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As per a previous blog, I know that the 160 mile battery pack will need about 400kW Hours. This calculation will use the average solar insolation value and power would be supplied through a grid tie system. The 400kW hours was an inflated number to begin with. For a grid tie system, I will use 95% efficiency.
At my location, I have an average of 4.6 sun hours (Latitude -15). I need to make 400kW hours / 0.95 = 420 kW hours. I need to generate (420kW hours / 30 days =)14kW hours a day. What size array do I need? (14kW / 4.6 hours) I need a 3kW array. The generic installed cost is about $8 a watt for a grid tie system. A system would cost me $24,000 installed. Then take 30% off of that in the form of a Federal rebate. You get  $16,800. Not bad. The simple payback would be 47 Years. Maybe if you sized a system for the car and the house, the cost per watt would reduce to a more reasonable number. Say $6 per watt (I laugh to myself and say no way.) Then the cost would be $12,600. Even better! But just remember, this is at today’s energy rates. Who knows what they will be at in the future.


The Chevy volt is going to cost about $40,000. The Tesla Model S is going to cost at least $50,000. To lease the EV1 back a decade ago was about $500/month. I understand that the cost to develop is very high. But, the federal government seems to be giving the money away. Here is a link to a great blog article that talks about the EV1.

The EV1 drew 18.7 kWh of electricity to fully charge. The national average cost for a kWh of electricity is now $.11, so a full charge (unless I am drastically overlooking something) costs around $3.00. Given that the average American drives around 50 miles a day, they would have to recharge every 3rd day. So in a 30 day month, they will recharge 10 times at $3.00 per charge. $30.00 a month increase in my electric bill to save buying almost $200 in gas a month is perfectly fine with me. Even GM has said the Volt will cost around $.80 a day to operate, which works out to around $24/month.

Two important this to note. “National Average” for electricity is $0.11. Not in California! But, all of these electric vehicles are going (should) be charged at night. Most electric companies that have high rates will give you a substantial break for using electricity in the middle of the night. (Half or more) But, it is definitely cheaper for me to have an electric car. The more electricity I use the less I pay. (Yes, it sounds backwards!)  Now, the Tesla S with the 160 Mile Battery pack has 42kWhrs of storage. If I Drive about a 1,000 miles a month. I would have to recharge 294kWhrs. Now I know nothing is 100%. So I will fudge, 400kWhrs it is. My cost would be (400 x 0.07) $28. Gas would have cost me (1000 / 30mpg x $3) $100. (yes, I used $3) That is a saving of $70 / month. Not really that big of a deal. What if I used 20mpg and $4 a gallon. (The car does go 0-60 in under 6 seconds) 1000 / 20 x 4 = $200. Now we are talking. $170 is a good amount of change. That is exactly what Tesla says also.

According to Tesla’s numbers, buying a Tesla S will save you $10-$15K vs a comparably priced gas-powered sedan when gas is $4 per gallon. For an equivalent comparison, you’d have to lease a $35,000 gas-powered car.

Here is the oficial site. I do like the look of the car. It is fast. Can seat 7 people. (Don’t understand how) And has two trunks. But then again so did this car. Only issue is that it will not be ready for the public until thrid quarter of 2011. A lot can change in that long of time. Maybe the price will too. Down that is.

I  saw a commercial the other day with IT Geeks saying how much their electricity cost are to run there network. One guy said $200,000 a year, another $400,000 the last guy says some number over $1,000,000. I think it was for Dell talking about their new green product line of servers. If they can save money, why can’t I?

A few years a go I built a computer as a DVR. My family loves the DVR I built. It cost me almost $600 over three years ago. Of coarse it does more then just record and play TV shows. I can, if I want to, do everything a normal computer could, just through the TV. One of the best decisions I made was to install a mobile processor on the motherboard. Sure the CPU cost an extra $35, but I know the wattage savings has more than made that up. Don’t forget, I don’t pay a monthly fee for the pleasure of recording. One more thing, all my recording are in HD! And have been for three years. Toot, Toot. 🙂

Now on the the current situation. My office PC has seen better days. At over five years old and used everyday for that entire time, it is in need of replacement. When the monitor shuts off and won’t come back to life, the computer DVD drive makes strange noises, or the newest thing, the computer wakes up in the middle of the night and starts to play my daughters Baby Einstein DVD, it is time.

What I do with current computer? I used to play games all the time. Now, with kids, the last thing I have time for is games. Anymore, I use Facebook, email, word processing and other basic Internet “stuff”. O’ and play movies for my daughter. My current machine does that very well. So I don’t need trillions of transistor of the newest processor. I need a cheap replacement. Enter the Intel Atom processor.The dual core 330 is more then enough. To boot, it uses only 8 watts.

I have always wanted a “Shoe Box” computer. This would be a great time to build one. I could just buy a Mac-Mini but they cost too much. I think I could build a basic computer for about $350 dollars. My current computer uses about 110 Watts. I would like to get that down to 35 Watts. That would be a savings of 13.5 kW a month. Or a $1.35. (6 hours x 75 Watts x 30 days) If I purchase a new LCD monitor I could reduce that even more. Since I don’t need anything special I can use free operating software. My favorite is Ubuntu Linux. I run it on my son’s computer. Never had any issues.

11 x 11 x 4 book sized PC

11" x 11" x 4" book sized PC

After I get it built I will post some pictures and final wattage numbers.

I have been investigating ways to save money during the summer from water usage. I have tossed around the idea of rainwater collection. The major issue is the storage tank. The larger sized ones cost a lot of money. Then there is the issue of location. I can’t just have a 1000 gallon tank sitting on the side of the house. I could just bury a tank but those cost three times as much.

My solution is to drive a shallow well.

I have scoured the internet looking for good resources. I have found quite a few.

Basic How to.

Wonderful and very helpful website by Fred Dungan

The best guide I could find!

Mother Earth News Well Driving.

Terry Love Forum section on wells.

Ohio State Well guidelines

Do-it Best PVC well screens.

I figure it will cost about $500 to drive a 1.25 inch shallow well down 20 ft. This will include the shallow well pump. From the my states website I have determined that I should be able to get water at about 15 ft. or less. The quality of the water is not an issue. I will be watering my garden with it and also my lawn. I will not be drinking from it. This small project will pay for itself in less then one season.

Installation only took 20 minutes. No leaks, Very easy to install. I did need to go to the store before I started. The installation instructions say to purchase four pieces of water line to complete the installation.

When I press the button to start the unit it takes about 45 seconds to bring up the hot water. Now for the problem. The major problem. IT IS VERY LOUD.

In this sound clip, I run a cordless drill, then I run the chilipepper, then the drill again, and to top it off, I flush the toilet.

Audio of ChiliPepper.

I could return it? I could also figure out how to make it more quite. Another option is to tie it directly into the shower. This would require me to solder pipe and cut drywall. Ideally, not something I wish to do at this time.

Simply put, why not. One major thing people complain about with line dried clothing is that it makes the clothes stiff. This can be solved by adding a cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle (in the fabric softener dispenser). This removes all the excess soap.

It appears that the retractable line type models do not get the greatest reviews. So I think I will just go with some drying racks. The master bedroom windows face south so the rack will be in the sun most of the day. Again, reading the reviews, the only racks that get reasonable reviews are chrome metal types.

Amazon has it for abot $30. I will call a few local stores first and see if they have it. Even if I only dry half of my clothes on theses rack, they will have payed for themselves in a little over a year.

Results are in. TED (The Energy Doctor) has allowed me to reduce my bill by almost 50% in one month! The constant vigilance of TED has worked magic. That little green light that blinks, “I am watching you”, reminds me every second to reduce my electricity usage. And it works, I end up looking at TED 50 times a day.  When the Kw readout goes above 1,000 I start asking why, who, and how do I get that lowered. The only side effect of it all, my wife does not really care for TED. She may see the light (Hopefully a CFL) when she sees the greatly reduced electricity bill.

The breakdown. TED states I use 780 Kwhrs. Duke Energy (My electric company) states I used 853 Kwhrs. A difference of 9%. Since I don’t know yet if my meter is read by a person or done over the electric lines, the difference is most likely attributed to the fact that TED starts and stops at midnight and who knows when the meter is read by the electric company. I only know the date or do I? I have a feeling that the start and stop time and date are never going to be accurate to TED. For now I am content. TED does a great job letting me know when my power usage is toward the extreme. If TED constantly tells me month after month that I am using less then the power company tells me, then I will make a call to them for some answers.

At this rate, TED will have paid for itself in 6 months. Check out TED for yourself. It is one of the bests investments I have made so far.

It takes almost 5 minutes sometime for the shower upstairs to get hot and ready to use. It did not take that low before I installed a lower flow shower head. At least I know I am using less water now. But five minutes is too long and I am wasting water. What can I do?

Enter a hot water circulator pump. Now these things don’t run all the time. Only when you press a little button. They don’t waste water either. The pump sends the cold water into the hot water heater tank.

How does it work? This small pump connects between the hot water and cold water. Then it plugs into a standard outlet. When a small button is pressed the pump runs until hot water reaches the pump. The “waste” water actually travels back to the hot water tank and thus is never wasted.

Installation is relatively easy. (or it appears so. I have yet to purchased it.) Connect the unit to the shut off valves. Plug in the unit, and install the button. Here the kick, the plug needs to under the sink. Most of us don’t have an outlet under the sink. However, for me, the current outlet in only above the desired location by two feet. The next minor issue is installing the small activation button. I have to place it so that the wife likes the location. I will just let her tell me the best spot. Done.

These units typically cost about $200 and installation time should be two hours with installing a new outlet under the sink. This project will be done more for convenience then cost saving but I know that I will save money. Three gallons a day or almost 100 gallons a month of water is nothing to bat an eye at. Money wise, maybe a dollar.

Chili Pepper Hot Water Pump

There are many choices on the Internet. I have decided to go with the ChiliPepper unit. The first generation unit had issues with noise. But, there is a new unit out that is suppose to fix that problem. After I install, I will post my review.

Refrigerators use a lot of electricity. A refrigerator is a heat pump. It takes the heat form inside the unit and moves it to the outside. Why not move that heat into something useful. Take that heat that is warming your house 24/7 and put it to good use. Like reducing the demand to the water heater.

If my refrigerator used 2 kWhrs a day, let’s assume then I make 10,000 BTUs a day. (my guess should be more)

Q = cmΔT

Inlet to outlet delta T is 60 degress F.

10000 = 8 x (gallons) x 60

That is 20 Gallons of free hot water. For some people that may cover all of their usage. So who is going to make it?

Update: Surfing the Internet the other day. LG has a patent on a device that supplies hot water at the refrigerator.

Since hot water is generated by the heat exchanger that has the maximized heat transfer area with the heater, hot water can be fed without installing any additional auxiliary heat source.

At least this hot water will be free. But, it is not using the wasted heat fully.

Soon I will have my first month living with TED under my belt. For those who don’t know how or what TED is click here. I can’t wait to compare my billed usage to TED. I think it will be very close and very dramatic. I know that I have greatly reduced my usage because the unit gives me a MTD reading. Last month, I was close to using 1600 kWhrs. This month I will be closer to 800 kWhrs. How? Because I placed the unit in the room I am in the most, the living room. I now have a constant reminder telling me to to REDUCE my usage. If I want I can set an alarm to go off if I go over a certain kWhr. Of coarse, it would just go off when we are making dinner on our electric stove.

Toward the end of the month the red alarm LED starts to blink. I don’t understand why but I don’t mind. I have only had the unit beep an alarm to me once. That was when the voltage went down to 114 for a few seconds. The only issue I have had so far is th unit’s sensitivity to noise on he AC line. If I turn on the lamp next to the couch the unit stop receiving data. I think the problem is the light fixture has a older CFL. If I used the fixture very often, I would replace it. Stay tuned for the the next TED update. I plan on showing some TED footprints graphs.