Household energy costs
We recently moved to our new home. The previous owners had just installed solar panels on the roof and had prepaid the lease with the provider for the next 20 years. Edison actually christened the panels while we were in escrow. The size of the array was determined by the annual energy usage of the previous owners; the number of kilowatts provided was meant to zero out their electric bill.
After a few months for Edison to get the accounting up and running, it was clear the panels were doing their job. It was also clear that the previous owners were complete energy hogs. I think they just didn’t realize how wasteful they were. All the lights were incandescent or halogen and all the appliances were old and inefficient. The house has a small pool, and its old 2-hp pump ran for eight or nine hours a day.
We began making upgrades. The lighting is now LED, and the kitchen appliances are now Energy Star. We saved up and just replaced the pool pump with a modern variable-speed design that uses about one-fourth of the energy.
A key point here is that nothing about the lifestyle the house provides has changed; we are in no way compromising our choices. We are simply updating to modern, more efficient things. Things that do the same job (or better) while using a lot less energy.
The house now creates a large surplus of electricity. Our extra power flows back out onto the grid and partially powers the neighbor’s homes. Because today’s meters can measure power flow in both directions, by the end of the year, Edison actually sent us a check! We made money.
There are two points to sum up. One is the obvious — you can save a lot of money by being energy smart. The second point is a little deeper and relates to the solar panels. If the previous owners had made the efficiency updates we did, before they bought the panels, the size of the array would have been a lot smaller. It would have cost them a lot less (and us too because I’m sure the expense factored into the sale price of the home).
We, on paper, now have enough extra capacity to power an electric car for my entire commute (if only they’d come down in price). That would save us an additional $150 a month on gas, not to mention cut out some pollution.
Household energy efficiency is a great road to walk; instead of “paying the man” you put a lot more $ in your own pocket.
This had to be one of the ugliest letters it has ever been my displeasure to read (“Not just homeless,” 1/29). I realize that Justin Markman does not intend to show one ounce of humanity (because it might be “dangerous” to do so?), but this inhumanity is beyond distasteful; it is utterly disgusting. As word has been spread regarding the anniversary of the rescue/release of the surviving victims of Auschwitz, an article like this helps me to understand that still, today, in this country, in this community, there are people who love looking down at people who they consider to be less than themselves. Still, today, man’s inhumanity to man (aside from the obvious terrorists) still roils around in angry, irrational, ugly-minded people. I will not respond to the letter issue by issue; I simply cannot sit by and allow such hideous tirades to go by without objection. That is one of the things that happened in Nazi Germany. I do object.