green car, green home?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by galaxee, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. hobbit

    hobbit Senior Member

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    One thing to remember is that a large number of people don't have
    a *house* to worry about energy consumption in. What about apartment
    dwellers, in buildings with old flakey heating/cooling systems that
    so often get out of whack that people are simply opening windows
    to try and compensate? Lots of waste heat. What about larger
    industrial buildings whose occupants are focused on near-term
    profitability, and damn the energy expense used to get there? Just
    yesterday I walked past the opening into an underground parking
    garage, and the blast of warm air just flying out of that was
    amazing -- and it wasn't even that cold outside. All that waste
    heat was undoubtedly created by burning fossil fuel, and it's ironic
    as hell that people talking about R40+ in their ceilings at home
    and argon-filled windows and whatever may be posting from their
    workplaces that are sucking hundreds of thousands of kwh just to
    keep business flowing.
    .
    We're a fairly intelligent audience here; it's all those *other*
    people that need to be convinced about reduced energy usage and to
    lean on their facilities management folks or landlords or whatever
    about taking some action. Maybe if mainstream TV started making a
    real issue of it, rather than running end-to-end fluff pieces about
    which celeb is boning which celeb this week, we'd get somewhere.
    .
    _H*
     
  2. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    That's a good point. However at least some of the buildings I live in/work in appear to have made extensive retrofits to minimize the loss.

    Here in Manitoba it was - of all entities - Manitoba Hydro that started a widespread retrofit program a few years ago. Manitoba Hydro subsidizes local electricity rates ($6.45 monthly service charge, 5.8 cents for the first 175 kwh, 5.6 cents for the remainder) by exporting most of their hydroelectricity into the United States at a nice profit.

    They realized it would be very wise to reduce local consumption to increase their profits in the export market. The more they export, the more their profit.

    The high-rise condo I currently live in has a two year old chiller on the roof. I've seen it and the York chiller is energy star rated. Most of the heat exchangers in the suites were also replaced with more efficient ones. Manitoba Hydro covered most of this with rebates and other incentives.

    The heated underground parking used to draw in raw outside air, and exhaust the heated air, directly. They retrofitted to industrial Heat Recovery Ventilators and claim to have reduced the underground garage heating by 65%, and the air quality is WAY better too.

    Just this summer the condo association replaced most of the flourescent lighting in the emergency stairwells with LED. The light level is almost the same and they claim 1/10 the power consumption. As an added bonus if the power should fail, the backup batteries will last much longer.

    At work similar programs were carried out in the underground parking garage, the emergency stairwells, and the office suites. The biggest difference I've noticed was retrofitting the industrial HRV's, the air quality in the building is MUCH better.

    I watched last year when they were in the utility rooms on each floor putting in the HRV's. The office building is 26 years old and up until the mid 90's they allowed smoking in the building. You should have seen the ductwork, a thick layer of dust AND this nasty yellowish crud on everything.

    Ever since they put in the HRV's that stale cigarette smell has disappeared. It used to give me headaches and congestion.

    I really don't see why most industrial and commercial buildings can't be retrofitted. Certainly new construction around here has extensive design towards energy conservation. The new Manitoba Hydro building is an example of what you can do with relatively minor engineering and effort to reduce energy use by 60%:

    http://canada.archiseek.com/news/2005/000213.html

    http://canada.archiseek.com/news/2005/0002...ustrations.html

    http://www.hydro.mb.ca/issues/downtown_final_design.shtml
     
  3. DaveinOlyWA

    DaveinOlyWA 3rd Time was Solariffic!!

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    well my apartment complex has not retrofited anything. single pane 60's style mobile home windows, electric baseboard heat...because we have 3 4 plexes here, each has a corner unit so only have neighbors on two sides. if im lucky, my neighbor can blast the heat and it will seep through the walls...hehehe...oh well, guess that would not fit in with the goal of this thread.
     
  4. coloradospringsprius

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    Yesterday my wife and I decided to replace the furnace in our rental property with a geoexchange heat pump system. This will cut the house's energy requirements by half, or possibly by two-thirds (considering the current furnace's age/inefficiency).

    The system won't be installed until January, when the tax code changes to increase the geothermal credit. I'll update the list on whether it works as expected or not.

    More info at:

    http://www.geoexchange.org/
     
  5. tomforst

    tomforst New Member

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    In our all electric house (natural gas not available), I've reduced our electric bill from about $240/month to about $150/month by:
    a: installing all compact fluorescents (even 3 $13.99 dimmable ones)
    b: heating with wood when we're home (from my biofuel woodlot)
    c: replacing 12 defective double-paned windows that were under warantee

    Even so, I still use about 18,000 KWH per year.

    So -- Right now, I'm talking with a contractor about installing a 10KW Bergey Xcel wind generator, which should generate (in my location) about 15,000 KWH/year. (for those interested in residential wind generation, see Bergey.com). Here in New York, the state subsidizes 50% of the cost of residential solar and small wind generators and mandates that the utility accept 'net metering' so that the electric meter runs backwards when you are generating more than you are consuming.

    I also looked at geothermal heatpumps, but the installed cost is just slightly less than the installed cost of the wind turbine and it would only reduce my heating costs (and give me central air, which I don't really need), without reducing the rest of my electric bill.

    I just got a notice in the mail that my utility is increasing my electric rate from about $0.10/KWH to $0.13/KWH, a 30% increase, effective January 1st. It makes the economics of the wind generator even more attractive.
     
  6. DocVijay

    DocVijay Active Member

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    I know the house you're talking about. It was a joint project with UF (I was there at the time) and the power company. I think they had some other funding as well. Anyhow, the techniques used in the house were quite extreme, and it would practically impossible to implement many of them without building a brand new house. While it would be great to do that, the costs involved to use those new techniques would be very expansive in an average house. Really cool house, I went and saw it myself. Back then, they had whole house wired networking, and it was considered ultra-high tech! :D

    In our house we do have relatively well insulated wall R16, and our celing is R40. We also ahve the radiant barriers on the roof. Our attics rarely get over 95-100 degrees, which is pretty good for Florida. In my parents older, less efficient house, the atticas get upwards of 120 degrees during the summer! The roof itself, though cannot be changed, as the HOA is very picky! As for being well sealed, not really, as I have already found a few leaks (which expanding foam has taken care of!). Solar window film is coming up this winter, and that will help quite a lot. As I said, all of our appliances are Energy Star, so that we also have covered. The down side is that we have a rather large two-story home with very high ceilings. It takes a lot of energy to cool all that volume, and that is not something you can easily fix. Those pesky thermodynamics laws are rather inflexible. We have two A/C units, and even thought they are energy efficient models, they still cost. To mitigate that, solar and dual pane sealed windows are coming in the next few years.
     
  7. FredWB

    FredWB New Member

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    Sounds like you're much better off than me. My house has the high ceilings too (and 2 story) and only R11 in the walls and R30 in the attic. The fans help a lot to keep the upstairs closer to the downstairs temperature. This house is very leaky and is typical of houses here in So Cal built in 1987. But it did have one of the first 80% furnaces. The ceilings fans really help a lot because with the dual pane windows, if we keep things closed, we almost never need AC. But if we do it's the humidity in the house that eventually causes us to run the AC even though the temp might only be 78 inside. Once the humidity hits 70+% it starts to get uncomfortable. Running a dehumidifyer helps some but heats up the closed house too much and I found it's more expensive than just running the AC for a 10-12 min burst to de-humidify.

    I saw recently that Lennox just annouced their 22 SEER AC which is incredible compared to the "high efficiency" 10 SEER model I have. My 4 ton AC isnow way too large for my more efficient 2100 sq ft house. I think if you can put the dual pane windows in you'll see a pretty good change. I bought the Milgards and I'm not all that happy with the amount of air infiltration with them but I still see a big improvement in heating and cooling. The dealers here all discourage the Argon gas filled ones. They claim the gas leaks out in a yr or two. I'm not sure how true that is but it doesn't say much for Milgard if their's leaks the argon and others like Anderson, etc don't.
     
  8. DanP

    DanP Member

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    Our lighting is pretty much all florescent, aside from some halogen track lighting in the library for which no florescent bulbs will fit. We keep the thermostat at 79 or 80 during the summer, 68 in the winter. And this past June we installed a 5Kw (AC rated) solar array on the roof. On sunny days we generated approximately 30 kwh per day from June until this writing. And for the past 6 weeks we've generated an average of 10 kwh more per day than we used. Solar makes sense in our area, which is basically desert.

    Today the electrician from Southern Cal Edison came out to install our time-of-use meter. During the "summer" months (early June to early October) we'll be "selling" electricity back to SCE at a rate of about 50 cents per kwh during the peak, sunny hours between 10am and 6pm (about $15/day, less whatever we use for the AC during those peak hours); during off-peak hours we'll be paying 12 cents/kwh. We only need to run the AC heavily during July and the first part of August, so this time-of-use arrangement ought to really pay off for us). In the winter the differential between on-peak and off-peak is less: 9 cents/kwh vs 4 cents/kwh.

    So we're just feeling pretty green over this way. :) Now all I have to do is get off my butt and start walking to work. This is difficult, however, because I don't want to leave my Prius at home.
     
  9. DanP

    DanP Member

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    It all depends on where you live, doesn't it. In coastal San Diego most people never need to use either AC or heating at any time: temps range from the low 60s to the low 80s year-round. 35kwh would be on the high side for us, as well--at least for most of the year (inland Southern California--semi-desert). In late July and early August, when the high temps hover between 95 and 110 around here, our daily usage is about 50kwh. In the spring/fall and winter it's more like 17-24 per day. Your house might also be quite a bit larger than average. Our house is only about 2,200 sq. ft., single storey. And we bought the most efficient AC unit we could find about 5 years ago (12 seer: not great, but it was best for a rooftop AC/furnace at the time; some of the ground-mounted AC-only units were rated at 18 seer). You also have to factor in the humidity of Florida, where even 78 degrees can feel downright uncomfortable and where you really need to run the AC 24/7. Around here we can open up the doors and windows at night let the cooler dry air cool the house to the low 70s by morning.
     
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