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(MSNBC)   California creating zero-energy houses. Amish tap foot and wonder what all the hubbub's about   (msnbc.msn.com) divider line 183
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20846 clicks; posted to Main » on 08 Aug 2005 at 12:03 PM (8 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2005-08-08 07:41:25 AM
Nice to see that developers somewhere have gotten this concept off the ground. I can't find after market photovoltaic cells for my home that will pay themselves off within 10 years.....

Maybe I'm using the wrong search terms in Google.

thanks submitter
 
2005-08-08 08:19:44 AM
Yawn. I'll be impressed when they have zero-point-energy houses.
 
2005-08-08 08:40:52 AM
A suitcase-size tankless hot-water heater in the garage, powered by gas, saves energy by warming water only when the tap is turned on.
Electricity-effecient != zero-energy. Nice idea, and there are some benefits to this kind of thinking when designing homes, but this is not an idea applicable everywhere. Solar homes in, say, Seattle, Washington are not going to be nearly as good on their electric bills...especially not in winter.
Rebates and tax breaks bring the cost down, especially in California, but in many states ZEHs can be prohibitively expensive.
...which means that California is subsidizing this idea.
 
2005-08-08 09:02:19 AM
stevarooni: ...which means that California is subsidizing this idea.

Which, given California's history of power problems, is a good idea. I'm all for gov't subsidies when it helps everyone and not just a select group.
 
2005-08-08 09:32:45 AM
stevarooni: Solar homes in, say, Seattle, Washington are not going to be nearly as good on their electric bills...especially not in winter.

No single alternative will replace oil. Each area will need technology best suited to their respective environments.
 
2005-08-08 11:42:47 AM
JustinCase: Nice to see that developers somewhere have gotten this concept off the ground. I can't find after market photovoltaic cells for my home that will pay themselves off within 10 years.....

I remember reading on Fark a year or two ago about a house in Maine that was the same concept as this. I would LOVE to see more houses with solar energy. Especially when you consider that the most peak times for energy consumption are when everyone turns on their AC, which means it's a bright sunny day.
 
2005-08-08 12:07:39 PM
 
2005-08-08 12:09:39 PM
If their panels create more energy than they use, how can their bill from the electric company be zero? It should be a credit, or a check to them for the amount the electric company is required by law to pay for. In other words, the electric companies are required to purchase your excess energy. Sounds like these people are getting screwed, and the electric company is getting free electricity.
 
2005-08-08 12:11:05 PM
Wow its a solar panel with a fancy name.

These things definately take a long time to pay for themselves. It is still a cool idea and would definately be nice to not have to rely on the power company.

May become a lot more economically feasable in the future as our natural resources dwindle and when we can't build pebble bed reactors fast enough.

As far as ditching incandescent light bulbs, hasn't everyone done that yet?
 
2005-08-08 12:11:42 PM
I woulnd't mind this. But probably it wouldn't work out with a linux server, etc running downstairs + entertainment center upstairs.
 
2005-08-08 12:12:14 PM
I've often thought about alternative sources of energy. In college physics, we were talking about types of energy associated with a moving body (especially a car), and someone asked where all the energy goes. The professor responded that most of it dissipates. I think in this day and age, that might be the saddest thing going (barring Ethopian kids on those infomercials). When you think of all the wind resistant-energy, tire-spinning energy, light energy thats available, you cant help but wonder, "Why are we not tapping into that?" Can someone (preferably someone with physics/engineering know-how) please explain why we cant/arent taking advantage?
 
2005-08-08 12:12:50 PM
 
2005-08-08 12:13:45 PM
osufarker-The article said seven to twelve years for the added cost to pay for itself, which is quite reasonable in a house.
 
2005-08-08 12:13:45 PM
Am I the only one scared by these "related stories" at the right on that page???

Bills reach injury settlement with Brown
Bills win 6th straight over pathetic 49ers
Bledsoe asked to be cut from Bills

I mean come on, this is the best Newsweek.com can do??
 
2005-08-08 12:13:58 PM
Sounds neat, except for the water heater and the fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lighting gives me headaches and hurts my eyes. It's bad bad bad...
Heating the water only when the tap is on can mean getting cold water rather often.

Other than that it seems like a good system. Of course it's not as viable in darker states, such as here in Pittsburgh where there's less than 50 days of sunshine, so they say.
 
2005-08-08 12:13:58 PM
There is ranch in Montana like that all the buildings have photo cell shingles and they also have windmills and get there drinking water from rain/well kinda neat.Those instatn hot water heaters are nice my wifes parents in hong kong have one only bad thing is if you have hard water it clogs the raditor and then not hot water and very low pressure.
 
2005-08-08 12:14:04 PM


doesn't the pic in this article look like a sloppy photoshop entry? throw in the admiral and the hardcore girl, and you've got at least 10 votes.
 
2005-08-08 12:15:23 PM



"Solar power... When will people learn?"
 
2005-08-08 12:15:24 PM
ignoramus:

Because it's tough.
 
2005-08-08 12:16:17 PM
SpacePunk, their rebates and tax breaks are likely the payment they recieve for their extra energy production. You have to figure with the heavy subsidizing this is getting as is, any further payment from the companies using them is overkill.

Besides, it's probably so little a month in raw energy to pay for that it'd cost more to mail and cash the check than it's worth.
 
2005-08-08 12:17:22 PM

If their panels create more energy than they use, how can their bill from the electric company be zero? It should be a credit, or a check to them for the amount the electric company is required by law to pay for. In other words, the electric companies are required to purchase your excess energy. Sounds like these people are getting screwed, and the electric company is getting free electricity.

RTFA
In the summer months the pannels can generate more then the people use, but in the balance of things they still use more electricity then they generate.
 
2005-08-08 12:17:46 PM
ignoramus

Check out regenerative braking.
 
2005-08-08 12:18:26 PM
Sign me up for one of those.
/just put up a clothesline, screw what the neighbors think
 
2005-08-08 12:19:00 PM
Exactly what I was thinking, Sofajockey...
 
2005-08-08 12:19:11 PM
The 'rebates' and 'tax breaks' most likely come out of the taxpayer pocket, and it costs nothing to issue a credit on the account.
 
2005-08-08 12:21:35 PM
Oreochimaru

Thank you. That is exactly the specific, insightful, explanatory answer i was looking for. Seriously though, that was exactly the short, self-serving, moranic answer i expected on Fark.

Typical Fark Response:
1)doesnt address situation in the least
2)crude sexual reference to someones mother
3)lame cliche here
4)flamewar
5)flamewar
6)Boobies... oh yeah, that's i keep coming back...
 
2005-08-08 12:21:38 PM
i wish hydrogen-powered appliances would hit the market at an affordable price soon. the problem with solar power is you are at the mercy of mother nature and have to deal with inverters and have batteries/capacitors.

theoretically, you could have solar cells driving electrolysis, creating and storing hydrogen. your hydrogen powered air conditioner or electrical generator could in theory keep you off the grid.

anyone know more about this?
 
2005-08-08 12:21:53 PM
ChuckRoddy
Check out the new "spiral" flourescent bulbs that fit in a standard bulb socket. They use only about 1/4 the energy of incandescents and they put out almost the same spectrum of light.

I just built a cabin (living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, closet) that only has ONE 15 amp breaker going to it. With these spiral bulbs (10 of them) I have plenty of power, and I even have a microwave and little a/c unit. I've been using the same 20 lb propane cylinder for over a month of 2-3 hot showers a day (I used an RV water heater) and cooking. Need to get the windmill up for FREE power, though.
 
2005-08-08 12:22:49 PM
$18,000 on a house that most likely ran $600K? Big deal, they should make it standard now.

On an aside, I have one of those more efficient gas water heaters, and my gas bill hasn't cleared $20 yet (bought my house in February this year...woohoo!).
 
2005-08-08 12:23:03 PM
"2005-08-08 12:13:45 PM dhambrick

Am I the only one scared by these "related stories" at the right on that page???

Bills reach injury settlement with Brown
Bills win 6th straight over pathetic 49ers
Bledsoe asked to be cut from Bills

I mean come on, this is the best Newsweek.com can do??"

It's keyword sensitive. The retarded Microsoft computer picked up the word "bills" in "electric bills", and then associated it with the Buffalo Bills.
 
2005-08-08 12:23:04 PM
I'd be thrilled to get that type of energy efficient system for $18,000. I just got a quote for a new water heater and the tankless water heaters with installation were running over $3,200 by themselves.
 
2005-08-08 12:23:49 PM
before teh shouting starts, read NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC this month.
 
2005-08-08 12:23:50 PM
stevarooni:

Electricity-effecient != zero-energy. Nice idea, and there are some benefits to this kind of thinking when designing homes, but this is not an idea applicable everywhere. Solar homes in, say, Seattle, Washington are not going to be nearly as good on their electric bills...especially not in winter.


harnessing teen-angst power would be more efficient in seattle...
 
2005-08-08 12:24:26 PM
Sounds like a viable option here in TX. We get lots of sun and I could use the help on the electric bills. I wonder how much it would cost to put photocells on my existing home.
 
2005-08-08 12:24:30 PM
http://www.enocommons.org/
Check out their "Green Technology" link. They go a bit beyond just using solar panels. Looks pretty well planned.
 
2005-08-08 12:24:37 PM
solar panels on my roof? it's bad enough i have to shovel the driveway now i have to climb a ladder and shovel a pitched roof? great.

 
2005-08-08 12:25:27 PM
Ambitwistor

Thanks for the info. Why cant we do more stuff like that? And why arent there more farkers like you?
*These questions are not directed towards anyone in particular*
 
2005-08-08 12:26:20 PM
My parents had solar heating installed back in the early 80's. They weren't nearly as efficient as the furnace then, but it helped reduce their gas bill. Added a usable boost to my sisters room that was the furthest from the furnace. We didn't have to turn the t-stat up to 85 just to heat her room.

There are quite a few houses within a 5 mile radius of me that use solar heating for their pools. Black "radiator" put up on the roof, then plumbed into the pool.
 
2005-08-08 12:26:30 PM
ignoramus:

I've often thought about alternative sources of energy. In college physics, we were talking about types of energy associated with a moving body (especially a car), and someone asked where all the energy goes. The professor responded that most of it dissipates. I think in this day and age, that might be the saddest thing going (barring Ethopian kids on those infomercials). When you think of all the wind resistant-energy, tire-spinning energy, light energy thats available, you cant help but wonder, "Why are we not tapping into that?" Can someone (preferably someone with physics/engineering know-how) please explain why we cant/arent taking advantage?

/is too difficult, not cost efficient enough, there are wind farms all over the country, but they are not nearly as good at producing energy in large quantities as fossil-fuels, nuclear, or even hydro-electric
 
2005-08-08 12:26:35 PM
Rev.Skarekroe: thats pretty damn cool, is it real, if so where is it located?
 
2005-08-08 12:26:50 PM
Wow that CG house looked real. Some day all these radical new technologies might actually become available for people to buy and revolutionize energy crises and pollution problems for America. Until then, I guess I'll just have to drive my Hummer to work at the coal mine. Good thing my Republican congressman is giving big subsidies to the industry to "research" how these things might some day be possible.
 
2005-08-08 12:27:49 PM
Can anyone estimate the energy required to manufacture a solar cell versus the energy that cell is expected to produce over its useful lifetime?
 
2005-08-08 12:28:32 PM
fiestaguy:

There is ranch in Montana like that all the buildings have photo cell shingles and they also have windmills and get there drinking water from rain/well kinda neat.Those instatn hot water heaters are nice my wifes parents in hong kong have one only bad thing is if you have hard water it clogs the raditor and then not hot water and very low pressure.

need a water softener system, which takes more energy and money...
sortof a catch22
 
2005-08-08 12:28:56 PM
ignoramus

No idea how to answer your question, but National Geographic had a pretty good article on the next generation of energy production.

link
 
2005-08-08 12:29:06 PM
I was worried they were gonna be recycling their own water too...
 
2005-08-08 12:29:13 PM
If people paid the actual cost of power, in real time, solar panels would pay for themselves MUCH faster.

Take Ontario (where our idiotic government caps power prices for consumers at 5.8 cents/kwh. But, during PEAK times (ie, during the day), the price of power is often 12 to 14 cents/kwh. During off-peak times (ie, at night), power is often 2 cents/kwh. If instead of paying some stupid average rate consumers were billed for power with real time pricing, solar panels (especially, since they produce peak power during peak demand periods) would be MUCH more econimical.

Solar pansl at 5.8 cents/kwh won't pay for themselves, but at 14 cents/kwh? I think they might.
 
2005-08-08 12:29:44 PM
The Conqueror: solar panels on my roof? it's bad enough i have to shovel the driveway now i have to climb a ladder and shovel a pitched roof? great.

Well, you could always simply use geothermal energy to heat some water for melting the snow on the tiles. It's what some people use to keep their garages warm during the winter.
 
2005-08-08 12:30:30 PM
AllYourBase

Beat me to it by a lot. I'm really slow today.
 
2005-08-08 12:31:37 PM
I got a scription to natl. geo. and second the vote for this months issue. Glad to see someone is putting the info. out there.
 
2005-08-08 12:34:01 PM
Saw a blurb somewhere once that showed (theoretically) that a solar array using current cell efficiencies, installed in AZ or NV in a 10 by 10 mile square area, could generate enough electricity for the entire Western US.
 
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