Learn to Conserve by John Brough


by John Broughton, Equator Industries

 

One of the biggest problems facing a renewable energy systems designer is optimization of the client's loads. When a designer refers to the load, he/she is referring to the maximum power that will be required at any time by the client, and the duration of time required maintaining that load. These two concepts greatly affect the feasibility of a renewable energy system. Therefore, it is important to understand where you use your energy, and how to use it wisely.

 

The typical 2000 square foot residential house connected to the grid, consumes between 1500kWh and 2000kWh per month. That equates to a monthly power bill of nearly $150 dollars a month (1750kWhours x .085 cent/kWh=150$/month). Sound familiar? It should, because it is probably close to what you pay on your light bill right now!

 

Delving a little deeper, we see that the typical consumers usage pattern can be broken down into 9 basic categories.

 

Cooling

33%

$ 49.50

Refrigeration

15%

$ 22.50

Hot water

14%

$ 21.00

Space heating

10%

$ 15.00

Pool pump

10%

$ 15.00

Lighting

5%

$  7.50

Cooking

4%

$  6.00

Clothes drying

3%

$  4.50

Other

6%

$  9.00
Totals      100% $150.00 per month

 

Now considering that 1kW of photovoltaic power will cost approximately $15,000 / kW installed, any kW in load reduction will help reduce the cost of the project.

 

Since Cooling and Refrigeration are the largest consumers by category and one of the easiest things to make adjustments to, you should  research alternative ways to stay cool. If you are lucky enough to be building a new home, pay close attention to the siting and orientation of the home. If you are looking to conserve, research ventilation, ceiling fans, shades, etc…

 

Next, believe it or not, hot water. This is a simple one, go solar. It is always advisable to buy a dual looped water heater for redundancy. In the long run you will stay with the solar once you see the savings. However it is always nice to have the redundancy.

 

Then come all those peripherals. TV's, microwaves, refrigerator, computers and more. With these items it is important to do some research and purchase good quality equipment with low energy consumption ratings. The government has imposed certain laws requiring manufacturers to manufacture energy efficient equipment, these are Energy Star items, and so be aware they are out there.

 

In summary if you want to have a renewable energy system you need to learn to conserve well in advance of buying the system. Play with your electrical consumption today and watch how it affects those bills. Get a feeling for what is necessity, and what is not. This way when the time comes to convert to a renewable energy source, you will be able to do it cost effectively.

 

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