Mammals and Dinosaurs

5 thoughts on “Mammals and Dinosaurs”

  1. Well, I appreciate your effort. But one room is soothing and the other harsh. My 1918 home had single bulbs hanging by the cord. Don’t want to go back to that.

    1. This was just an experiment to see what was possible. Softer lamps with shades and so on would make a big difference. I’m actually using the LED USB lights in another application that works really well. Blog post to come later today.

  2. As usual, we are on the same wavelength! Totally agree that utility stupidity (futile resistance to the new distributed energy model) is going to push their best paying customers off the grid before these dinosaurs wise up. And energy efficiency can take us as far, if not farther than renewables, in terms of resilience. Deep energy efficiency can lower our national energy usage per capita by more than half. The half that is left is then all the more easily provided by renewables. (This would include most space and water heating by electric heat pump, and most transportation miles by some form of electrified mass transit, plus bicycles/walking, plus limited use of private electric cars. A small amount of fossil fuels might still be used for high heat industrial processes.) Lots of details of how this is possible:

    If utilities weren’t so phenomenally stupid, they would get busy embracing electrification of heating and transportation rather than waste their time fighting rooftop solar since electric heat and transport will drive electricity demand far above what they can currently supply and will keep them busy and rolling in profits. Rooftop solar is vital to the new energy picture because it will massively reduce the need for new transmission lines and other grid infrastructure. Home battery storage will be a huge benefit in balancing the grid.

    The good news is that our current use of fossil fuels in the US is so wasteful (including 66% heat loss in most electricity generation and 80% loss in internal combustion engines) that there are gobs of low hanging fruit all over.

  3. First I find your Blog to be thoughtful, informative and well done. On the subject of energy at home. My wife and I live in a mini passive solar home, powered by a PV solar system that I designed and assembled. We’ve been here over 7 years and live a lifestyle that has progressed to approx. a 90% reduction in green house gas emissions.

    You got it right when you talked about the importance of reducing your energy consumption. After that however you talk about high technology home power systems. Though these are awesome, they are also very expensive, very carbon intensive to build and VERY vulnerable to damage (ie busted doesn’t appear to be working anymore). The technology to build your own mini power plant has been perfected and is now so cheap that almost anyone who can buy a home could buy their own electric utility to go with it.
    That technology is PV solar, combined with a battery bank (old fashioned wet cell lead acid batteries) an inverter (DC – 120VAC) and presto no more electric bills, total self reliance for all electricity and a much lower carbon footprint for one aspect of the individual household carbon budget, the other two parts are transportation and food.

    Best of all PV electricity is highly reliable, when the grid goes down in my area, my little self maintained power plant is still up and running!

    1. I’m not a techno utopian. My primary interest in products like the Tesla Powerwall is about a shift in public policy. Only a new industrial model with real money and political clout can successfully counteract the stronghold legacy utilities have over the legislature. Elon Musk vs. the Koch brothers. Let the ego maniacs arm wrestle each other into some form of detente. Land lines vs. iPhones.

      I’m focused on personal as well as local community resilience and adaptation, not top down economies of scale. To me that means using as little power as possible, making that power at home or nearby, and cutting loose from the coal and nuclear national grid to the degree possible.

      The up front cost of household resilience is higher than just paying a monthly utility bill. But it isn’t any more expensive than a kitchen remodel or luxury car. It’s about priorities. Personally I’ll take Formica counters and a solar battery pack. You can argue this is a middle class indulgence. A philosophical frill. Fair enough. But so are Subzero appliances and Audis and there’s a thriving market for such things.

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