is 7%.    So that works out to an average house spends an average of $7 per month on lighting.    My power company sends me stuff that says that the best energy saving ROI is to replace incandescent bulbs with CFLs. 

And the power company offers to give me the bulbs for free.  Of course, they aren't really free.  They charge me a higher rate for electricity so they can pay for the bulbs.  And the bulbs are subsidized by several different government programs, so then I am forced to pay for the bulbs and all the red tape involved.  But that's a different story for a different day.

The literature from the power company says that these "free" bulbs will cut my power usage for lighting by 75% to 80%.  80% of $7 is $5.60.

The weird thing is that I have kept my incandescent lights where they are (a truly free approach) and then used a convoluted, complicated strategy I like to call "turn off the damn lights."  As a result, my lighting bill is about $1 per month. 

In theory, if I switched to fluorescent, I would save 80 cents per month.  But i think the light from the incandescent bulbs is far superior, so I guess for 80 cents per month, I have luxurious light.  It's worth it to me.

So if the CFL thing worked the way the power company says ("free" light bulbs and 80% reduction) that would be an average savings of $67 per year. 

Let's take a quick look at electric heat.  The average is that half of $1200 per year is on heat.  $600 per year.  BUT, the thing to remember is that only 1/3 of households use electric for heat.  So for those that do use electric for heat, the heating bill is three times bigger.  $1800 per year. 

And yet my article about how I cut 87% off my electric heat bill, if applied to people who use electric heat, they would save $1500.

$1500 vs. "$67". 

And with the wofati stuff or the rocket mass heater stuff, that could be the full $1800 per year.

You would think that the power company would throw me a parade and give links to my article to everybody. 

A $5 clothes line could save, I think, hundreds of dollars per year.  Why don't they give out clothes lines or clothes drying racks.  Hundreds of dollars seems biger than "$67".

I suspect that my no shampoo / no soap in the shower trick saves more money per year than "$67".

How much does the power company spend to advertise to me about CFLs?  And then if I say "yes, I'll take six bulbs please", how much do they spend on that?  And all the other PR stuff and all the administration for all of that?  Just the shipping on getting the box to me has to be at least $10.  And another $5 for somebody to box it up and put my address on it.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
We have a lot of people are DAMN SURE that they are eco, green and have a light footprint, when, in reality, they have no clue what that even means.

It really boils down to kwh. People will put $40 into reducing "phantom loads" which then saves them 40 cents per year. And that $40 spent probably has about $30 worth of energy tied up in it. These people were certain they were making the world a better place when, in reality, they made things worse.

Let us suppose that the average home power bill is $1000 per year (the actual number is something like $1047).

Since electric heat is half of the average, and only a third of homes use electric heat, then it makes sense that .... if there are three homes and one uses electric heat, then that is $3000 for all three. The house with electric heat is spending $1500 on electric heat. The remaining $1500 is divided evenly between them. So each house spends, on average, $500 per year on non heat stuff.

So an average home that uses electric heat spends about $2000 per year on electricity and $1500 of that is on heat.

An average home that does not use electric heat spends about $500 per year on electricity.

I made a crown out of construction paper and I wrote on it "eco judge". I then turn to the wheaton eco scale to measure eco-ness.

For those that do not use electric heat:

0) if you use more electricity than the national average (~$500 per year, 5000kwh) , you cannot call yourself eco. Not even eco level 1.

1) if you use less electricity than the national average, you are at least eco level 1.

2) if you use less than half of the average, you are at least eco level 2.

3) if you use less than 20% of the average, you are at least eco level 3.

4) if you use less than 5% of the average, you are at least eco level 4.

As we start to get into discussions of alternative power, solar, micro hydro, etc., there gets to be a lot of eco tradeoff. The name of the game is environmental impact, and all of these things have a lot of embodied energy (the energy used to make and ship) - so it isn't a clear win. So while there is definitely some eco value down this path, I'm just gonna step past that for now.

And then with heat .... the heat needs of somebody in montana is gonna be different from somebody in florida or hawaii. So I'm gonna stick to just talking about montana.

And then there are lots of different kinds of heat. With electricity, there is all the dirty on the other side of the wire: coal, nuclear, hydro (95% fish kill and sediment issues). Natural gas, oil and conventional wood heat have their environmental problems too.

A) if you use more than the average for your fuel type, you cannot call yourself eco. not even eco level 1.

B) if you use less than half the average, for your fuel type, you are at least an eco level 3.

C) if you use less than 20% of the average, for your fuel type, you are at least an eco level 4.

D) if you use less than 5% of the average, for your fuel type, you are at least an eco level 5.

E) if your heat comes exclusively from a rocket mass heater, then you are at least eco level 5.

F) if you use thermal intertia, like in a wofati or PAHS, then you are at least eco level 6.

It is important to note that how you save on heat is of far greater value than your non-heat electricity savings.

Another interesting note: solar heating techniques can go a long way to reducing heat expenses/needs. So that could be a big part of the driving force in B through D.

Next up: we start chipping away at the $500.

My math says

water heating: $120
lighting: $80
laundry: $60
refrigeration: $60
cooking: $40

This is the national average. Focusing for a moment on laundry: I think there are a lot of households that are sure that they are an eco house and they are currently spending $400 per year on laundry. And, there are lot of households that are equally sure that they are an eco house and they are currently spending $10 per year on laundry. The group spending $400 per year on laundry is SURE that they are eco because they have trimmed here and there and are no longer spending $500 per year on laundry. And, some households that don't give a damn about being eco or saving money are spending more than a thousand dollars per year just on energy for their laundry. Check out this laundry costs calculator to get an idea of how this can be. It is very multi-faceted. I wash only in cold water. I use a front loading washing machine and I air dry. I wash one load per week. I use about a quarter of the recommended soap. When I use the calculator, it says my annual cost is $5 per year.

My point at this moment is that people are SO SURE that they are uber eco, and they just have no scale to really be measured by. So i want to start building this scale. And I think the primary way to do this is to start talking about the idea of there being a scale and what are the roots of this scale (the power bill).




paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
There is an average of 2.6 people per household. I'm gonna say 2.5 to make my math easier. $2000 / 2.5 = $800. $500 / 2.5 - $200.

So, I want to modify all of my numbers to reflect a per person thing. $800 per person per year for heat and electricity. $200 per person per year for electricity, but the heat comes from somewhere else.

I have two big things I want to emphasize:

1) When you have many people sharing a roof, you are generally more eco.

2) Having kids is one of the biggest environmental impacts on the planet. If you choose to travel this path, take ownership of that impact. Therefore, from this point on, when calculating "eco", kids don't count. So if you have a household with two adults and twelve kids, and your power bill (with heat) is $1700 per year, you are not eco. If you have a household with two adults and one kid, and your power bill is $1500 per year, welcome to eco level 1.

That said, if you have a two bedroom home with two couples in it, it is far easier to reach eco level 5, than if you have 1 person living alone in the same home.




paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Lighting.

Earlier, the average american household spends $80 per year on lighting. Here is a light use calculator that advocates CFLs. When you first fire it up, it suggests ten 75 light bulbs on for ten hours per day. That shows an annual cost of $411. It then suggests that if you switch all of those lights over to CFLs then your light bill will be reduced to $99 per year. I have written a lot about how I doubt these savings, but I'll leave that aside for now.

I used the tool to try and figure out my own, current use for lighting. I use 40 watt bulbs, and the calculator only goes down to 60, so I'm gonna knock 1/3 off. That leaves me at an annual expense of $5 per year. And that's with incandescent lighting.

So I use 20 times less energy, and I am not adding to the mercury pollution problem. Nor do I have the problems that many experience with getting sick around CFLs.

I use a strategy I like to call "turn off the damn lights" - I try to rarely have more than one light bulb on at a time. When I leave a room, I turn off the light in that room. When I read, the one light is a 40 watt reading lamp. When I work on the computer, the light is a 40 watt desk lamp. When I watch a movie, the light is a 40 watt light that gently illuminates the whole room.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
From above, water heating: $120. that works out to $48 per person per year.

Mostly showers/baths. Laundry and washing dishes come next. And then washing your hands.

Laundry is easy: just use only cold water. I've used nothing but cold water for many years now and I think everything comes out really clean. I suppose there could be a day when something gets doused in oil and then I'll use "warm" to help get rid of the oil. But that day has not yet arrived.

Dishes: I wash all of my dishes by hand the moment I am done using them. They clean up fast and easy and I have a simple technique of using very little water.

Shower: I never timed my shower, but I know that I've always been a pretty fast shower-er. I'm going to guess three minutes. I did some cruising around on the net and after a lot of time, it was suggested that 365 days of 3 minute showers would cost, on average, $42 in just electricity. I think that is probably about right. I keep my showers pretty warm, so I'm not going to give myself any kind of discount in this space. Three minutes at three gallons per minute works out to nine gallons of water. 3240 gallons of warm water per year. About 1.3 cents per gallon.

Are there about 50 gallons of water for a bath? So the cost of a bath is about ten times more than a shower.

I like the idea of starting each day off with a shower. I know that a hundred years ago people would shower or bathe once a week or so and then sorta do the ole quickie-washcloth-wipe-down approach in between. Maybe on an as needed basis. That might use a half gallon of water, so somebody following that path would use 12 gallons of water per week instead of my 63. About five times less. Pretty damn eco. About twice a week I try to replace a shower with the ole quickie-washcloth-wipe-down approach.

About nine months ago I started something that I've heard a lot about: no shampoo or soap in the shower. I've been having really excellent success with it. And, I think it cuts more than half the time off of my showers.

One very important note along these lines. You might think that turning your water heater temperature down will save you money. Well, it will save a tiny bit of money, but it will also expose you to legionella bacteria. I suggest that you keep your water tank set to 140. And the next time that you need to replace your water heater, consider getting a smaller one. Also note that about 90% of solar hot water designs are legionella bacteria incubators. Be safe!


Josh T-Hansen


Joined: Jul 14, 2010
Posts: 143
Location: Zone 5 Brimfield, MA
    
    1
paul wheaton wrote:
My point at this moment is that people are SO SURE that they are uber eco, and they just have no scale to really be measured by. So i want to start building this scale. And I think the primary way to do this is to start talking about the idea of there being a scale and what are the roots of this scale (the power bill).


Agree with everything, but the scale is bigger than just the power bill. All bills and expenditures should be considered roots (although some spending is beneficial).


relevant ->Hardy Kiwi Kickstarter l YogaToday 2 week trial l Daring Drake Farm - NY
The farming village was above all a society of philosophers without a need for philosophy - Fukuoka
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
The wheaton eco scale can be used to measure hundreds of facets to determine eco-ness. But to fully discuss all of the possible metrics would easily fill a library.

Ernest Friedman-Hill
Dúnedain of Arnor


Joined: May 09, 2008
Posts: 23
    
  10
I am going to propose that you should base this on a combined figure for heat and electricity. I have a downstairs gas furnace and an upstairs heat pump -- not the same as electric heat, really, but the conversion factor is unclear. The nice thing about using a combined figure is that the total amount of energy you use is represented. I could get my electric bill down to zero by buying a diesel generator and running it 24x7, for example, but that would not be eco.

Joshua Msika


Joined: Jun 06, 2010
Posts: 66
Location: Nova Scotia
About nine months ago I started something that I've heard a lot about: no shampoo or soap in the shower. I've been having really excellent success with it. And, I think it cuts more than half the time off of my showers.


I'm glad I'm not the only one . Works fine.
Ernie Wisner
volunteer

Joined: Oct 16, 2009
Posts: 788
Location: Tonasket washington
    
  23
Whew the folks on face book are sure up in arms. lots and lots of instant defending them selves going on.


Need more info?
Ernie and Erica
Wood burning stoves, Rocket Mass Heaters, DIY,
Stove plans, Boat plans, General permiculture information, Arts and crafts, Fire science, Find it at www.ernieanderica.info


paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Ernie Wisner wrote:Whew the folks on face book are sure up in arms. lots and lots of instant defending them selves going on.


Pretty wild, eh?

Ernie Wisner
volunteer

Joined: Oct 16, 2009
Posts: 788
Location: Tonasket washington
    
  23
pretty funny.
it would be better if some of those folks actually took the time to read the thread. I had to read it just to figure out what all the hubbub was about. not that i found out but it was a good read.
Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3146
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
paul wheaton wrote:We have a lot of people are DAMN SURE that they are eco, green and have a light footprint, when, in reality, they have no clue what that even means.
...
My point at this moment is that people are SO SURE that they are uber eco, and they just have no scale to really be measured by. So i want to start building this scale. And I think the primary way to do this is to start talking about the idea of there being a scale and what are the roots of this scale (the power bill).


I am quite sure, nay, DAME SURE, I am uber eco. I have no power bill. Where does that put me on the scale?

I use 2 - 2 1/2 cord of wood to heat my home - no back up. Much solar gain in winter, not much in summer. The house is R-38 on 6 sides. That bit about houses not breathing is crap. If you have a dog, you'll get plenty of air exchange letting him in and out all day. I have an instantaneous hot water heater (propane). When you're off grid, the savings from CFL are huge. We will switch to LED when the CFLs burn out (they're lasting about 10 years).

On the negative side, we live in the country which means a fair amount of driving. I have a 6 burner, commercial oven (the wood stove has an oven though). We don't shower - we take baths, but not every day.

There are actually quite a few things we could do to be more efficient, but then there is that Kunstler quote "efficiency is the straightest path to hell."


My project thread
Agriculture collects solar energy two-dimensionally; but silviculture collects it three dimensionally.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
So how do you power your computer stuff so you can visit with us? Some sort of off grid thing-a-ma-jig? Solar? Micro hydro? Are there batteries? Did you get it all for free?

My point is that I'm trying to come up with a quickie test. And while the off grid stuff is usually better, it isn't perfect either. I think the off grid stuff needs a 30 year average cost thing-a-ma-jig to see where you come in.

Ernie Wisner
volunteer

Joined: Oct 16, 2009
Posts: 788
Location: Tonasket washington
    
  23
Well a quickie test probably cant be done using power consumption as a litmus. I rather think the embodied energy would be a better test. IE. car, house, boat, Etc. However; as i have said before the biggie is the payback of the energy you use. IE. if you live in the same house for twenty years, drive the same car fifty years, use the same solar panels one hundred years (yes the refining that those wonderful pure elements in the panel represent are damn expensive), ETC.

Its a function of our society that the true costs of all the refining, smelting, mining, transport, processing, manufacturing are all hidden. companies go with the cheapest materials at each level so you have a low cost object. Problem is that making an object with good materials all the way is not only expensive but it doesn't support the economy. if an object lasts you dont need a new one, so you dont buy a new one.
this is the funny part the gurus that count the beans cant seem to make the leap that if you have good products that last you are more likely to spend your money on good food, good medical, quality entertainment and such.
so literally the market is against healthy food production, healthy people, and by and large any sort of intelligence not bent to the market. its our job as permies to see this and figure our way around the status quo. so those that are most permiculture would be those with the least embodied energy to pay back.

just my thoughts on it.

PS. just think about how much fuel it takes an exploration vessel to find an oil deposit and map it. then try to figure the real cost of a drill rig to get to the oil. it boggles the mind.
Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3146
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
paul wheaton wrote:And while the off grid stuff is usually better, it isn't perfect either. I think the off grid stuff needs a 30 year average cost thing-a-ma-jig to see where you come in.


TINSTAAFL!

I'm solar with a generator backup. It doesn't seem fair to require me to 30 year cost average when no one else needs to. The scale is either power bill or not. There are a few small cases where that wont work as an eco scale but in general it should shake out the posers.
Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3146
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
Ernie Wisner wrote:I rather think the embodied energy would be a better test.


I agree completely. The embedded energy in nukes is crazy, and that's without considering Fukushima and Chernobal.

We built our house 16 years ago with the understanding that it would cost 10% more to construct. Most people couldn't figure out why we would do that even though they lived through the 70's.

Our oldest solar panels are 19 years old and perhaps we'll take them off line this summer and use them to power the aquaponics in the hoop house.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1406
Location: Chihuahua Desert
We use about 1.5 kWh a day, all solar. I think that's like $0.15 worth of electricity a day, or about $4.50 a month. I have less than $4,000 in my entire system.
12 VDC fridge, 12VDC deep freeze, 12 VDC lights

Solar water heating - 100% of hot water

Passive Solar and buried home design - 70% of space heating
Wood burning stove and radiant floor heater - 30% of space heating



Living off grid - guides for the off grid lifestyle in the modern age
Homesteading - latest updates and projects from our off grid homestead
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1406
Location: Chihuahua Desert
I forgot to mention that 100% of our water comes from rain catchment, and that 12 VDC deep freeze is filled with home grown pork and rabbit. Most of our fruits and vegetables are grown locally. 90% of our meat is grown on our property.

We are a family of four, and in the 10 years that we've been living like this, we've used less energy than a typical American household would use in a year.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1406
Location: Chihuahua Desert
In response to assessing the environmental impact of solar/wind/off grid power systems, if you look at all the embodied energy, it adds up. BUT, if you look at the embodied energy of a nuclear plant, coal plant, (including mining, transportation, work force, etc), it adds up, too.

People might say the embodied energy per capita is lower for the coal/nuclear crowd, but without data to examine, it is impossible to say.

In addition, I have built several hundred wind generators over the years using mostly junk, so their embodied energy payback is really good. In fact, a lot of my house and my projects are made from using junk, (including solar mounts and components), so it's not as easy as one might think.

Don't forget to look at the energy required to maintain the infrastructure where you live. In cities/urban environments, in gets divided by huge populations, BUT they consume HUGE amounts of energy just to pump water or fill potholes.

My municipality spends exactly 0 energy for my infrastructure, and I think that out to count for something!
 
 
subject: bragging: lower energy footprint
 
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