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So I have an interesting idea. Instead of a huge 5k Watt solar system, what about something smaller. Say a 1000 Watt system. That would only be 5 panels on my roof. I could still get a large inverter and have a medium sized battery bank for backup power. Currently, I have 6 UPS (uninterpreted power supplies). That right I have six.  Each unit uses about 15-20 Watts all dat everyday. I figure that this is about 100 Watts per hour. 24/7 for an entire month is 72kWhrs. Does not seem like much but it is 10% of my “off-season” average. (By off-season I mean no AC or Heat.)

If I subtract the 2.4kWhrs I waste every day from my TED average daily usage I get some thing like 18kWhrs. If the power was out in the neighbourhood and the family watched there usage very close, (Okay, Okay, If I was a drill Sargent!) this number would be much smaller. Since virtually all the lights are CFLs the light load is very small. Then you would have a refrigerator and microwave to worry about. By my estimates I would be looking at 5kWhrs. (Cooking would mainly be done on the LPG Grill.)

What am I thinking? Well, first I was thinking about using Xantrex XW components. I would want to get a XW6048 so all I would need to do in the future to expand is add more panels. I would need an XW solar charge controller. 5 Evergreen solar panel (200W each) 8 Trojan L16 batteries. Installation hardware and Presto! Back-up power. If it was only that easy.


Inverter – $3500
Solar charger – $550
Solar Panels – $5500
Batteries – $3000
Shipping – +10%
Installation “Stuff” – +15%
Total = $15600

Don’t forget the federal rebate! (This is the reason for the solar panels in the first place, you don’t have to have them. But then you would not get the rebate now would you. 🙂

New total is $11000.
Fro my other blog post, I determined that for every Watt on my house I should produce 1.2kWhrs a year. I would have 1200 Watts of Panels, so that would be 1400kWhrs. That would equal $140 a year in savings. But the point of this exercise was to provide backup power not offset my entire usage. Every year for the next four years I could add 5 more panels. The only thing I would need to add is another $550 solar controller. Another nice idea is the inverter charger has a second AC input for a generator. I could get a small generator that would run at full power. This would maximize fuel usage and keep the cost of fuel down. It is better to run a generator at near capacity then it is to run it at 30%.

The dreams continue. I wonder if I could get a deal at


If I manage to get to below 500kWhrs a month, what would it cost to put solar panels on my roof? Assuming I have enough roof space, the going ball park cost per watt is $8-$10 Watt. According to PVWatts I need about a 5,000 Watt system. PVWatts is a great tool! I will use $9 a Watt. 5000 Watts x $9 x 0.7 (Federal Credit) = $31,500. Think of its as buying as car. But in ten years the car will be worth virtually nothing and the system will still be worth at least half of its installed value. And to top it off the system will be making you money! In my case not as much as some. (My rate is about $0.10 a kWhr.)

PVWatts assumptions.

De rating factor of 0.80
Array Tilt of 45 degrees.
Array Azimuth of 200 degrees. (House does not face due south)

The output from PV Watts is (“Year”, 4.36, 5973, 595.81). The middle number is a yearly output of kWhrs. This number divided by 12 is about 500 kWhrs.

This would be a grid-tie system. So I would not be able to “ride out” a storm with lights if the power fails. The power very rarely goes out, but it would be great if I did not have to worry about outages. But, grid-tie usually yields higher efficiencies. If the state offered some additional incentive I would seriously consider a solar system. The next power reduction upgrade is a new Heat Pump. This will replace the Gas Furnace and the AC unit. I currently have a 80% efficient Gas furnace and a SEER 10 AC unit.

That is the edict for my wife. That thought is how many people feel I bet. Why should my wife be any different. Well, she is married to me. I figured I would have rubbed off a little by now. I think what did it was the lighting fixture in the entry way. I hesitate to call it a chandler but that is probably what it is called. I replaced all of the incandescence with torpedo style CFLs. Needless to say it is not the nicest looking fixture now. But it went from using 320 Watts down to using only 42 Watts. I would like to replace it with something more substantial. But, it must be more energy efficient. It will most likely be something with upward facing little shades so that it will hid the CFLs.

What the energy conservation movement needs is form and function. Take for example, Sunfrost refrigerators. They are wonderfully efficient but they don’t look like a super sexy french door unit with water and ice thru the door. I love gas ranges, but my wife likes the cool “Smooth Top” electrics. I could meet half way with an induction unit. But they are very expensive and are current aluminum cookware would not work on them.

We do agree that the next car should get great mileage. She wants a mini-van. Honda is not going to put a clean diesel in the Odyssey. Not is going to make a hybrid any time only. So we are stuck. Maybe I can talk her into a hybrid/diesel wagon?

Recycling. That is anther issue. She will recycle. But, if a plastic shampoo bottle is finished upstairs she would rather throw it away then bring it down stairs to recycle. Her idea of recycling newspaper is to literally throw it in the garage and let me “figure it out”. I would love to compost kitchen scraps. But forget it. She would never go for it.

I am sure this is the case in many households. Some embrace the ideas of Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse. Others simply just “Buy Today, Throw Away tomorrow.” The only way average people, anywhere in the world, are going to embrace the three R’s is if it saves them money! It is as simple as that. With that said, I am not an average person. So I will keep trying to do what I feel is best. Making the World a better place just makes sense.

Doesn’t Duke have to buy green power anyway? Won’t I just be giving money away to the biggest coal using company in the nation? Who gets the “Green Power” money anyway? These are just some of the questions I have for Duke Energy. I have too many questions, if they only had a link on there website that stated who and where they purchased “Green Power” from. So I may go a different route.

Enter the Department of Energy. They have a wonderful table of Renewable Energy Producers.

I am cheap so I pick They have a nice tool to help determine my annual CO2 emmisions. For the House and Cars it is at 12.43 tons. Not too bad. But here is the thing that I don’t see anywhere. What about the trees in my front yard? What about the grass? What about the garden? And all the other plants in the yard? Do I offset my offset?

So I have decided not to buy green power from anyone. I will just continue to reduce my carbon footprint, one step at a time. I feel this is the best most cost effective way to limit my impact. Some day I will have my footprint reduce so far down that solar panels will go on the roof to reduce it to zero. (At least the house anyway)

Two words, Still Loud. That’s right. I spent a total of 8 hours moving the chilipepper to it new location and it is still too load for my liking. Currently, it is located under one of the seats in my doubled seated fiberglass shower. I think I can try one more thing. I need to look for full 1/2″  ID connection piping. No more water faucet junk with a small 1/4 inch line. I think the pump would be quiter if the diameter of the connecting water pipe was increased. I just have to find some 1/2″ ID flexible water with 1/2″ connections.

It is better having the unit located on the shower supply lines. This is the farthest fixture from the hot water heater and the one that we want hot water at quickly. The unit is slightly quieter then under the sink. But, the wife will not use it unless it makes less noise. I am going to add some insulation under the seat but I need to install the new water connections first. If that does not do the trick, I will be calling the company to see what I can do to help with this issue.

Lets face it, TED is always going to win. 🙂 Duke stated my energy usage was 763 kWhrs. TED said my usage was 778.6 kWhrs. That is a difference of 2%. It was much closer this month. I feel the reason is my KVAR unit was turned off the entire month. But, I like the KVAR for the surge suppression ,so it is back on. I can live with TED and POCO (Power Company) being off by no more then 10%. The main purpose is to provide real time feed back on energy usage. Ted does a great job!

One important thing to note about last month. I had the AC on for two entire days. This increase my usage by almost 50kWhrs. This does not make the summer look very good for TED. Basically, AC double my daily electricity usage. 25 kWhrs x 30 days is an extra 750kWhrs.

I did email Energy, Inc. They never got back with me about how the KVAR unit will effect the workings of TED. I may try again at a later date but right now I am content. They may not have an answer?

It seems that the average for a non-heating or cooling billing period is 750kWhrs. I would like to get that number to about half of that. The reason being that I need to use more when the cooling and heating seasons start. I do understand I have a long way to go. But I will keep trying to reduce reduce reduce my consumption I may be able to get closer over time.

For some reason I like to read magazines, not books or the newspaper, but magazines. Yesterday, I finished a wonderful project. (My wife loved it!) I decided to look at all my old magazines and cutout all the articles I would like to save. Then instead of making a binder with all the cutout articles, I scanned them. When it was all done, Recycling time!

I went thru about a hundred magazines that I thought would have a good article or two. I sent over two boxes of old magazines to the recycling bin when I was finally finished. Mind you, that was just cutting them out. Then I had to scan them. That took just as long. All in all, I spent about ten hours cutting and scanning.

The current plan is to cut and scan about every three months. This way I only spend a few minutes, not hours. This also keeps the cluter down to a minimum too. That is the part my wife likes best. If I could only get used to electronic delivery format. Then I would never have to do this in the first place.

Baby steps, baby steps.

Seriously! I have been hunting down phantom loads for months. With everything off. (At least from what I can tell) I am running at close to 500 Watts. Sure I am much better off then last year but this is starting to get annoying.

My DVR uses about 75Watts (need to check again). Home network stuff uses 15 Watts. Outside dusk-to-dawn lights only use 9Watts each for two of them. We leave one CFL on downstairs for a whopping 10Watts.

I need to cycle my fire alarms and watch TED. Maybe they are using 100W????? That would be 72 kW hrs a month? Research on my model states operating current is 50mA. That would be about 6 Watts. I have 7 units. So 42 Watts. Or 30kWhrs a month. That is equal to $36 a year. 9V batteries cost about 3 dollars. What if I just turned off the fire alarms. They have battery backup. This will require further investigation. I just would to be 100% sure I have working fire alarms!

What to do about the fish tank? It uses almost 2 kw hrs a day. Most of the usage is in the heater for the water. I have tiger barbs. They like the water at 77 degrees. I already have it set at 75 degrees. I have thought about just turning off the heater and seeing if they make it. Seems cruel. The basement temperature is always about 68 degrees year round. What I may do is find fish that don’t need the heater. If you think about it, the fish tank uses as much power as a refrigerator. Not cool. It uses almost 60 kW hours a month. Currently, that is 8% of my total consumption. If I had understood that I may never have purchased it in the first place, or at least fish that need a tank heater. I could always get guppies or gold fish. They don’t need a tank heater.

I have almost replaced all of my lights with CFLs. I have the lights in the two freezers. I have the lights in the over-the-range microwave. But I have a plan for those. I am going to buy dimmable candelabra bulbs. This is because they are small and the microwave has two light settings.

Still, at the end of the day I am missing something. Maybe I will cycle each circuit breaker in the box. Then I will look at TED. I also need to check idle power on some older electronics equipment. I just don’t see it adding up to anything close to 100W but I could be wrong.

For now, the hunt contiunes. I will route out all the ghosts. I will eliminate some and live with the others.

Step one!

Step one!

Darn habits! Like the one where you reach for the shampoo in the shower. That is just what I did. So for the three days that I did not use shampoo I notices that I was not scratching my head as much, also no dandruff. But today, I have been inching all day. I am convinced that “No Poo” is a good thing. I have now removed all shampoo from the shower. I am going to buy the large sized baking soda box, and apple cider vinegar.

Step Two!

Step Two!

My wife is no longer using shampoo either. She has decided only to use conditioner. I don’t understand that because my hair was feeling great with just the baking soda and apple cider vinegar.

I purchased a “ChilliPepper” hot water circulator pump a few weeks back. My wife won’t use it and hates how loud it is. (I have to agree about the noise) I have decided to move it and attach it directly to the shower lines. Since it is the show that has the biggest wait time. I could always hit the button for the sink too.

The plan is to cut a small hole in the closet. Cut the lines and install tees. Run power from another outlet and enjoy. I make it sound sooooo simple.

Watts access panel Super easy. I don’t have to cut a square hole!

Compression Tees I don’t want to solder inside of a wall.

Water supply connectors I have to make sure what I have will work?

The most difficult part will be the extra outlet. I have to get in th attic on work in only three foot high ceiling area. But I think I can manage.

The unit is going to be locate under the seat in the shower. I have plenty of room for all of the equipment. First I will cut the hole and see what I have to work with for sure. I will report back when I am finished.