Saturday, July 3, 2010

2 billion for a solar power plant...really?

Due to some recent events I have not had much time to write but I ran across something that I had to comment on which applies to all three of my blogs. I haven't had much time to research all of the information so forgive me if some of it may not be 100% accurate.

I read today that Obama has awarded nearly $2 billion in conditional grants to a pair of solar energy companies that have pledged to build plants in the United States. You can read the entire story on your favorite news site so I will leave most of it out.

Why are we giving 2 billion dollars to a foreign company to build a solar plant that will take up countless acres of land when the same principle can be applied to each home. You can add a grid-tied PV solar array to your house for around $10,000 that can at least decrease your dependancy on grid provided power. Or in some cases provide enough power that you feed power back into the grid causing your meter to run backwards and generating "credits" that can be sold back to your power company.

Take that same two billion dollars and apply it to homeowners so that they can add these systems to their houses. According to the press release the plant which will create 1,600 temporary jobs and be able to power 70,000 homes, which on the surface sounds great. What happens when those 1,600 jobs are over, and of those how many of them are actually going to pull people out of the unemployment lines. And this brings me to my biggest problem with this plan. This plant is going to provide power for 70,000 homes that means it will cost $28,571 per home and still require the home owners to pay a monthly power bill. If that same money was applied at the homeowner's level then nearly three houses could be powered for the same price as one, no land would be used up, we would see a reduction in our power bills (which is a true economic stimulus) and we would be feeding renewable energy back into the power grid for others to use.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Planning Stage - Goal List

One thing I have not been accused of is being organized. However, I wanted to approach our new house as well thought out and planned as I could. I wrote down a list of goals that I wanted to accomplish with this house. Listed here is that list.

A. Create a Tolkien style Hobbit house.
B. Build a house which we will spend the rest of our lives in.
C. Construct the house underground and take advantage of all efficiencies that style provides.
D. Single level living space
E. Keep house to around 2000 sq ft
F. Full proof waterproofing system to take care of all drainage.
G. Construct house with as little debt as possible.
H. Wire each room to be as electronic and computer friendly as possible.
I. Use the sun to our advantage instead of trying to hide from it.
J. Use Geo-thermal heat pump to aid in heating and cooling house.
K. Use in house planting beds to add flora and fauna to the interior of the house.
L. Use fountains in some walls to circulate cool water to remove humidity from house.
M. Use ground tubes to circulate geo-thermal cooled air throughout the house.
N. Use overhangs in the front of the house to shade summertime sun from windows but allow wintertime sun to enter.
O. Use alternative power source to at least aid in the power needs of the house, if not supply the total needs.
P. Construct a patio out front that includes planter beds which would aid in the shading of the front of the house.
Q. Use Solatubes to “pipe” natural light into the house.
R. Install a cistern to capture rain water for use around the house.
S. Construct a semi-attached garage, possibly use as a back exit/entrance to home.
T. Construct the house to be compliant with state and federal building codes.
U. Design the home so that an easy exit path exists from anywhere in the house in the case of a fire.
V. Design the house so that it can withstand the stresses of its nature.
W. Document and photograph every stage of the construction.

What brought us here.

For a couple years I have been interested in building a house that could take advantage of energy efficient green construction methods and off-the-grid technology, however, convincing your family to begin building a house that is typically unconventional and sometimes extreme, at least in my mind, would prove difficult. So when my wife informed me a few months back that she would love to live in a house like Bilbo Baggins my mind started racing.

Follow us on our journey from living in a "hot-in-the-summer cold-in-the-winter" house that floods every time it rains, right in the middle of a city to an energy efficient earth sheltered house located on a piece of property we haven't purchased yet.