Solar Power isn't Feasible!

Solar Power isn't Feasible!
This cartoon was on the cover of the book "SolarGas" by David Hoye. It echoes the Sharp Solar slogan "Last time I checked nobody owned the sun!"

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Residential Energy Efficiency 101

Residential Energy Efficiency 101

The following video vignettes first appeared in a training program Frank Di Massa and I developed to instruct electric utility Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) but the information can be used by anyone that wants to learn about home energy efficiency, utility bill reduction and smart shopping for home improvement. The complete PowerPoint presentation contains additional information; for availability please contact Frank at (707)837-0956.

Slide 1: Hot Goes to Cold - Summer
Delta T = Temperature Difference

Slide 2: Winter

Slide 3: CFM In = CFM Out
Exhaust Fans
Fireplace - Natural Convection

Slide 4: Attic Insulation
Depth of Insulation
R-Value (Resistance to Heat Loss) increases with thickness

Slide 5: Insulating Knee Walls

Slide 6: Baffles for Recessed Ceiling Lights

Slide 7: Proper Attic Ventilation

Slide 8: Attic Ventilation Turbines

Slide 9: Weatherstipping and Caulking

Slide 10: Windows & Comfort

Slide 11: Sunlight
Ultraviolet, Visible Spectrum, Infrared

Slide 12: Window Terminology/Performance
U-Value/Heat Loss through window/Low Value is Best

Slide 13: Window Terminology/Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)
Low value means lower cooling requirements

Slide 14: Window Terminology/Visible Light Transmittance (VLT)
Higher is better

Slide 15: Window Terminology/Air Leakage
Cubic Feet/Minute/Square Foot
Lower is better

Slide 16: Efficient Window Have These Features

Slide 17: Shading Windows

Slide 18: Plant a Shade Tree

Slide 19: UV Light Damages Fabrics
High performance windows cut damaging UV rays to nearly zero

Slide 20: Refrigeration Loop

Slide 21: Air Conditioning
High SEER, Proper Sizing and Tight Ducts lead to high performance and savings

Slide 22: Air Conditioning - How it Works

Slide 23: Ducting Basics

Slide 24: Programmable Thermostat can save energy and $s

Slide 25: Use a Room Fan and set TStat lower in the summer

Slide 26: Incandescent versus Compact Fluorescent

Slide 27: Incandescent versus CFL

Slide 28: T8 Linear Fluorescent is more efficient than T12

Slide 29: Refrigerator Energy Use

Slide 30: EnergyStar Refrigerator Saves Money

Slide 31: EnergyStar Refrigerator Makes Sense

Slide 32: Clean Your Refrigerator Coils

Slide 33: Purchase Front Loading Horizontal Axis EnergyStar Model
Saves Water
Leads to less drying time

Slide 34: Laundry - Purchase EnergyStar

Slide 35: EnergyStar Dishwasher - Use Energy Saver Setting

Slide 36: CRT Monitors are Out/LCD are in
Turn it off when its not in use - I do

Slide 37: Solar Pool Heating
Saves Natural Gas and can extend swimming season

Monday, January 29, 2007

Keeping Up with the Greens: Frank's House Episode I: Of Fathers and Suns

Forget keeping up with the Joneses. Try keeping up with the Greens!

This is our entry for the Tree Hugger TV EPIC (Ethical Progressive Intelligent Consumer) video contest. The idea is to show how you walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Frank and I decided to video tape the real progress he has made with his family home in Windsor California, and play him off against a fictional (but all too real) "neighbor" (played by Cairo based T.H. Culhane) who is obsessed by "keeping up with the Joneses" but doesn't quite understand what competing to be eco-friendly is really all about.

With this video Frank and I establish the two main characters who will eventually appear in a full blown series we are in development on called "Keeping up with the Greens: Frank's House" - Frank DiMassa (who will be renamed "Frank Green") a utility consultant and homeowner with a wife and two kids who lives in a "Truman Show" kind of model American surburban enclave that is a manicured, sterile and ecologically tragic landscape that he hates, and Tom Culhane (who will be renamed "Tom Brown"), a man perfectly adapted to the artificial paradise who believes that global warming is part of a "State of Fear" conspiracy concocted by Enviro-wackos and that bigger is always better.

The names Frank Green and Tom Brown go along with our previous instructional video on "The electron pool" where we showed people the difference between "green electrons" and "brown electrons". Frank consumes (and produces!) only "Green Electrons" while Tom consumes massive amounts of purely 'Brown Electrons".

The tension between these two figures and the relationship with their wives and children ultimately creates an optimistic look at how even the most stubborn of American consumers can find ways to compete their way toward cooperation and sustainability.

Computer control of electric appliances

This is another video we did that was embedded in a Powerpoint presentation for utilities back at the turn of the century so they could learn how to use new products for controlling electric appliances from remote computers via the internet. It makes you wonder why there are so many huge office buildings that STILL leave the lights and fans on ALL NIGHT! Another case of the "low adoption of efficient energy technologies" paradox that Avraham Shama and economists Adam Jaffe and Robert Stavins (1994) write about (see "The energy paradox and the diffusion of conservation technolog" for more on this!

Curtailment Control

Check out the ORIGINAL haunting German film "23" (the American remake with Jim Carrey is here, but it seems to be your run of the mill conspiracy theory movie, with nothing about computer hacker power plant curtailment)and then watch our little video (narrated by T.H. Culhane, produced by Frank DiMassa) which shows how today we actually can control big power plants and the flow of electrons to homes and businesses from a laptop computer.

We at Solar C.I.T.I.E.S. are somewhat ambivalent about this capability -- on the one hand we think it is very good that lights and heating and air conditioning in a distant location can be turned off from a laptop computer. Imagine you were responsible for not just a home, but an entire business or factory, and you left for a distant trip without turning off the boiler or the AC. It could not only be extremely or wasteful, but catastrophic. On the other hand it calls to mind films such as "Total Recall", (where the dictatorial CEO of the Martian mining colony decides to shut off the air supply to all his citizens so they won't rebel), to say nothing of the thriller "23". Also, our work trying to foster peace and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians is often hampered by the issue of who controls the electricity and water; the exploitation of control over these basic amenities is used as a tool of both power and terror.

We can offer few solutions other than to hope that citizens in democracies not only become aware of how technologies of control can be used, but empower themselves with oversight capabilities so that the desire for control can not get... out of control!

The music to this video is our song "Keep it real" which we composed after a visit to the Solfest '99 at Real Goods Solar Living Center in Hopland. There we had the chance to meet and interview Ed Begley Jr. and get inspired by all the solar powered music going on at the festival. We wrote lyrics to our song such as -- "Real is the sunshine, and real is the rain; real are the windstreams that blow on the plains; II want the real goods, real deal..." and intended to create one of our "Melodic-Mnemonics" about how renewable energy is the only real energy, the rest is a dangerous and unsustainable detour that will appear as a mere blip in human history; we decided to repurpose the music for a bunch of our utility videos, so you'll hear it in a bunch of our work.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Summer Savings

Each summer when Frank DiMassa and I would set out to do another video there would be new exciting rebates from Roseville to tell the public about! We could take the same structure and plug in the new information. This starts out like the last video, but shows a long-haired Frank installing new energy saving ideas into his home. What was great was that as we made the videos Frank would literally transform his house into a more energy efficient place to live and reduce his carbon footprint. Now "Frank's House" (the title of our upcoming documentary) is supplied by photovoltaic power and uses all the latest energystar appliances. He hardly contributes to Global Warming at all!

Roseville Rebates

The turn of the century was a good time for Northern California Energy Consumers thanks to the visionaries at Roseville Electric. Here you had a utility company that really wanted you to USE LESS ELECTRICITY! They knew that since demand was growing in California it would be a win-win for us all engage in what they called "Peak Load Shaving" -- using conservation and renewable energy to offset the peak loads that cause blackouts and brownouts and cost the state millions in lost revenue. Let us hope that during these dire times other utilities catch the green fever that Roseville was so good at promoting!

High Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER)

When we made this video, back in the Clinton days, we knew that merely by replacing appliances with more efficient ones could eliminate our need for foreign oil and nuclear power. Roseville Electric was leading the way, campaigning for people to buy the best, most energy conserving items on the market to help drive development of even more efficient models. Yes America, we could have consumed our way off of dirty power! We still can. Make sure you check out the SEER ratings of everything you buy!

Another Hot Summer in Roseville

This was the first commercial Frank DiMassa and T.H. Culhane produced for Roseville electric, where T.H. established the character of Joe Roseville (who would later turn into a Ray Favata drawn cartoon and fly around California with Benjamin Franklin in "Ben and Joe's Electric Adventure". Disclaimer: Don't call Roseville Electric asking for rebates (the program was back at the turn of the century!) but DO follow their wonderful energy saving tips!

Roseville's Green Earth Day Promotion

This is an old commercial created by T.H. Culhane and Frank DiMassa about an Earth day festival given by Roseville Electric Utility in Northern California (don't bother going to the festival though, that earth day is long over! :)) At the festival guitarist Peter Padua, and drummer Stephen Cass (both part of the Circus Guy Musical Goodwill Ambassador Program) joined T.H. on a solar powered stage, singing "solar music."

10 + 10

This is an old commercial created by T.H. Culhane and Frank DiMassa about a rebate program for energy savings that Roseville Electric Utility in Northern California was offering (don't bother calling them, though, that rebate program is long over! :)) T.H. appears as the character "Joe Roseville".

The Future is Here

"The Future is Here, The Future is Now" is a song that T.H. Culhane and Frank DiMassa created for their renewable energy educational campaigns. The song was taken on the road by the Circus Guy Musical Goodwill Ambassador program (performed by T.H., Mike and Andrew Culhane, Anais Mitchell, Ted Stern, Greg Ross, James Dean Conklin and Frank Marino) and performed in a series of solar and wind powered concerts at the Wadi Environmental Science Center in Egypt and throughout the country with the U.S. State Department Cultural Affairs Program. It was then performed in Kuwait during a series of tours that culminated with its performance for the Sabah family children (kids of the oil sheikhs) and their classmates in the Imax Theatre at the Kuwati Science Center. It was recently performed on KPFK radio's "Healthy Me, Healthy Planet" hosted by Sherry Beale.

Ben and Joe's Electric Adventure, Part II

In this second half of this educational video, Benjamin Franklin and Joe Roseville visit a hydroelectric plant, a geothermal plant and houses with solar roofs, including the giant "Real Goods" solar array in Hopland California.

Ben and Joe's Electric Adventure, Part I

In this live action/animated educational video, which we produced for the Roseville Electric Utility, Benjamin Franklin comes to the present and takes solar electric technician Joe Roseville on a magical kite ride to visit California's renewable energy generation sites. In Part I we learn about the generation of electricity visit Windfarms. The voices of Ben and Joe were created by T.H. Culhane, written and shot by T.H. Culhane and Frank DiMassa, edited by T.H. Culhane, music by T.H. Culhane and Frank DiMassa, produced by Frank DiMassa, animation by Ray Favata and Michael Favata.

Geothermal Energy: I'ts Hot!

Produced by Frank DiMassa and T.H. Culhane (narrated by T.H.), this video explains the benefits of the greatest source of untapped, practical clean energy in the world. This is the energy source Kryon recommends!

The Electron Pool: the choice between clean vs. dirty electrons entering your home

This is a video Frank DiMassa and T.H. Culhane produced when Roseville Electric company in California was educating people about their great incentives programs for people to switch to green energy. It explains the difference between "clean" electrons from renewable sources and "dirty" electrons from fossil fuel and nuclear sources.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

All about inverters

This video, produced by Frank DiMassa and T.H. Culhane, shows how inverters work to turn solar (or wind) DC electricity into house current (AC electricity).

(credits: music, videography, editing, graphics: T.H. Culhane and Frank Dimassa. Narrated by T.H. Culhane)

A million solar roofs

Frank DiMassa and I produced this back when the Clinton administration was pushing this initiative. It is more relevant now than ever, and since making it Frank and I both covered our roofs with photovoltaic panels.