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I have had Duke Energy’s “Go Green Power” for almost 2 years. I purchase Carbon credits for 500kW hrs a month. In a typical month that is well over 50% of my usage. Lately, it has been bugging me. I feel like I am just giving my money away to Duke Energy. The cost per month is $10 for a yearly total of $120. $120 buys me 6,000 kWhrs of carbon offsets. For simple math purposes I will use 2lbs for every 1kWhr. (Very close BTW) That means my 6,000kWhrs is equal to 12,000lbs. If I were to go to a site like TerraPass that would cost me about $70. Where does the extra $50 go?

Currently, Duke has two trackers on my bill, the clean coal adjustment and the coal gasification adjustment. Beside the fact that they seem to be the same thing to me, they cost me $6 to $10 a month depending on my usage. Duke is already getting my money for something that is supposed to be environmentally friendly. I fell like I am just lining there pockets.

What does Duke do with the Go Green money? They say they buy Green Power. But you and I both know that when you buy in bulk, of anything, you get a better price. So, this leads me to my decision. I am going to cancel my Go Green Power and just buy carbon offset credits myself. For the same cost, I could offset the entire electricity usage for the whole house for the whole year.


Same idea behind Earth day. The level of awareness generated is great. But what about the remaining 364 days?

I try to make everyday Earth Day or Earth Hour. So far I have been able to cut my electric usage by close to 30% and my gas usage by at least 40%. This reduction does not come from the action of one day or hour. But sadly, this is the only way to get the mass media to notice.

So will I turn off my lights? Yes, one hour for the cause is not hard to do. Will I continue to reduce my usage, every day. I enjoy hearing about how high peoples eclectic and gas bills are. Why, because I know that they could do something about it and choose convenience instead. They think I am crazy when I tell them what I have done to reduce my bills. It is not really that difficult. It just takes perseverance. For many, this just does not happen. Example, something like 80% of new years resolutions are broken by January 15th.

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.

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.

Let me just start out by saying that, the current setup saves me money. My POCO (POwer COmpany) is Duke energy.  I don’t have time of use billing. I have a regressive usage setup. The more i use the less I pay for my electricty! This sounds backwards in today’s world. They should be trying to get me to conserve, penalize me for my over consumption.

My Rate Schedule

Connection Charge            $9.40
First 300 kWh                      $0.092945 per kWh
Next 700 kWh                     $0.054178 per kWh
Over 1000 kWh                   $0.044464 per kWh

As you can see, the more I use, the less I pay per kWh. Now let’s look at a PG&E Time of Use billing.

PG&E TOU Billing (I linked to the main page because every year they go up)

Here is a link to the explanation of PG&E’s TOU billing.

After looking at this information, I have no idea how anyone figures out their bill. Seriously, five tiers, baseline percentages, then riders. Forget that. Way to complicated!

Here is Duke Energy again for North Carolina.

I don’t like this one either. Why? They are charging customers for demand! That means your new fancy on-demand electric water heater will cost you big time!

I have searched high and low on the internet for a likable plan. And…

Puget Sound Energy

Very nice! You could change the program on your thermostat. Heat your water at night. Set the dishwasher to come on at 2am. Since I have a deep freeze, I could put a timer on it to only run at night. Heck, With only (2) four hour windows. You could even put a timer on your regular refrigerator. I could even delay the clothes washer!  Then I searched a little more.

Canceled the program!

Customers besieged PSE, calling to complain that the utility’s “time-of-use” program not only wasn’t saving them money but also was costing them slightly more than standard billing programs. So PSE last week asked the state Utilities and Transportation Commission for permission to end the program a year ahead of schedule.

I still like the idea. I think the night rate needs to be very cheap. Say 3 cents a kWhr. If you could save 20% on your electric bill with minimal effort, would you? I think I would.

Typically, conservation of energy goes hand in hand with conservation of money. Sure, your initial cost most likely will be greater. But, the long term monetary gain almost always offsets that. The additional benefit in buying energy saving appliances is they are usually made more durable. Thus, they last longer and need replaced less often. With that said, they need repaired less too. Most newer electrical appliances come with an energy guide yellow tag. Unless you live next door to me, take the big black dollar figure and double it. Why? Because virtually no one pays 10.65 cents per kilowatt hour that’s why. Indiana has some of the cheapest rates in the nation. We burn Coal! With the continued talk about carbon emissions my rate is going to go up too!

Lets look at a few examples.


Side-by-Side refrigerators always use more electricity than a bottom freezer model. Though the door ice and water uses additional energy too.

HVAC System.

Buy the most efficient model you can afford. The new federal mandate for Air Conditioner is Seer 13. To understand what SEER is have a look at this site.  On the site is a very nice life cycle operating cost chart. If you notice the cost basis for the chart is $0.11/kWh. The life of the equipment is assumed to be 12 years. Where do you think rates will be in twelve years?

Standard Electric Tank Water Heater.

These tank water heaters are virtually all the same. What you need to do is buy a water heater blanket. Lowes sells a R10 for only about $20. The water heater blanket could pay for itself in one year!
What we should be on the lookout for are Hot Water Heat Pumps. As much as I think everyone should have a solar hot water heat, including myself, many of us have home owners association that would not be happy about the “appearance” of them on our roofs. (I have not gone down that road yet. But, I may just give in to the next best thing.)

Clothes Washer

Two words – Front Load. They use a fraction of the water that top loads do. Thus, you have to  heat much less water. They also spin the clothes so fast the cloths come out damp and need half the drying time.

Next time you are in the market for a new major appliance, do a little research. You will find that it can pay hefty dividends years down the road.

What does this have to do with solar power? For me, it may have a very big impact. I want to work in the alternative energy industry. If you are reading this, you most likely have a similar desire. You may not act on it, but you have the itch too. Sooooo, how will this election “Change” our alternative outlook?

From his energy speech, the things I like.
• Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.
• Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined
• Put 1 million Plug‐In Hybrid cars – cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon – on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America
• Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025

I will focus on plug-in hybrid cars. Why, because I in live in Indiana. Indiana makes cars and car parts. I know, I have worked for my share of them. The problem is that many have closed and moved out of the US. So how will this be any different then before. It very well may not be but, here in Indiana I have little other choice. Now unless someone builds a solar or windmill manufacturing plant near me I will have to look at making parts for plug-in hybrids. I can do that.

Indiana is not known as a hot bed of alternative energy. As a mater of fact, Indiana get over 95% of its electricity from coal power plants. This has not deterred a small company in the heart of the Midwest. Enter Morton Energy, LLC. For the past few years they have been quietly installing solar panels and windmills across Indiana. This past week they commissioned a Skystream 3.7. The unit is the first wind turbine to be net-metered with Vectren in SW Indiana and should supply approximately 50% of a typical home’s energy needs. Located near the famous “Log Inn” Restaurant, this is sure to be a conversation piece over dinner.

Here is a link to the Evanville Courier Press news article.

From their home page: “DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

If you’re an American thinking about setting up a solar power system in your home, it’s worth checking this out. What’s great is that you can search by state, technology, incentive type, etc. Even if you’re not planning on setting up such a system, it’s interesting to compare what different states are up to.

Efficient conversion of the sun’s energy into human usage will be crucial to maintaining clean energy. Researchers are spending time looking into the photosynthesis mechanisms of cyanobacteria – one of the most ancient organism groups. As research continues for the photosynthesis hack that MIT developed recently, there other pieces of the photosynthesis puzzle that can provide valuable lessons for us.

According to Science Daily there are two avenues of development in process. One is working on genetically engineering real plants and cyanobacteria in order to produce the elements we want – not just oxygen released by photosynthesis, but other fuels such as hydrogen, alcohols, and hydrocarbons. The other direction of research is in line with the MIT discovery, which is mimicking photosynthetic processes in human-made products.

Researchers agree that these two parallels are necessary in the road to renewable energy resources – but we are on our way to a greater understanding of not just how it all works, but how we can emulate the mechanics in our lives.