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Big OilCoal. The other black fossil fuel.
June 24, 2006 9:02 PM   Subscribe

The average American uses 20 pounds of coal a day. "our shiny white iPod economy is propped up by dirty black rocks.. I see more people dying of particle air pollution than are dying of AIDS." Coal accounts for nearly 40 percent of America's carbon dioxide emissions. Big Coal by Jeff Goodell.
posted by stbalbach (79 comments total)

 
the title should read "Big OilCoal" (looked ok on preview).
posted by stbalbach at 9:09 PM on June 24, 2006


Why do you hate Americoal?

I hate the fact that Ontario has a strong minority of power supplied by coal. Even more I hate that a lot of the emissions from the US blow up here.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 9:11 PM on June 24, 2006


I just love that the marketroids in the coal lobby have duped enough people into believing that something like 'clean coal' exists.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:23 PM on June 24, 2006


After peak oil hits, we'll be using even more coal. That said, there are (supposedly) "Clean coal technologies" that are supposed to clean up the air.
posted by delmoi at 9:24 PM on June 24, 2006


What may be worse is what they now do to get it. It might be a lot easier to clean up the air then repair a watershed.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:29 PM on June 24, 2006


than, damn it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:31 PM on June 24, 2006


I wish al gore was president .
posted by obeygiant at 9:35 PM on June 24, 2006


No Coal, No Electricity.
posted by Balisong at 9:39 PM on June 24, 2006


I wish al gore was president
Coal industry executives knew that if Gore was elected, regulations to limit or tax carbon dioxide emissions wouldn't be far behind. So Big Coal threw its money and muscle behind George W. Bush, helping him gain a decisive edge in key industrial states, including West Virginia, a Democratic stronghold that had not voted for a Republican presidential candidate in seventy-five years. After the disputed Florida recount, West Virginia's five electoral votes provided the margin that Bush needed to take his seat in the Oval Office. President Bush made good on his debt. Within weeks of taking the oath of office, Bush began staffing regulatory agencies with former coal industry executives and lobbyists.
From Chapter 1 of 'Big Coal'
posted by stbalbach at 9:42 PM on June 24, 2006


I wish al gore was president .

Wouldn't help.
posted by scarabic at 9:51 PM on June 24, 2006


At least we're saving paper by writing our observations on these nifty coal-powered electric screens!
posted by gorgor_balabala at 9:55 PM on June 24, 2006


At least we're saving paper by writing our observations on these nifty coal-powered electric screens!

Coal? Coal!? You'd think there were no hamsters left in the world!
posted by Dipsomaniac at 10:07 PM on June 24, 2006


I just love that the marketroids in the coal lobby have duped enough people into believing that something like 'clean coal' exists.

When GE is using the song Sixteen Tons to advertise its "clean coal" initiatives, it seems like it's time to give up. GE's ad agency has surmised, apparently correctly, that viewers won't see any contradiction; when people are so willing to bend over backwards to hear what they want to hear, "duped" seems like a strong word.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:08 PM on June 24, 2006


No Coal, NoWind, Solar, Nuclear, Hydro, Biomass Electricity.

Fixed that for you.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:19 PM on June 24, 2006


responding to: I wish al gore was president .

scarabic wrote: Wouldn't help.

Anybody got specific numbers on just how much the coal industry spent to help put their guy in office? Or better yet, percentage breakdowns of contributions to the two candidates?

At any rate, scarabic, it sure sounds like the coal industry didn't share your fatalistic view. There's absolutely no chance those guys would have spent big money on Bush if they really didn't think it mattered which candidate won.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:31 PM on June 24, 2006


The average American uses 20 pounds of coal a day.
Plus whatever Santa brings you.
posted by Davenhill at 10:32 PM on June 24, 2006


The average American uses 20 pounds of coal a day.

Like nearly every massive, sweeping statistic of this kind, I'm calling bullshit.

Makes it sound like everything personal thing I do is burning coal. And it's not.

20 pounds of coal is ~250,000 BTUs. Umm, no. Not unless someone out there is using a truckload of electricity to make this an "average."

So, where's all the electricity being used? It's for things the "average American" has no direct control over, like streetlights and water pumps and such. So don't talk to me about how much coal the average American uses. Talk to me about tremendously wasteful city planning.

Besides, you want to have fun with stats? The energy available in one pound of uranium equals the energy produced by about 1.3 million pounds of coal.

But funny, nobody talks about a drive to go nuclear ... damn hippies.
posted by frogan at 10:34 PM on June 24, 2006


That said, there are (supposedly) "Clean coal technologies" that are supposed to clean up the air.

Yeah scrubbers. And I think we just repealed the laws requiring those.
posted by fshgrl at 10:36 PM on June 24, 2006


Coal stations also emit more radiation than nuclear powerplants.

A unit mass of coal has more potential energy in its uranium impurities than can be extracted by burning it.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:55 PM on June 24, 2006


A unit mass of coal has more potential energy in its uranium impurities than can be extracted by burning it.

Is that actually practical energy, that we could extract and use? I mean there's obviously going to be a lot of c14 in there as well...
posted by delmoi at 11:15 PM on June 24, 2006


But funny, nobody talks about a drive to go nuclear ... damn hippies.
You mean damn hippies like Patrick Moore, founder of Greenpeace? Or more like Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog?
posted by koreth at 11:20 PM on June 24, 2006


Other people have pointed out that there is more energy in the uranium impurity in coal than could come from burning the coal. There is also plenty of uranium in granite. None of these sources is likely to be used in the next thousand years, because there is plenty of much more cheaply extracted uranium in conventional uranium ores.


From John McCarthy's home page.

Yes, that John McCarthy. BEARE OF BIG LISP!
posted by b1tr0t at 11:25 PM on June 24, 2006


John McCarthy's site is extremely informative, and worth reading even for those who disagree with him (which is probably most people here).
posted by IshmaelGraves at 11:38 PM on June 24, 2006


But funny, nobody talks about a drive to go nuclear ... damn hippies.

personally, i agree with the emerging consensus that nuclear's a very viable option. (just don't build a plant in my neighborhood, pal.) but given the somewhat less desirable biproducts of nuclear power production, an even better strategy would be to include as many other renewable, clean energy sources as possible in the mix, too (wind, solar, hydrothermal, etc.).
posted by saulgoodman at 12:08 AM on June 25, 2006


Dispose of the waste properly (vitrification and dropping down a two mile deep mineshaft in the stablest part of a continental plate would do for me) and clean up the mining operations so we don't have Navajos getting leukemia and I'd be all for nuclear.

But even without nuclear, we don't need coal. Worldwide, natural gas is hugely abundant; somewhat less so in the U.S. Yes, it's also nonrenewable and a contributor to global warming, but it's still incomparably less destructive to obtain, and is the cleanest burning form of fossil fuel -- producing half as much CO2 per unit of energy as oil or coal. It also offers a much higher energy yield when used in electrical generating plants.

Coal should be a fuel of last resort, and as dire as things may look, we're nowhere near the point where we should be doing this to ourselves.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:17 AM on June 25, 2006


Coal should be a fuel of last resort, and as dire as things may look, we're nowhere near the point where we should be doing this to ourselves.

Amen to that!
posted by saulgoodman at 12:35 AM on June 25, 2006


That said, there are (supposedly) "Clean coal technologies" that are supposed to clean up the air.

Yeah scrubbers. And I think we just repealed the laws requiring those.

No. Clean coal tries to remove all minerals and impurities in the coal and treat the flue gases to make the output almost pure CO2 which can be captured and then stored and used in industry or can be sequestered in the ocean or in geological formations deep underground.

In theory by using clean coal and sequestering the emissions in geological formations you could make a zero emission coal power plant.

That being said I still think nuclear is a far more viable option. It would generate far less waste to be sequestered and even the waste can be used further to generate power.
posted by Talez at 12:45 AM on June 25, 2006


producing half as much CO2 per unit of energy as oil or coal.

Since the primary energy producing reaction is oxidation of carbon, how is that possible? Does it have higher levels of hydrogen?
posted by delmoi at 12:52 AM on June 25, 2006


Mad: coal being sold as an alternative energy source.
Bad: cheery billboards on my way to work in Washington DC selling coal as an efficient, reliable alternative energy source.
Sad: Oh, father won't you take me across the green river, to the place where Paradise lay?/Well I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking, Mister Peabody's coal train done took it away.
Glad: That people are getting the word out that coal is a vile, dirty and altogether shit way to fulfill our energy needs.
posted by parmanparman at 1:00 AM on June 25, 2006


emotive responses: not a good way to formulate energy policy.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:06 AM on June 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


Strip mining cares
posted by adamvasco at 1:35 AM on June 25, 2006


The trick is to burning less coal is to use less electricity. No always-on systems and better instant-on systems. Better, cooler electronics. Better architecture. Better insulation. Better natural ventilation. Better regulations. Progressive and time-based billing. Less air conditioning. Less heating. Less waste lighting. The closer electricity consumption gets to zero, the cheaper and cleaner it is, no matter what method you're using to (not) generate it.
posted by pracowity at 2:29 AM on June 25, 2006


IshmaelGraves writes "when people are so willing to bend over backwards to hear what they want to hear, 'duped' seems like a strong word."

Oh sweet Christ this is rich ! Are you suggesting people isn't getting 'duped' because they are _willing_ not to notice a dissonance in using 16 tons song within the coal miners advert ?

Maybe you forgot the "hard work" work-ethics suggested for years portray mine workers as worker-heroes, earning for their families in hard conditions ; it fits perfectly with the idea of the hard, strong man of principles that proves his manhood in "hard" conditions (and ends up being an alcoholic depressed homophobic) and all this line of bullshit that is somehow sexy to sexually immature people. Such hard work ethics is deeply ingrained expecially in people 40 or more years old, even if there isn't any clear age limit line.

It's a perfect way to convince people "real man" work in mines, so the dissonance of 16 tons is reduced to a minimum and everybody, but the most attentive people will notice something is odd in using 16 tons. It's not WILLING not to notice, people don't _want_ to hear only part of the message and _willfully_ forget the other their attention just isn't focused on the text of the song.
posted by elpapacito at 4:43 AM on June 25, 2006


adamvasco writes "Strip mining cares"


That is some incredible reading, thanks a lot for posting !
posted by elpapacito at 5:12 AM on June 25, 2006


But...but...technology is helping to reduce coal emissions and improve air quality! The kids told me its true! Kids don't lie!
posted by Hildegarde at 5:34 AM on June 25, 2006


Those kids on tv said there was nothing to worry about. They're too young to lie.
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:12 AM on June 25, 2006


(I'm not jinxin', I'm just agreeing with Hildy...)
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:13 AM on June 25, 2006


delmoi writes "Since the primary energy producing reaction is oxidation of carbon, how is that possible? Does it have higher levels of hydrogen?"

combustion



Notice that the amount of CO2 released is xC02 therefore it seems that the amount of CO2 released is directly proportional to kind of hydrocarbon one is using and to the number of atoms of carbon in the molecule. For instance let's see methane gas : CH4 + 2O2 → CO2 + 2H2O

Now how much "heat" is produced when one molecule of methane, gasoil or whatever hydrocarbon is "burned" ? Enter Heat of Combustion in which we see that the amount of energy released per kilogram varies significantly and coal as a significant variation range from 15 to 27 MJ/kg ...I guess 27 is high quality antracite.

Now let' see how many atoms of carbon are in two fuels described by wikipedia and compare the amount of heat

Diesel: roughly C10H22 , 45 MJ/kg and emitting C10H22+(10+5,5)02 --> 10*C02 + 11H20
Ethanol: C2H60 , 30 MJ/kg and emitting C2H60+(2+1,5)02 --> 2*CO2 + 3H20
Natural Gas (Methane) , 45MJ/kg and emitting CH4 + (1)02 --> C02 + 2H20
Coal (pure) , 32,7 MJ/kg : 2C+02 = 2C0 and 2C0 + 02 = 2C02

Yet pure coal isn't that common a coal so good combustion quality coal yelds more or less 27,5 MJ/Kg (very best coal being used for steel production)

Seems like Natural Gas rules ! As some republican would say, hopefully there's no stinkin sandnigga over my natural gas.
posted by elpapacito at 6:44 AM on June 25, 2006


Stop pretending like natural gas is a solution. Unless you want to get into the methane hydrates, its production is going to peak right along with oil, as will its cost.
posted by 517 at 7:52 AM on June 25, 2006


"CO2 which can be captured and then stored and used in industry or can be sequestered in the ocean "

Sequestering CO2 in the ocean sounds ... I dunno ... bad.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:13 AM on June 25, 2006


Sequestering CO2 in the ocean sounds ... I dunno ... bad.

It is.

Stop pretending like natural gas is a solution.

Well if you mean me, I wasn't. I was pointing out that natural gas sucks far, far less than coal at every stage of production and use, so if we're going to burn fossil fuels we'd lessen our impact immensely by using it in place of coal.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:45 AM on June 25, 2006


West Virginia, a Democratic stronghold that had not voted for a Republican presidential candidate in seventy-five years

Um, I'm pretty sure West Virginia went both for Nixon in '72 and Reagan in '84.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 8:49 AM on June 25, 2006


acid ocean? stop just cutting down all the trees?
posted by tomplus2 at 8:55 AM on June 25, 2006


el papacito, are you sure you know the song?

Haul 16 tons and what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
St. Peter don't you call me cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

I loathe coal and coal mining.
posted by dilettante at 9:00 AM on June 25, 2006


Um, I'm pretty sure West Virginia went both for Nixon in '72 and Reagan in '84.

Not to mention Ike in '56 and Hoover in '28.
posted by hangashore at 9:07 AM on June 25, 2006


dilettante writes "el papacito, are you sure you know the song? "


Sure I do it's excellent and goes directly to the point : work like an ass and getting only worse ! God bless unions (when they are not worse then the boss).

Yet that has nothing to do with coal, it remains a valuble resource as it can be transformed in energy and is useful in preparation of steel ; so the environmental consequences of coal mining must be reduced, but guess what : you demand energy for a ton of appliances, computer et al and not all of them are superflous ; your energy saving is only a part of the equation, you need to find not only more, but better source of energy. Meanwhile everybody wants to have a monopoly on it to make money profit ! Good luck !

One need to get _out_ of the monetarian mentality of profit on a GLOBAL scale ; money is only an instrument of credit it is NOT an end and must NOT be seen as an end. So channel your loathing away from coal and redirect it to waste of energy and misallocation of resource ..spent in a lot of circus and bread for the masses and too little research.
posted by elpapacito at 9:34 AM on June 25, 2006



Sure I do it's excellent and goes directly to the point : work like an ass and getting only worse !

Yet that has nothing to do with coal


Actually, it does. The resource still needs to be mined before it can be used. A number of shafts are cramped and poorly-equipped; the Sago mine contained a few areas that were as hazardous as the diamond lodes in Johannesburg. Strip mining has its share of difficulties itself, and it's not unusual for thorium waste to be produced in the processing stage. You almost sound like one of the child actors in the ads.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:50 AM on June 25, 2006


I'm so tired. How long can this go on?
posted by jonmc at 10:17 AM on June 25, 2006


How long can this go on?

Just until the coal runs out. It won't be long now!
posted by easternblot at 10:20 AM on June 25, 2006


(it was a semi-obscure music reference, easternblot)
posted by jonmc at 10:24 AM on June 25, 2006


The average American uses 20 pounds of coal a day.

Like nearly every massive, sweeping statistic of this kind, I'm calling bullshit.

Makes it sound like everything personal thing I do is burning coal. And it's not



US Annual electricity consumption per capita ~1.2e4 kwh
Electricity generation per (short) ton of coal ~2.5e3 kwh
Pounds per short ton 2e6

This gets me to 27 pounds of coal or equivalent per day for the average 'murican. Since the overwhelming majority of electricity produced in the US comes from burning coal, the 20 pounds a day figure sounds right to me.

These statistics reflect industrial use, as well. So, industrial use of electricity is reflected in the per capita consumption. Fossil fuels used for transportation (about 2/3 of US energy use) are *not* included.

Maybe you don't want the energy expended in the larger economy to sit on your ledger ... if so, please step away from your computer and get thee to an Amish farm.
posted by bumpkin at 10:35 AM on June 25, 2006


Smart Dalek writes "The resource still needs to be mined before it can be used. A number of shafts are cramped and poorly-equipped; the Sago mine contained a few areas that were as hazardous as the diamond lodes in Johannesburg. Strip mining has its share of difficulties itself, and it's not unusual for thorium waste to be produced in the processing stage."

Point being ? Coal extraction is an hazardous activity, news at 11 ? Strip mining is devastating precious area of forest, permanently morphing the landscape of an area and people routinely risk they lives or risk health hazard , yet a lot less people is employed in strip mining then usual tunneling excavations which are also far more risky for human beings considering the potential for roof collapse, potential for explosive gas accumulation, black lung disease and I also guess overheating if machinery heated air isn't properly extracted.

What all of this have to do with COAL itself ? What all of this have in common with the FACT coal is among the few resource that are readily avaiable ? Fusion technology apparently isn't there, are YOU going to provide for the energy that is needed ? With what, exactly ?

If your complain is about working conditions then don't look for government enforcement of regulation unless you have a worker friendly politician in charge : your chances are much better with unions and strikes that put a lot of pressure . The complain that a lot of complacent business doesn't give a fuck about anything shouldn't be directed to bosses and management. either ...they don't care unless you have contractual power. Wanna reduce demang for energy ? Consume LESS of anything, expecially electricity.

Smart Dalek writes "You almost sound like one of the child actors in the ads."

Do I ? You aren't sounding much better either. WAAAAHH coal extraction is bad for mankind WAAAHH ! My boss treats me like shit WAAAA he shouldn't WAAAAA !
posted by elpapacito at 11:14 AM on June 25, 2006


So, where's all the electricity being used? It's for things the "average American" has no direct control over, like streetlights and water pumps and such. So don't talk to me about how much coal the average American uses. Talk to me about tremendously wasteful city planning.

63 million streetlights * 100W * 12 hours/day * 1 year / 300 million people = 92 kwh per capita per year, out of the 12,000 kwh bumpkin quotes above.

Yeah, it's the streetlights.
posted by cillit bang at 11:40 AM on June 25, 2006


cillit: multiply that 92Kwh per 300M capita and it becomes significant
posted by elpapacito at 11:49 AM on June 25, 2006


And? Whatever you multiply it by, it's still less than 1% of consumption.
posted by cillit bang at 11:52 AM on June 25, 2006


WTF does owning an iPod have to do with air pollution?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:00 PM on June 25, 2006


Maybe you don't want the energy expended in the larger economy to sit on your ledger ...

Which is the more accurate description?
* Every American uses 20 pounds of coal per day.
* The U.S. uses X amount of coal per day, which works out to be about 20 pounds per capita.

One tries to illustrate energy usage. The other tries to shame you into changing your everyday behavior.

Pay attention to sweeping statements like this. They're sometimes very carefully crafted to make a political point that is not always apparent.

I don't *use* 20 pounds of coal per day. Neither do you. Neither does anyone on this thread.

Some industries and some cities, on the other hand, are ungodly wastes of energy. I think we should focus attention on the demand side of the equation, not the supply.

Yeah, it's the streetlights.

Wow,you missed ALL the other words in the sentence! Amazing. Look, while the guy above pays attention to nuances of language, you just pay attention to sentences. They usually have more than one word in them.
posted by frogan at 12:34 PM on June 25, 2006


Yeah, it's the streetlights.

btw ... just for fun ...

In countries such as France, Germany, Belgium, UK and the northern part of the US, street lamps are burning an average of 4000 hours per year. Considering that the average wattage of a lamp is around 150 watts, considering that a 100.000 inhabitant city contains about 18.000 lamps, such a city spend around 11Mega watt.hour. Considering that producing 1KWH implies the emission of 340 grams of CO² (average in Europe), the streetlights of such a city is responsible for the emission of 3700 tons of CO² in the atmosphere per year.
posted by frogan at 12:40 PM on June 25, 2006


cillit bang writes "And? Whatever you multiply it by, it's still less than 1% of consumption."

Uh ok so don't cut on streetlight by replacing them with more efficient lights..or if they are at peak efficiency, don't find new ways to make the more efficient. DOH..so where would you cut consumption primarily ?
posted by elpapacito at 12:42 PM on June 25, 2006


Gains in efficiency are off-set by increased consumption -- the idea that efficiency will save us, in practice, doesn't work out. There are some large case studies that show it. But as a simple example, the Toyota Prius owner who saves money on gas and ends up driving more miles per year.
posted by stbalbach at 1:01 PM on June 25, 2006


DOH..so where would you cut consumption primarily ?

The things that are actually using a significant percentage of energy?

such a city spend around 11Mega watt.hour

Yes, but "US Annual electricity consumption per capita ~1.2e4 kwh" (ie 12 MWh).
posted by cillit bang at 1:06 PM on June 25, 2006


See, this is why the internet is so wonderful.
Instead of having a boring, informative debate on emerging solar power technologies or ADS Thorium reactors, we have sarcastic nitpicking over whether streetlamps contribute 1% or 1.5% of carbon emissions.

Here's an idea: Why don't we start knocking over streetlamps to save the environment?
posted by spazzm at 1:09 PM on June 25, 2006


spazzm writes "Instead of having a boring, informative debate on emerging solar power technologies or ADS Thorium reactors"

Why of course, we are such fools. Please sweet prince spazzm, introduce us to the the emerging solar technologies and thorium reactors !? Meanwhile we'll snarkly ponder whetever turning off your computer is beneficial for the atmosphere, considering your actual input to the discussion.

Meanwhile I'll waste more electricity calling cillit bang names for answering a question with a question
posted by elpapacito at 1:40 PM on June 25, 2006


An interesting discussion about China.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:08 PM on June 25, 2006


For my job, I am currently fighting legislation in MA which would potentially make it prohibitively expensive to purchase flourescent lighting due to the fact that it contains trace amounts of mercury. It's amazing to see the blinders on so-called environmentalists regarding this issue.

Your average compact fluorescent bulb contains about 4mg of mercury on average. Over its life, the electricity it uses causes about 2.4mg of mercury to be emitted into the atmosphere from coal fired plants. An incandescent bulb contains no mercury, but the extra electricity it uses causes 12-14mg of mercury to be emitted into the atmosphere from coal fired plants.

On top of this, the wealthier amongst these so-called environmentalists are deadset against the Cape Wind Project, which would meet 75 percent of Cape Cod's power demands with clean and renewable energy, due to NIMBY reasons.

It boggles the mind. Save the world, but don't do it in my backyard.
posted by rollbiz at 3:44 PM on June 25, 2006


I have always been wary of environmentalists. Though i agree america needs to start implementing cleaner forms of energy that are renewable across the board.

I really think were gonna be fucked in the end. Big industry does not want to change and i do believe they will keep us on the same course of destruction. Crash & Burn.

I do think it's silly to think that even if you could change things that it would happen over night. A good success story is brazil who had the same oil problems in the 70s. There government decided then that they were going to be 100% energy independent in 30 years. and they will meet that goal in the next year or two.

I dont see things changing at all. Both major parties are corupt and beholden there corporate masters.
posted by Dreamghost at 4:36 PM on June 25, 2006


Speaking of emerging solar technologies, there's some pretty sweet deals in Arizona to help homeowners subsidize the installation of solar panels.

Take my utility SRP's program, for example:
When you install a solar electric system, SRP will help defray your cost with a payment of $3 per watt, up to a 10 kW (kilowatt) system.
Tax credits also help (Federal of $2000, State of $1000). Given the average cost of $7k per 1kW panel setup, it means the following costs for going (partly) solar for these three case studies:

1. For a 1kW unit = $7k - $3k SRP incentive - $2k fed tax credit - $1k state tax credit = $1,000 cost.

2. For a 2kW unit = $14k - $6k SRP incentive - $2k fed tax credit - $1k state tax credit = $5,000 cost.

3. For a 3kW unit = $21k - $9k SRP incentive - $2k fed tax credit - $1k state tax credit = $9,000 cost.

Energy costs, estimated average consumption, anticipated savings and years to payback are also shown on that link.

My house personally averages about 9kWH/year (rather less than average in AZ). I'm planning on putting in a 1kW panel under this scheme this summer. It'll end up costing me about $1k. It will save me about $160/year in electricity costs, paying for itself in 7 years (based on stable energy prices) and reducing my household energy consumption by about 11%.

Plus, in case of an electrical utility blackout, I'll have a built-in backup supply of electricity off the grid.

If I had the money, I'd spring for a larger setup. But even so, I'm looking forward to getting this going.

Not bad, eh?
posted by darkstar at 6:05 PM on June 25, 2006


I should note, too, that a 7-year payoff on an investment is pretty awesome, too.

Makes it worth doing just from a financial standpoint, not even considering the energy issues.
posted by darkstar at 6:08 PM on June 25, 2006


Oh, and as energy prices increase, the investment pays off even more in savings!
posted by darkstar at 6:09 PM on June 25, 2006


and reducing my household energy consumption by about 11%.

Correction: by about 18%.
posted by darkstar at 6:50 PM on June 25, 2006


I'm still stunned that nobody got my reference. You people are culturally deprived.
posted by jonmc at 7:45 PM on June 25, 2006


rollbiz, there are no-mercury flourescent products, like Phillips Marathon - why don't we see more like it? Also the idea is to move forward and improve things. Lightbulbs today, coal-fired planets tomorrow - can't fix everything all at once.
posted by stbalbach at 8:28 PM on June 25, 2006


That's awesome, darkstar. But I am a bit sceptical about this statistic:
My house personally averages about 9kWH/year (rather less than average in AZ).

With that kind of power consumption, you'd be using less electricity per year than a 60-watt bulb uses in a week. :)
posted by spazzm at 9:14 PM on June 25, 2006


Goin' down down down
posted by dmo at 9:58 PM on June 25, 2006


I switched all my bulbs to compact flourescents, insulated my attic and bought a Prius -- doing my part for the environment. Then I read in the Times last week that out-of-control underground coal fires are consuming 200 MILLION TONS of coal every year. It's enough to make a consumer-enviro like myself lose heart.
posted by haricotvert at 11:50 PM on June 25, 2006


Put a tax on every product that produces C02 equal to the cost of sequestering that carbon, then use this money to sequester the carbon. Overnight, America becomes carbon neutral. The market will respond by developing cleaner technologies until the impact of the tax is negligible. It's the only answer, and it's the easiest answer.
Stop debating how to plan the economy and let capitalism get on with finding a solution.
posted by greytape at 2:42 AM on June 26, 2006


greytape writes "Stop debating how to plan the economy and let capitalism get on with finding a solution"

What ? Letting the same system that produced the problem find a solution ? I don't trust troublemakers to be problemsolvers.
posted by elpapacito at 4:38 AM on June 26, 2006


rollbiz, there are no-mercury flourescent products, like Phillips Marathon

This is incorrect. There are no mercury free fluorescent bulbs in or anywhere near market. Philips Alto (green tip) is a low-mercury bulb, which at 3.5mg is the lowest in terms of mercury content. But to reiterate, there are no fluorescent bulbs that do not contain mercury.
posted by rollbiz at 9:18 AM on June 26, 2006


spazzm, you're right! My error.

That should have said that I average about 9,000 kWH per year. The average household use is about twice that. But as my place is a little smaller than average (about 1550 sq. ft as opposed to the AZ average of 2000 sq ft) and I am a single guy, as opposed to having a family burning electricity, my electricity use is significantly less than average.

Of course, the cash savings calculation for even larger houses would be the same. It would just be a lower percentage of their overall electrical bill.

I'm also planning to add solar screens to mah windows, which could cut down hundreds of kWh in energy use. And I've just replaced my old heat pump (23 years old) and upgraded to a SEER 13 Heat Pump, so my energy expenses this coming year could be a fair bit lower.

While we're at it, I might also say that I've decided to participate in Chandler AZ's town-sponsored composting program. They provide composters for your back yard at no charge, into which you can put your yard waste instead of filling up the trash bins. And a couple of years ago, I xeriscaped my whole front yard, eliminating half of my lawn watering and mowing and lawn waste disposal.

It's shaping up to be a much greener 21st Century at the darkstar household! :)
posted by darkstar at 10:24 AM on June 26, 2006


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