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July 2nd, 2008


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02:31 pm
I'm a bit of a green energy freak, I've tried to keep it quiet though. (What would the neighbors think?) I suspect that since we own our own place and I now have the ability to affect such changes, I'll be a lot less quiet on that front in the future, just fyi. If you want to opt-out of such lefty communist rantings just let me know and I'll make a filter for it.

I just signed up for NStar electric and gas service at the new house (!) and noticed that they have a full 100% wind power option available for only 1.5 cents per kwh over their standard service. ($.14/kwh instead of $.125). Total no brainer in my mind.
If you're an NStar customer with an account in good standing you can have them switch you over to full wind power. Clicky.

Step one towards full eco-friendly housing complete.
(And in 4 years when our water heater needs replacing we're totally getting an on-demand heater, but that'll be another post.)
mood: calmcalm

(27 bits of drivel | babble incoherently)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:geekpixie
Date:July 2nd, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I got that announcement from them in one of my e-bill statements, pretty cool :)
[User Picture]
From:dreams_of_wings
Date:July 2nd, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
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Hi hi!
I added you as a friend, just FYI. :)

Isn't the wind-power thing cool? One of these days I want to live in a house with a geo-thermal heating system.
[User Picture]
From:inahandbasket
Date:July 2nd, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
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Yup yup, added you back.

That'd be super neato, my parents almost installed one about 10 years ago but didn't due to some technical rural snafus. The technology has matured a lot since then though, someone the other day (Rowan?) was mentioning that they could cool their entire house just with the ground area under the sidewalk out front.
[User Picture]
From:squidproquo
Date:July 2nd, 2008 07:16 pm (UTC)
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I'm totally a green energy freak as well, but don't know much more than the general concept of geothermal. Question: if you're using the temp differential to cool your house, don't you end up heating the soil? By how much? I've read about the effects of global warming temp rises on soil/microbe/plant communities, and of course if the ground in question is under a sidewalk the impact would be minimal, but I'm curious...

BTW I'm TOTALLY doing that NStar thing--thank you for posting about it since I never read the extras they put in with my statement.
[User Picture]
From:inahandbasket
Date:July 2nd, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
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wikipedia's got a good article on it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_exchange_heat_pump
The best way is to drill straight down about 200ft, that way you're barely affecting anything eco-wise. It's a bit more expensive to do it that way though. ^_^
[User Picture]
From:why_style
Date:July 2nd, 2008 07:48 pm (UTC)
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i think that's awesome, and i'd love to hear all about you socialist green adventures. we're hoping to be moving into our own place, also probably a condo, in about a year *fingers crossed* and i think it's something we'll explore once we have the power (...what the hell, pun intended...) so i'd love to hear about what changes you're able to make and how they work out.
[User Picture]
From:inahandbasket
Date:July 2nd, 2008 07:56 pm (UTC)
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I'll definitely keep it up then.
Hmm, I'll need an icon... *scheemes*
[User Picture]
From:cos
Date:July 2nd, 2008 07:48 pm (UTC)
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Last year at Solarfest I attended a home energy efficiency workshop run buy a local business owner. He installs solar power for people's residences. But he spent the first 5-10 minutes of the workshop bluntly getting through to us, with numbers and charts and everything, that it was pointless to even think about installing solar, or wind, or anything like that, until we've first made basic efficiency improvements to the house to save on heating, cooling, and cut down excess electricity use. He then spent the rest of the workshop on how to do that, and no time at all on solar (even though that's his business), which only brought the lesson home further.

The most important thing, he said, was to have your house inspected by someone for the air envelope (I forget if that's the right term) : what "holes" are there in the insulated virtual container that keeps hotter or colder air inside? Sometimes it's a porch or an attic, sometimes it's bad insulation in a wall, or holes that were cut by some utility like cable TV, sometimes it's bad windows or windowframes. Fixing these things can save a lot more power in an average year than solar panels or similar things would generate for you, and generally costs a lot less too.

One nifty, obvious yet I hadn't thought of it, tip he gave that I've been using ever since:
given that: "wall warts" for electronic equpiment suck some power even when the device is off,
and that: it's too annoying to constantly unplug and re-plug all of them,
do this: Plug the ones you frequently turn off together, into their own power strip that has a switch. When you're not using them, switch that power strip off.

I do that for all my computer stuff (external drives, usb hub, speakers, etc.) now, so I can turn off that strip whenever I don't have the actual MacBook connected and in use, like when I leave the house for work of a trip.
[User Picture]
From:why_style
Date:July 2nd, 2008 07:53 pm (UTC)
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cool tip. i have all of my computer stuff plugged into 2 power strips which i generally switch off when i'm going to be away for awhile, but do you also need to unplug the power strips from the wall?
[User Picture]
From:inahandbasket
Date:July 2nd, 2008 07:55 pm (UTC)
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Nope. If you kill the switch the electrons stop at the switch so there's nowhere to leak.
[User Picture]
From:why_style
Date:July 2nd, 2008 07:58 pm (UTC)
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cool, thanks.
[User Picture]
From:inahandbasket
Date:July 2nd, 2008 07:55 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, the little things really add up, it's true. When I wire everything up at the new place I'm definitely going to be doing it with an eye towards efficiency. I'm also considering ditching my desktop for the most part and using a laptop more. Sadly (snerk) that'll mean getting an apple, as WinXP is painfully slow coming out of hibernation in comparison to OSX.

Our current apartment is so inefficient it appalls me, which was honestly one of the (many) drivers for getting our own place. We can actually make changes now! Sadly it's not a single-family, so it'll be somewhat limited I'm guessing. The roof needs replacement in 2-3 years though, maybe there will be viable solar shingles on the market by then...
[User Picture]
From:wanderyng1
Date:July 2nd, 2008 10:08 pm (UTC)
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that'll mean getting an apple, as WinXP is painfully slow coming out of hibernation in comparison to OSX.
*cough*Linux*cough cough*

:)
[User Picture]
From:inahandbasket
Date:July 2nd, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC)
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hush!
I'll just HAVE to get a macboook pro...
[User Picture]
From:miss_chance
Date:July 2nd, 2008 09:54 pm (UTC)
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I'm confused about the economics of this wind power option. I want to believe this is a good thing, because if it is, then no-brainer, sign me up! But I feel like I need more information. I'm hoping that since you're a self-pronounced green energy freak :) you might be able to clarify some things that are nagging on my mind about this, so I can get psyched about it, too.

It looks from the website as if NStar is buying power from two wind generating plants out of state. The critical part of me wants to know if they would be buying power from these additional suppliers anyway. Does NStar actually change how much of their own power they generate by coal and nukes based on how many people sign up for this? Does NStar operate in the markets where this power is generated in upstate NY and Maine? (and if not, is there a lossyness of energy transmission that has to be considered?) I find myself wondering if they might be buying this power anyway, and this could be an opportunity to do an end-run around regulatory measures regarding power rates by having ecologically minded people support their business-as-usual by paying a premium for something that they are doing by necessity anyway?

One thing I don't know is how variable the power-generation system is. At some point I had come to believe they were operating at or near capacity, at least in the summers (hence the rolling black-outs in densely populated areas). If this is the case, it would seem to me that if no one, or if thousands of people, sign up to pay extra for wind-power, they might still be buying it from other suppliers either way.

Perhaps they might be buying from other coal and nuke plants and are using this as a metric to determine public support for (plausibly more expensive) wind power and give them customer-counts to wave in front of legislature when looking for permission to build new wind plants? If it has use for the latter, it would still have some monetary value in my book, and might be an efficient way to fund regulatory support for wind power.

Tell me more?
[User Picture]
From:inahandbasket
Date:July 2nd, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
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This article has a decent writeup on it...
http://www.bostonherald.com/business/general/view.bg?articleid=1103877

To some extent the entire electrical grid is a bit of a shell game. There's no way to guarantee the origin of your electrons as the entire thing across the country is tied together. Power generators (coal/nuke/wind/solar/wave/hamster) tap into the grid lines not very differently than your house does, but they're pushing into the grid instead of pulling. If you install solar panels on your roof and tie into the grid, you can actually push into it as well (depending on the setup) just as if you were a miniature 3-mile island. So even if you're paying for coal power, some of your electrons might be coming from your neighbor with the solar panels on the roof.

What you're doing by paying a bit extra for wind is mostly supporting their choice by subsidizing the increased distribution and implementation costs (wind is actually still slightly more costly than coal, mostly due to the cost of implementing new technologies versus old established ones (explained a bit here)), and also giving them customer counts to wave for the legislature for future additions to the grid.
[User Picture]
From:krank_kether
Date:July 3rd, 2008 02:39 am (UTC)
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omfg on-demand water heaters RULE! less energy, less water, and ENDLESS HOT WATER! another no-brainer lol :oP
[User Picture]
From:inahandbasket
Date:July 3rd, 2008 01:52 pm (UTC)
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Yes, they do. ^_^
My parents put one in their house when the built it (when I was three) so I grew up with one. The first time I was confronted with using all the hot water in a tank I was totally confused and had to have the concept explained to me. All I could think was "that's a dumb way to heat water..."
[User Picture]
From:moominmolly
Date:July 9th, 2008 06:58 pm (UTC)
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Hah, ditto. I'm still confounded by that!

Also, hello, I have no idea why I hadn't friended you before just now. Hello!
[User Picture]
From:inahandbasket
Date:July 9th, 2008 07:25 pm (UTC)
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so you DON'T secretly hate me... I was so convinced!
;-)
[User Picture]
From:rainbow_spork
Date:July 3rd, 2008 03:04 am (UTC)
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Dude, I totally didn't know that about NStar. I must go investigate.

But the real reason I'm commenting is to tell you that you should totally be reading EcoGeek. (Yes, yes, I only know about this because it's from Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers/Brotherhood 2.0. Shut up. It's a great blog.) It's also syndicated to LJ here: http://syndicated.livejournal.com/ecogeek_org/

Edited at 2008-07-03 03:06 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:inahandbasket
Date:July 3rd, 2008 01:51 pm (UTC)
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added to my daily reading...
I need to hunt down a bunch of green blogs for reading, I know prosicated has a bunch of them already in her queue.
From:9mm
Date:July 3rd, 2008 01:40 pm (UTC)
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Kick ass!
This book makes a handy reference guide ( and comes in the electronic version if you are so inclined ).
[User Picture]
From:inahandbasket
Date:July 3rd, 2008 01:50 pm (UTC)
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sweet, thanks for the heads up!
wouldn't arrive till tuesday, I'll see if I can hunt down a copy locally.
[User Picture]
From:drwex
Date:July 3rd, 2008 03:36 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the pointer - I sent in the card when they first mailed us about it but forgot and never heard back. I just did the online sign-up thing; let's see if that has more tangible results.
[User Picture]
From:albionwood
Date:July 3rd, 2008 09:37 pm (UTC)
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Anybody who doesn't want to read about green energy options is a great fool, IMO. We all need to examine the options and work out the details. I have more questions than answers... For example, why does wind power cost more? And why do we have to specify if we want "green" power sources - but not if we want, say, nuclear or coal?
[User Picture]
From:swaan
Date:July 3rd, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC)
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Um, okay, a) thanks for the heads up on wind power with NStar. An aside: I got something in the mail from Keyspan trying to get my business and threw it away (in the recycling I'm going to have to bring with me back to Boston because there IS NONE in the stupid rooming house I'm staying in, but I digress) because they started off with, "Can you imagine if your central air conditioning suddenly stopped working?"

and b) I had no idea there were on-demand water heaters you could hook into entire home systems that didn't require lighting pilot lights (like in my Spanish host family's apartment) and actually heated the water sufficiently (unlike the shower units in Kenya that were perpetually broken). Perhaps one is in my future as well...

Finally, keep me on your green rant list, even if it makes me feel a wee bit guilty at times.
I'm a bit of a green energy freak, I've tried to keep it quiet… - another LJ. or: how i learned to stop worrying and love this life-thingy

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