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That is what they are saying. Personally, I don’t think so but it is hard to find evidence either way. What is a Reverse Cycle Chiller (RCS)?  The product is mainly sold by one vendor, Aqua Products. From what I have gathered, it is a heat pump that is used to heat and cool a water storage tank. This storage tank acts as a buffer so that the heat pump is filling the demand of the water storage tank and not the house thermostat. It is like two separate systems, the heat pump fills the water storage tank with energy and the house takes is away. The biggest advantage to a RCC is that the heat pump is sized to the heating load and not the cooling load. With the water storage tank as a buffer this ensures the heat pump won’t short cycle in the summer.

I was interested in a Heating Fuel Comparison Calculator. This link is for a US federal government spread sheet comparing the different cost of different heating sources. i modified it for the costs that I am likely to pay. The big ones being NG costs and electricity costs. I used 3.8 for Geothermal, water furnace, and 9.7 HSPF for a york heat pump.) Currently, I spend about $19 per million BTU for Natural Gas. For geothermal I would spend $8. For a heat pump I would spend $10. For the 80 million BTUs I used last year it would be, $1520, $640, and $800 respectively.

Now here is the interesting dilemma. If you use the “adjusted HSPF” at the bottom of the spreadsheet you should be using a HSPF of 6.3. This is because the auxiliary heating will be used during the coldest parts of winter. The RCS does not need to use the auxiliary heating nearly as much. How much? I don’t know. But I would guess the RCS would be running the vast majority of the time. If  conventional heat pump auxiliary heating runs for 200 hours a season, then a RCS auxiliary heating would run maybe 30 hours a season. (This is a wild guess but I am thinking of my location and how cold it gets on a regular basis.  Single digits only a few times a year.) If you use the HSPF of 6.3 you get almost $16 a million BTU and 80 million BTU cost you $1280. That would be $480 more than before. I will estimate $900.That is only $300 more a year then a geothermal system. And Geothermal has its own unique design aspects.

Since the RCS is designed for Heating, I have no doubt that it will be able to cool the house during the hottest days of summer. (My current unit has a hard time keeping up.) Additional, I want to have a dual zone system with two separate air handlers. This would be much easier pumping hot or cold water instead of multiple refrigerant lines. As with all of my new and crazy ideas, I have to find someone close to me that does this kind of thing. I need to make a few emails and see what I can dig up. The savings of almost $600 a year make it a very good use of my time. Did I forget to mention that I would save on my cooling too. The SEER rating is 18, my current AC unit is 10.


This has got to be the coolest thing I have seen in a long time. I remember terracycle from a few years ago. They were getting sued by Scotts Miracle-Grow for the colors of there packaging.

Now they have moved into reuse. From drink pouch backpacks to candy wrapper holiday bows. The best thing is that you get paid to send in items for reuse. Well, you don’t get paid but local school do or other charities.

I am not going to go into all the details. Terracycle does a great job with that. All I am going to say is find a brigade and start saving your “trash”.

I currently have the TED 1000. I is very good unit and has served me well. But… in order to log data I have to leave a computer on all the time. This, in turn, uses electricity. I am trying to reduce my usage not increase it. So for the last few months I have not been logging any data. Being an engineer, I like data.

Enter the TED 5000. Plugs into the wall and then plugs into the home network. Perfect for me. But the best part is that you can use it with Google PowerMeter. No more bland TED footprints.

After reading some reviews I may not get the wireless display. Some say it only works a few feet from the gateway. Not very good or useful if you ask me. It only cost $40 but if I have to keep it in an out of the way location, I will keep the $40. Now I just need to shop around for a good price an then wait. (They have been back-ordered since the Google announcement.)

I am going to use this with my heat pump water heater. Since I already had a surge protector and a Kill-a-Watt meter, why not add a timer that does all three.

Kill A Watt GT 4480

I thought it was easy to set up and easy to use. Just like the regular kill-a-watt, it tells me how much electricity I have used and the total time. The nice thing is it has both on the same screen. My current setup is; on all the time for the weekend. Weekdays, on from 2am to 9am and 7pm to 9pm. I think I will tweak this as time goes on but the reason for the early morning is to provide the hottest shower for my wife. (That what she wants and that what she will get)

The three buttons on the top are ON, OFF and Auto. Just like a regular timer would have. Programing is done in 15 minute increments. This device is perfect for what I am doing. Now if my local utility ever does Time Of Use billing I am set.

15 kW may not be small to some but if you are really serious about wind power then that is in the correct range for most people. This wind turbine is owned and operated by Hoosier Energy, Inc. in south central Indiana. Here is a link to the wind turbine website.

Conditions were perfect for this location. The wind was blowing steadily at over 25mph for hours on end.

My observations; The wind starts on the 9th @ 2am, it does not stops until the 10th @ 6pm. Toward the beginning, for almost 18 Hours the turbine appears to be at maximum output. (about 11kW) The turbine is rated @ 15 kW, this would make system losses at almost 25%. Since I don’t know much about the design of the system it is hard to tell what may be contributing to the losses. Remember that when designing for a solar system, total system AC conversion efficiency is on the order of 77% to 80% of rated name plate DC output. If you add the two days together you have over 325 kW hours of electricity from this on major wind event. That would have been over 50% of my electrical needs for the month.

One other thing to note. If the turbine was higher in the air the power produced would have been greater. I read somewhere that, “Placing a turbine on a short tower is like putting solar panels in the shade.”

Where to start? Let’s start with my average water usage. Lasts months water bill came in at 2400 Gallons. This was from the month of November. (No watering outside!) This would be equal to about 80 gallons a day. For a family of four, that is really good! The average water usage in the US per person is about 70 gallons. We are well below that average during the cooler months when I am not water outside. I would like to keep it that way.

Rain water collection, my next spring project. During my Internet research I found a great product. RainXchange. I looks perfect, but has some flaws. #1 cost. for a 3000 gallon system it costs close to $5000. And that is if I install it myself. I don’t think I need a 3000 gallon system but the 1000 gallon system costs about half as much. #2 From what I can tell, the pump must run 24/7. So the money I save from capturing rain water will be chewed up in extra electricity costs. (Note: I am not wanting to do this to save money, but it would be nice!)

Option two, big tank of water. I don’t want one standing next to the house. Just too ugly. I could bury one but that cost money too. (Less then the rainXchange) One idea I had was to half bury a tank in the side of my small hill. But then I have to run a water line over 50 feet to it and add a transfer pump. The last option I have is to purchase a low profile tank and make a raised deck over the top of it. While this sound nice I don’t know about the added costs of the deck.

Moving on to sizing the tank. (I will have to think about location over the next few months.) After looking at my water bills, I figure I need about 3000 gallons “extra” in the summer months. Rarely do we go more than two weeks with out some significant rain fall. he system do not need to be available all the time. I can always use city water.  As an example, I want to water only the front yard. Let’s say it is 2000 square feet. If I need to water it with an inch of water every week then I need about 1200 gallons of water in the middle of a two week dry spell.

No mater which way you slice it. This will cost over $1000. Maybe I should just go back to driving a well? I did do some experimenting with water jetting but that was it. This past summer was a good one for rain so I lost my motivation. But I have plenty of time now to think of new crazy ways to save water.

I read somewhere that these films can damage your windows. But if it means I can delay replacing them for a few more years than it would be worth it. My windows are construction grade windows. My guess is the minimum allowed by law at the time. (Like everything else) So if I can get more usable life from them then I am going to try. I don’t want to spend too much but I also don’t want to buy junk. After reading around on the Internet, I have decided on Gila window film from Lowes.

I will wait a few months, right now I want to sun to warm the house. Hopefully, for about $60, I can reduce the amount of heat gain on the south side of the house. This film will also reduce heat loss. Maybe I will buy a roll now and apply some on the backside windows. As inexpensive as it is, it is worth a try.

According to Gila’s website it is safe for double pane windows.