Monday, February 11, 2008

Save The Planet

With the prospect of remodeling the whole house, I started looking into reducing our carbon footprint. Actually, we've been working on that for the past couple of years by buying CFLs and replacing old appliances with high efficiency versions.

This time though, I started thinking about the biggie, Solar Power. Photovoltaics (PV) are notoriously expensive with payback periods of 30 years or more. Generally not worth it unless you're going to be in the house for a long time, but considering we've been here 10 years and will probably be here another 10 or 20, I've been giving it serious consideration. I started buying issues of HOME POWER to keep track of current technology. I've been intrigued by solar domestic water heating. Like PV, you have panels on the roof, but they circulate a fluid through them. The sun heats up the fluid and that gets transferred to your Hot Water Heater. The best part, a system costing $2000 (excluding installation costs) can deliver 90% of your domestic hot water. The electricity to run our hot water heater costs around $500 per year, so after just 4 years, the hot water would be free. The system could also be used to power a radiant floor which would offset heating costs in the winter, again paying for itself in just a few short years. We're also going to install Solar Tube Lights to provide daylight in closets and bathrooms.

Our goal with the remodel is to reduce our electrical usage by two thirds. If we can meet this goal, then a PV system that meets our remaining energy needs could be within our price range.

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