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View Diary: The future of power generation (188 comments)

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  •  Solar hot water ... (none)
    I faced a similar challenge ... couldn't get myself to put in photovoltaics in the house.  What I've done is put in solar hot water heating -- looks to be roughly an 8-year payoff period based on what I've experienced with then virtually no cost for 10+ years.  

    As well, have looked for small 'solar' items that fit within home requirements sensibilities.  Have put in a solar attic fan to boost the air circulation in my attic and have seen a dramatic drop in the kick-in of the larger fan that is connected to the grid.  Probably not 'cost effective', but a much easier hit to take than a $5-10,000 investment in electrical that would give me perhaps $3-500/year in electricity.

    •  I think your numbers are way off... (none)
      If you use so little electricity that you only spend $500 a year (must not have a pool), then you don't need to spend more than $5-$10K for a system.  And we're talking a 10 year pay off for the low end-- no worse than your solar hot water system or a 20 year pay off for the high end assuming that no further increases in electricity costs occur, which is NOT a good bet.  

      Also, even assuming the 20 year pay off, there's a good chance your system will run fine for 40-50 years.  So in the long run you come out way ahead.  

      In Britain they admit to having royalty. In the United States we pretend we don't have any, and then we elect them president.

      by Asak on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 07:29:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, that's reasonable (none)
        I looked into a system recently and a system that would do about $600/yr in solar would require about 13 year payback, even factoring in a $15,000 rebate from Austin Energy. My site was close to perfect according to the person who came out to survey for the rebate.

        We have lower than average elec rates here, so areas with higher rates would see a faster payback.

        As it is, I buy wind generated electricity for a few cents more than standard so I stayed with that. (My payback was calculated using the higher wind power rates.)

        It could be worse. msaroff could still be living in Texas.

        by George on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 07:52:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Green tags (none)
          Would you have been issued green tags for the system?

          We're having our system installed tomorrow.  Payback based just on utility savings would have taken more then 10 years.  But we're going to be issued 7-8 green tags for the system that we can then sell for approximately $170 per tag annually.  Once that money is factored in, the system winds up paying for itself in a little over six years.

          They're pouring mercury in my orange juice...People take to the streets and scream!!! Jon Stewart, 4/13/05

          by christine in nj on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 08:29:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  You're just about right (none)
        for the system I've been sizing (already have a quote from an installer)...

        $10,300 cost after rebate and tax credits for 3.5kW, projecting to generate $543/year worth of electricity, which works out to 19 years at today's 11 cents a kWh (cheap coal power).  However, when you consider the time value of money, it's actually worse, but as you point out, the cost of electricity is likely to rise which makes it better by some unkown amount.  Electricity may not increase as much as the cost of oil because coal supply is not too closely related to oil, but still, costs can be expected to rise.

        Still, I may still do it.

    •  Similar quandry here... (none)
      I'm looking at a 20 year payback with photovoltaics, even with subsidies (longer because my utility uses cheap coal power).

      A couple of years back, I also considered solar hot water, when my heating system needed replacing.  This can't be counted on as a 100% solution, though, backup is needed.  Also, my situation didn't lend itself well... wrong orientation of the house would mean high rack mounted panels (steep angle optimized for winter), and my home's hot water baseboard system isn't too friendly to solar hot water, because baseboard isn't very effective with moderate water temperatures.  The recommendation was to put in radiant floor heat, but this would require ripping down finished ceilings to install.  Maybe someday.  And I now use so little fuel on hot water, the payback in installing solar for hot water would be limited too.

      With photovoltaics, I could at least use a better-oriented roof on a detached garage but I figured the distance would cut in too much to the efficiency to put a hot water system on this roof.

      In the end, since I needed a new heating system, I went with the most efficient I could find.  I'm very pleased with my Energy Kinetic System 2000.  My system is oil, and with a small house and agressive use of a setback thermostat, I've averaged 208 gallons of oil a year for the 2 years I've had it.  This includes heat and hot water in NY state.  The previous owner used 700.  I had gotten this down to 385 prior to this sytem change with other efficiency improvements, but still I'm pretty pleased with the additional 45% reduction with this.  This puts me in a position of not only using less oil, but cheaper oil, because I can now fill up just once a year, in summer, when it costs less.

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