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Let me first say that if I could get my wife to use this along with myself I would buy it already. The NatureMill website is very good. From what I can tell there are two models. The extra $100 for the Pro does not get you very much. Designer colors, heavy duty mode, life time filter, and a three year warranty. I don’t care about color since it would go under the sink. Heavy duty mode may come in handy. Filters only cost $8, replace every five years. The warranty extended to 3 years may be good too. But for $100, I will pass.

Plus XE for only $299. Shipping costs $15. If I could change my trash pickup to every other week I could pay for this composter in a few years. But the biggest benefit is the compost itself. For years I have tried to grow vegetables in my garden. This last years tomatoes were worthless. I need to amend the soil. The compost would be perfect.

I havew never composted anything from inside the house to the outside. (I know, shame on me.) So I think I should start off a little slower. Countertop Composter. I am planning for two compost bins this fall and I figure I could take this out every few days to the bins. (Have to plan for the cold winter days???)



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For every watt of renewable energy capacity, you have to have a backup. That backup is almost always going to be a fossil fuel. Not that is don’t want renewable energy. I just understand that we will continue to have to use fossil fuel for a long time to come. I was at an state environmental meeting a few years back. The one thing I remember about that meeting was a question posed by one of the guest speakers for the day. He asked, “What is going to be the fuel that drives our energy needs fifty years from now?” His answer, “Coal.” Maybe he is right? I don’t know? But, coal will be with us for a long time. Like it or not. Personally, I hope that every house has a solar array and a highly efficient battery system. That way no one will even need a power company. The power company will be the people that come out to do regular maintenance and repairs. If we still have a grid it will be to support your local neighborhoods power consumption during times of high usage in that neighborhood. I was reading that after the Chevy Volt battery has lived a good life inside the car that GM thinks it would be a great edition to a solar system as the primary storage of excess generation. 25kW hours could go along way in a power outage. (Sadly for some, it would not last more then half a day.)

But, conservation is still king. Do more with less. (I always hated to here that in a work environment.)We don’t have a need for a new high tech power plant if people would just start using less. In Indiana, my electric bill is usually around $100 for 1000kW hours. That same 1000kW hours in New York or California may cost well over $300. Not that anyone wants to pay more for anything but I think it would be nice if people would stop and look at their consumption. My TED unit has helped with that quite a bit.If the power company wants to help people reduce there bill so they don’t have to build another expensive plant then they need to inform their customers about their usage in real time. Not once a month.

Before I think about a solar system, I know that conservation is king. I would hope that yours is too. Paying good money for a high quality energy efficent appliance will save you more money than throwing more solar panels on your roof.

Cool your house with ice generated at night! That is right. Mostly right anyway.  Ice Energy has a produce that “makes” ice at night and uses the stored energy during the heat of the day. So for all you people out there that have TOU rate plans, this could save you money. (I am thinking of California!)

Basically, you have a regular AC unit that runs at night to make the ice inside the unit. When the thermostat calls for cold air, the ice is then melted providing the building with up to 30 ton-hours of cooling. (360,000 BTUs) I will use my house as an example. The other day it was 90 degrees outside. My air condition ran most of the day. Lets say 12 hours. I have a 2.5 ton unit. That would be about 2.5 x 12 hours = 30 ton hours. (convenient) If I was in California and had TOU (Time of Use) like most do, I may have paid $0.40 a kWhr. (3kW x 12hours x $0.40 = $14.40 a day) With the Ice Bear 30 that I run at night… (3.5kW x 10hours x $0.10 = $3.50 a night) That is a savings of $9 a day. A few things to note. One the regular AC unit is running in the heat of the day this will cause it to use more energy. On the flip side the Ice Bear is running in the cool of the night. This will cause it to use less energy. Even though the Ice Bear has a 4.3 ton compressor. It could use less energy because of the temperature difference between night ad day. In this example the AC would have never run out of ice until the end of the day. Everything is good. But if the ice did run out then the Ice Bear would have turned on it compressor and started to cool the building. Thus never leaving you without air conditioning.

On a similar train of thought. Think if you had a solar system installed. You would be selling power at peak rates and then buying it back during the cheapest times, middle of the night. This Ice Bear system could actually allow you to install a smaller solar system because of the rate differences. By the way, most power companies love it when you shift your load to an off peak time. Why? because they have excess capacity at night and not enough in the middle of the day. That is what TOU is all about. They want you to change how and when you use electricity. By making it cost more when they can’t generate enough.

Again, this technology is not for me. I have a flat rate structure. I also want a heat pump. This would mean I would have an Ice Bear and a heat pump and that would not make financial sense at all. It will work with heat pump. All they do is place a dedicated heat exchanger in the air handlers air stream. Everything works the same but you can run the heat pump in heating mode.

So, for some of you out there this can save you some serious money! Especially, if you already have solar on your roof.

I am starting to think about winter. (partly because it is so hot) I think I am going to add more insulation to my attic space. I currently have R-38 over most of it. But I only have R-19 over the master bedroom vaulted ceiling. I guess I have the code minimum at the time of installation.

Interesting find from askthebuilder.com

Loose fill blown fiberglass insulation has another slight problem. As the temperature difference between the living space and attic increases, the R-value of blown fiberglass diminishes. In extreme situations, such as the upper Midwest, this reduction in R-value approaches 50 percent.

This phenomena seems to occur as a result of thermal convection. The trapped air molecules in the insulation are pulled up through the insulation into the colder attic air. This problem has been successfully solved by installing fiberglass batt insulation over the top of loose fill or blown insulation.

I live in the Midwest and have blown fiberglass! But seriously, I don’t plan on adding more blown fiberglass. I either have to install batts or have someone else blow in more. I always  think about DIY first. So I think I will wait until one of the big box store has a sale on insulation.

Adding insulation will get you a 30% federal government tax credit. (USA) So I will be adding more insulation this fall.

Duke Energy just lowered the price for purchasing “Green Power”. It used to cost almost twice as much. So, I just enrolled for 500kW hours. It cost me about $10. I will admit, I do feel somewhat better. I would feel much better if I could just make my own power, but this is a step in the right direction.

Why 500kW hours? This has been my target consumption for the start of my energy reduction plan. I keep this target even after installing the hot water heat pump that runs on electricity. Hopefully, my goal is not too far out of reach.

If I have a backup style grid-tie solar system will my inverter start my Air Conditioner? Maybe, just depends on the Air Conditioners LRA rating and the inverter starting capacity. LRA means Locked Rotor Amperage. This is the inrush current that any motor  has when it first starts up. The motor in this case is the compressor.

Here is an example that may e similar to many installations. (This would be what I am thinking of doing in my house anyway.)

Inverter would be a Xantrex XW 6048. It has a LRA surge rating of 52.5 amps. My current air conditioner, I think, is a 2.5 ton AC unit. Since I don’t know the LRA rating I used a new Goodman SEER 13 unit. This unit has a LRA rating of 49 amps.

Yes, the inverter would start the Air Conditioner. Or would it. Remember there are two other fans in a split system. A condenser fan and a blower fan. Both of these have a LRA ratings also. So in the end the chance of starting the entire system is low. Especially since you will have other power users running while the Air Conditioner is trying to turn on.

So I can’t run the entire  house AC unit on the inverter. But can I run a small window unit. Yes, if the unit is 120V this inverter will not have a problem with it. That is because the inverter has a surge rating of 110 amps @ 120V. The house air conditioner was @ 240V.

If you wanted to run a window unit with an off the shelf inverter take the amperage while running and multiple by 7 to estimate the LRA draw. So if the running amps is 5. Then the estimated LRA would be 35 amps. Take the 35 amps x 120V = 4200 Watts. This would be the minimum size surge rating inverter you should buy.

Inverter-Driven Rotary Air Conditioners.

The nice thing about this type of air conditioner is the running amperage is very close to the Locked Rotor Amperage. The inverter in the AC unit starts the compressor out slowly and then ramps up to the desired speed. This means that if your windows unit or your central unit has this newer technology many more DC toAC  inverters will do the job. The Xantrex XW line of inverter should have no issues getting it done. (FWIW – when I upgrade my AC I would like to go with an inverter type heat pump.)

This may seem like a foreign concept to some but let’s think about it. If you try to buy as much food locally you don’t incur all the carbon emissions from shipping to your store. A farmers market is a great way to buy local produce.

I am very lucky, I have a local company that will deliver to my door. Farm Fresh Delivery. I am still looking into it. Since I don’t do the groceries I have to talk my wife into it.  I don’t think I will have a problem, just have to start.

Here is a great example, Apple Juice. The kids love apple juice. The last container of apple juice was made from apples in China. The one before that was made from apples made in Chili. Now I understand that apple don’t grow here during every season. But apples from China?

I also have a local store that has a great meat department. I have heard from the owners son that they always try to get local meat and produce. This year they have had some very testy sweet corn. They also sell buffalo from a local buffalo farm. If you are going to eat meat then buffalo is some of the best.

Just remember, if you purchase a fruit that is out of season it most likely came from the other side of the planet that had to be shipped half way across the globe. That shipping has incured more carbon then you think. Some day I will calculate it out but for now I will try to just buy local and support my local economy.

Did you know that greywater comprises 50-80% of residential wastewater. I would guess that half or more of my water usage in for bathing alone. In terms of gallons, that is at least 2000 gallons.

What is greywater anyway? Greywater is wastewater generated from processes such as dish washing, laundry and bathing. From what I have been read the kitchen sink and dishwasher should be left out of a greywater system because food waste is not something one really wants to get involved with. Trust me, if you were to install a greywater system you will have more then enough water from the other great produces of greywater. (Wash basins, showers and bathtubs, cloths washer)

Lets think more about what greywater is. It is mostly going to be water with small amounts soap and dirt. It will not have food waste (not mine idea of greywater anyway) or any human waste. That would be called blackwater. Anyone that is familiar with RVs knows about blackwater and greywater holding tanks.

The best time to implement a greywater system is during construction. So for me, this is one of those dream house concepts. The only extra costs is installing separate drains for the toilets and kitchen. These flow right into a septic or sewer system. The other drains go into a holding tank to be used for toilet flushing or irrigation. (For toilets, you would have to line a greywater line to that commode.) You would also need a small pump so that you could have water pressure.

Greywater is safe if used correctly. For many homes this could save large amounts of water. For homes with irrigation systems, this would be a great solution to high water bills. If you are on a well, your well pump would run much less. Saving you money in electricity costs. I believe that most new homes should include a greywater system. It just make sense.