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View Diary: Let's put 'solar panels on every home' say Robert Kennedy Jr. and David Crane (190 comments)

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  •  Solar Collectors Work Well (4+ / 0-)

    Solar collector tubes work well even in cloudy areas. The vacuum tube structure gathers energy even when the weather is cloudy and the temperatures are low. These can be used to preheat water to over a hundred degrees Fahrenheit. They are one of the most cost-effective things in our area.

    The biggest "problem" in our area (Pacific NW) is really that electricity from the grid is relatively cheap because a lot of it is legacy hydroelectric power. But those rates will continue to go up because no more dams are being built (and for good reason).

    Washington has additional solar credits (especially for buying from a local supplier), and that tends to balance out the weather and pricing.

    The important thing is to look for solutions that work for the area you live in. One size definitely does not fit all.

    And, as a first step, it helps to look at ways to cut energy use:

    Check your HVAC. Do you have forced air? Chances are that you can save a lot very cheaply by finding and fixing air leaks.

    Check your building envelop. Even for new construction it can pay to have a blower test to check for air infiltration. Or, you can have someone with a thermal camera examine your place for air leaks (and other problems). It's amazing what you can see with a thermal camera that's hidden to the naked eye.

    Tighten windows. A typical window has an R value of about 3 (in contrast to walls, which, if built well, usually have an R value of 15 or higher). They're like open holes in your walls. Unfortunately, better windows are costly, but you get paid back twice: you save on energy costs and you save the environment.

    Resources

    A good resource is Build It Green, one of the standards organizations for California. They are more focused on homes than the US Green Building Council, so in some ways they are easier to use as a resource, even though their standards are specific to CA. (USGBC has a standard for homes, but their focus is broader and covers green building generally. My friends in the green building industry in CA, however, think GreenPoint Rated, the Build It Green standard, is easier to work with for homeowners.) In Washington there is Built Green, which will give you more specific information for our state.

    You can also see some of our videos about green building at Green Making on YouTube, or more generally the videos on Home Energy Pros (sponsored by the US Dept of Energy).

    If you have any interest in green homes, these resources will get you started!

    •  I've wondered why we couldn't use mirrors in more (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberal Thinking

      norther regions to focus more photons on the collectors.

      Apparently, in sunnier areas this would overheat the photovoltaic causing the efficiency to go down.  And, maybe as the cost of the photovoltaics themselves have dropped so much, perhaps, just having a greater number of panels is just as cost-effective a additional mirrors?

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:52:10 AM PST

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      •  Possible (0+ / 0-)

        I think that's possible, if they are set up properly.

        But I think modern PV technology will overcome this. I believe there was just an article on DK about a new technology that will help with this, but I don't have the reference at the moment!

    •  Great comment. Very helpful. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberal Thinking

      Thanks.

      The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

      by Words In Action on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:54:24 AM PST

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