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Tag Archives: money

Our Switch to Solar Saves Thousands

Solar Panels

The Finished System – 38 Panels – 9.5 Kilowatts

Just received our latest electricity bill from Southern California Edison. Our total charges for delivery are $1.77, which is applied to a current credit balance of just over $200.00. Now that we’ve returned to bundled service from SCE, which means we are totally on a net energy metering account, we are consistently producing more energy than we’re consuming. I have been keeping close track of our total expenses since we had net metering fully enabled and I’m projecting we will save approximately $2,000 over last year’s bill. Think about that. This includes the amount we pay each month on the lease of the solar panels which, since we use a lot of energy, is a large system and is more than some people we know ever spend on a month’s worth of energy.

Some of our savings can be attributed to our being a bit more proactive in cooling the house in the evening and morning by opening up the windows and doors, and using an inexpensive box fan to pump the cooler outside air into the house before buttoning up as the temperature rises. Also, we’ve set our thermostat a bit higher in the Summer months, and have learned to be comfortable with an occasional high temp of 78 or even 80 degrees in the house.

Our two biggest expenses in terms of energy consumption are the pump for the swimming pool filter and our old, not terribly efficient air conditioner. We can’t do much about the pool, as we kind of would like to keep it and there’s nothing we can do to change the need to filter and circulate the water. So the pump remains a drain. I have tweaked the timing so it turns on after the Sun has reached an elevation that generates enough electricity to nevertheless keep our meter running backward, and turns off when the Sun is too low to be of much effect.

SCE Bill

A Portion of our October Bill, Showing Net Production.

Actually, during the Summer I experimented with different settings on our thermostat, which ran the gamut from cooling the house early in the day to take advantage of the abundance of solar energy our system was generating, and waiting until the inside temperature reached 78 degrees before switching on the A/C. Thanks to SCE’s online tools, I was able to track performance on an hourly basis and, by paying attention to the vagaries of the weather as well, I was able to fairly accurately determine what settings made the most sense in terms of production and conservation.

Another aspect of our particular situation is where our house sits relative to the path of the Sun. I don’t think we could have planned it any better if we could have picked the entire house up and planted it facing the perfect angle. Prior to installation of our panels, I’m pretty sure our house heated up far more quickly because of its placement. Now, not only do we have the maximum amount of energy produced by the two sets of panels, but I’m reasonably convinced we benefit as well from the fact the panels also shade the roof and absorb a fair amount of the heat energy as well, meaning the house heats up far slower than it used to.

I have to give kudos here to the company that designed and installed our system. They took into consideration our historical usage and the location of the house and the angle of the rooftops relative to the path of the Sun, and designed a system to provide the bulk of our energy needs. In fact, the system is efficient enough to offset whatever energy we use when the Sun is down, e.g. lights (most of which are CFLs, LEDs, and other fluorescents), TV, computers, etc. That company is Real Goods Solar, one of the first to enter the business and one that is local here in SoCal.

All things considered, I’ve concluded this was a very wise choice for us. Not only do we get to play a role in conserving energy, but we also save a rather substantial sum over what we had been paying for our overall electricity costs. I recommend you consider whether your overall energy consumption, coupled with the amount your house can produce based on its location and conditions, warrants the installation of a system. Not every home will benefit, but I’ll wager a considerable number will find the savings worthwhile. I seriously urge you to consider the alternatives.

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Dear everyone who keeps haranguing me to donate, donate, donate!!!

Political Donations

Give! Give! Give! There’s No End to it.

I am well aware the Republicans are threatening to take over the Senate and retain control of the House. I am also well aware that democracy as we think we know it is in danger of going the way of the Dodo bird and the very structure of the universe is threatened.

Unfortunately, I’m kind of stretched real thin and I’ve given about as much as I can for now. Do you want me to take out a second on my home? I receive about a dozen pleas each day, some of them worded so direly as to make me want to vomit.

I can only do so much, even if each one of my $3.00 donations will be tripled. I’d still end up donating a couple hundred dollars each and every week. You know that old saying, “You can’t squeeze dollars out of someone who’s living on a fixed income”, don’t you?

I’ve tried unsubscribing, but each time I sign an online petition about something I really do care about (even if I can’t afford to donate to it) I’m subscribed again because many of them don’t give me the opportunity to opt out. Really. I’m not even a Democrat; you’re too conservative for my tastes, but I am a pragmatist and I will generally vote Democratic. You’re beginning to make me wonder why.

PS – I would definitely vote for Bernie Sanders.

Update!

We have AT&T’s U-verse in our home and The Daily Show doesn’t air until 11:00 pm Mon – Thu, so I record it (along with The Colbert Report) and generally watch the next day. Shortly after I posted this, I went to watch last night’s show and, lo and behold, Jon Stewart addressed this very issue in his opening segment. It’s a great piece, so I’m adding it below in case you haven’t had the opportunity to see it. Unfortunately, I can only find it in two parts. Once again, he nails it and this time he’s skewering the Democrats, who richly deserve every word.

Here’s Part 1

Here’s Part 2


The Right Decision

Recent books

Recent Books on the Creative Economy

Thanks to a respected Facebook friend, I encountered a wonderfully perceptive, entertaining, and enlightening post by Steve Denning on Forbes.com today. Because of my long-time involvement in the knowledge management world, both as a practitioner and somewhat as a thought leader, I also count Steve as one of my Facebook friends. However, I didn’t find the piece through him. Regardless, I’m glad I encountered it and, as a bonus, it really came at a propitious time for me. I’ll link to it at the end of this post. It’s somewhat long, but so full of good information and insight I believe it’s worth every moment it takes to read it.

As I’ve written about numerous times, I took an early retirement from the organization I had pretty happily labored for for over two decades. Actually, five days from now it will be precisely three years since my last day there. It was a bittersweet day for me, as I was both glad to be rid of the constraining shackles of the parent organization and depressed over saying goodbye to so many people I’d come to regard as family.

Adding insult to injury was the seeming invisibility that seems to accompany most everyone who’s put out to pasture. I wrote about that as well here. I have found myself occasionally lamenting my decision, though I always seem to be able to recall there truly was a good reason for it; I couldn’t stand the corporate culture of United Technologies and Pratt & Whitney. I was ready for a change.

Now comes Steve’s wonderful article. To sum it up as briefly as I can – so you can spend your precious time reading what he wrote, which is far better than anything I’m capable of – he breaks down the realities of the three different economies we can see all around us: Traditional, Financial Capitalism, and Creative. I have long been most interested in dealing primarily with the Creative Economy, but spent a large portion of my working life in the Traditional Economy. My experience with Financial Capitalism is much the same as just about everyone else. I’ve lost substantial equity because of their criminal activities and greed.

I’m now more convinced than ever I will spend the rest of my life making a place in the Creative Economy. I want as little a part of the Traditional Economy as possible, though part of what I’ve been working on may require providing creative services to traditional organizations. I will no doubt see how that progresses and am prepared to turn on a dime if necessary. I have no desire at all – never have – to be a part of Finance, save for some of the more creative and worthwhile aspects such as crowdfunding and efforts like Kiva, etc.

Now, to get you to Steve’s article without further ado. The title is “Leadership In The Three-Speed Economy“. If you have the time, I’d love to read what you get out of the piece. Hope you get a lot, regardless.


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