Carbon Footprint Challenge

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davew
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Suppose a chunk of money fell into your lap and you wanted to spend it on something to reduce your carbon footprint. Let's pick a reasonable figure like US$20k. Maybe Neptune appears behind you, hands you a check, holds his trident to your head, and says you have to spend it to better the planet within a year or you'll be able to whistle three notes at the time for the rest of your life. Suppose further that you already have the best EVs that will fit into your garage.

What would you spend it on? Bear in mind the overall goal is lowering your carbon footprint. I suppose the answer is partially individual, but I'm looking for new ideas. What I've come up with so far:

- Solar. Hot water? Electricity? Both? I'm hesitant to go with this soon because amorphous photovoltaic's are a quantum improvement in price/performance, but they won't be available for a year or two. Maybe something other than PV? Other than hot water I don't know of anything like this for home use.

- More efficient heating? I'm currently using natural gas which is hideously non-renewable. I was considering going with direct exchange geothermal (assuming I even have enough room in my yard for a vertical system). This should be much more efficient than gas and switch the energy source to electricity which theoretically could be renewable.

- Better insulation? I've got 6-inch walls and decent windows. Still I know bugger-all about R-values. I've considered hiring a pro to see if there is anything I've missed that would make a significant difference.

- Donate it? This opens up a huge can of worms. I wouldn't know where to start. Our utility company will accept such donation which they will spend to help someone improve their efficiency or just pay their utility bill, but the donor does not get to pick which.

My problem is it fairly easy to find experts in each area, but few are willing to consider the whole problem on a most bang for the buck basis.

--
Oh, yeah, one followup. Anyone know an easy way to get $20? :-)

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Alias
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Re: Carbon Footprint Challenge

davew wrote

Quote:

Suppose a chunk of money fell into your lap and you wanted to spend it on something to reduce your carbon footprint. Let's pick a reasonable figure like US$20k. Maybe Neptune appears behind you, hands you a check, holds his trident to your head, and says you have to spend it to better the planet within a year

To be honest if a chunk of money fell into my lap and I had to use this to better the planet well Hmmmm,
I have lots of ideas and one of them I would love to purchase a new or used Mini cooper and convert it to electric
Yup rip out the ICE guts and hire folks who would know what they are doing as I would love to take part in it
However that would probably go over my budget.
Or I wouldn't even mind taking the ICE guts in my Honda and convert it to electric but I want the same amount of
horsepower and range as it has now, Hmmmm?????? :? I know I am daydreaming on that but is it possible??

Quote:

Oh, yeah, one followup. Anyone know an easy way to get $20k?

(exaggerating) Well what about robbing an armored car???? (Not exaggerating) used to work for armored car companies and I could probably figure out how to do it hehhehe. 8) --->very bad girl going to the corner now

spinningmagnets
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Re: Carbon Footprint Challenge

Over at otherpower.com, there is a very practical interest in reducing your electrical use. If you move to the country and then spend $20K on windmills, solar PV, and a large expensive battery, you find out its MUCH cheaper to cut your use in half instead of doubling the size of your battery and power collection system.

Crunching the actual numbers, you're forced to admit that grid electricity is actually pretty cheap, (spend $20K to save $100 a month) although it does make you a slave to the infrastructure.

As E-Bikers know too well, if you discharge your batteries too deeply, plate erosion during recharge significantly reduces battery life, so having a battery thats twice as big, might actually give you 4 times the (expensive) life.

Its funny when you say you've switched to CFL lights and somebody says "yeah, but the electricity still comes from coal" as if using 5 times the electricity with filament bulbs is still OK. Get CFL's anyway.

Switch your TV to a Sharp Aquos LCD and adjust the backlighting down (get the smallest size you can be happy with)

Use a laptop instead of a desktop computer whenever possible.

Electric stoves, electric clothes dryers, and central A/C are horrible watt-hogs. Use gas when possible, and reduce cooling needs with awnings on the south side and attic flow-through fans.

Use an E-Bike whenever possible (preaching to the converted), train instead of a plane, 4-cylinder diesel able to use WVO when available instead of a V8 gasoline.

Any money left over? convert E-bikes and E-motorcycles and sell them at cost, to make them more visible.

I read somewhere, something like..."we must be the change we want to see" (or some such glib philosophical snippet) and I think there's some truth to that! Hmmm...join a forum of like minded individuals and compare ideas...pose interesting, well-thought out, and speculative questions to get a discussion going...

Alias
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Re: Carbon Footprint Challenge

davew wrote

Quote:

Solar. Hot water? Electricity? Both?

I found this comparison chart online http://www.bluenergyusa.com/SWT_Comparison.html

spinningmagnets
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Re: Carbon Footprint Challenge

Solar hot water pre-heater, cheap and easy to make from junk. Warm water takes less energy to heat than cold water.

And also...EAT LESS BEEF! (sponsored by the US chicken ranchers awareness council)

ArcticFox
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Re: Carbon Footprint Challenge

spinningmagnets wrote:

And also...EAT LESS BEEF! (sponsored by the US chicken ranchers awareness council)

Yeay! Just say "NO" to beef!

And solar water pre-heaters are the bomb! So many designs, so simple to make.

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chas_stevenson
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Re: Carbon Footprint Challenge

I use a propane on demand hot water heater, with an electronic ignition system which runs on 2 D cell batteries. I have to replace the batteries about once every 10 months. When you turn on the hot water the unit comes on and heats the water you want to use. When the hot water is off no fuel is being used to heat any water. The best part is as long as you have propane and water to feed the unit you have hot water coming out. This means multiple showers or looooonnnnggg showers are no problem.

Chas S.

The on demand hot water units use 20% less fuel than a standard hot water heater.

spinningmagnets
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Re: Carbon Footprint Challenge

Apparently, cows belch a lot of methane (I'm told)

Vertical geothermal "earth tubes" used for pre-heating (in subzero) or cooling in summer are hideously expensive. Horizontal trenches aren't too expensive if you rent a backhoe and do it yourself (and have the acreage).

Over 100 good ideas over at "builditsolar.com" (so much more than solar), and also otherpower.com. (because) Reducing your heating and cooling loads dramatically reduces the size of your otherpower needs (wind-gen/solar PV)

If you build a house from scratch, you can make it completely passive solar heat (for a small premium) and still be fairly normal looking, but an existing house?...for the few months of cool weather, you can drag out some cheap homemade solar heat panels like this

http://www.theworkshop.ca/energy/collector/collector.htm

If it cuts your methane heat costs in half, well worth scrounging half the junk, and spending some effort and a few bucks.

I cut my summer cooling bills in half by stapling cloth onto the south eaves for wall shading, and also installing an attic evacuation fan. Thermostat controlled, also with an off switch because even in the 6 cool months the attic can get warm enough to kick on when not actually needed.

If you can't use a clothes line for drying all your clothes, at least hang your jeans up to air dry?...

davew
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Re: Carbon Footprint Challenge

Quote:

Apparently, cows belch a lot of methane (I'm told)

Yup. And kangaroos belch CO2. I just had to throw that in.

Quote:

Vertical geothermal "earth tubes" used for pre-heating (in subzero) or cooling in summer are hideously expensive.

Where do you think that $20k number came from? :-) I figure it might pay for itself in 20 years. I am willing to think in these time scales, but I am also willing to consider that it might not be the investment with the largest impact.

Quote:

If it cuts your methane heat costs in half, well worth scrounging half the junk, and spending some effort and a few bucks.

Thanks I will check into this.

Quote:

I cut my summer cooling bills in half by stapling cloth onto the south eaves for wall shading, and also installing an attic evacuation fan.

I like these ideas, too. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) my cooling costs are zero or very close to it. We are blessed with a mile of altitude and the climate that comes with it. Usually we just leave the windows open at night (to hear the drone of our wussier neighbors air conditioners) sometimes assisted by a whole house fan.

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davew
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Re: Carbon Footprint Challenge

chas_stevenson wrote:

I use a propane on demand hot water heater, with an electronic ignition system which runs on 2 D cell batteries.

I've been thinking about this, too. I'd probably go electric rather than propane, but the idea is the same. My guess is that ordinary hot water heaters do a more efficient job of transferring energy to the water because they are not trying to do it so quickly. They lose efficiency because they are trying to keep a large tank of water hot. I wish I knew how to calculate which was the more efficient total system.

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davew
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Re: Carbon Footprint Challenge

Thanks for the ideas one and all! I have much more research to do now.

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