Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Solar - if this is a test I hope I passed.

Cam Mather's friend is Bill Kemp who wrote The Renewable Energy Handbook which is printed by Cam and Michelle's Aztext Press.

That book like a textbook for people like me who don't know the difference between an amp and a watt. I am a plug-and-play kind of girl BUT I am willing to learn and I am determined to learn more so I am going to study the book - not just read it.

Cam believes that peak oil is the major event that will change our world. Whether it is or isn't really isn't important because the current events are leading many of us to the same conclusion: we could be put into a situation where we need to find a way to heat and power our homes without the power grid.

He has a thermal hot water system - basically a solar panel that hooks up to his hot water tank. Between the thermal system and his solar system and heating water on top of his wood stove they will never run out of hot water!

Their solar array is capable of producing 15 kilowatts of electricity a day if there is good sun for 5 hours - that's a pretty conservative estimate for most times of the year. They use about 5 kilowatts so they often have "extra" power which is stored in a battery bank and used for days when production is limited by lack of sunshine. The average homeowner uses 35-40 kilowatts a day and at our property last winter we averaged a whooping 81 kilowatts. Our 150 year old farmhouse that uses oil heat - not even electric- and our need for running water in the barn made it very expensive to run. (I hope I got all the details right.)

Of course the best course of action is to make your home as efficient as possible because the cost of a solar power array large enough to keep up with us would be astronomical! (Hydro One sized!)  So - read up on all the ways to save energy - switching lightbulbs to energy efficient ones - there was some talk about $9.00 LED lightbulbs that are available at WalMart that I want to check out. Insulation and all the other stuff you've probably heard of already - power bars on electrical equipment etc. Saving energy is good for all of us - whether you want to reduce your consumption to be able to use solar exclusively or just to save money!  Thankfully we've already done many of those things so hopefully our electrical consumption this winter will be reduced a lot - a really big a lot!!

This area was by far the most interesting topic and new to me. We don't have a woodstove but it is within the realm of possibilities to get one installed. Solar seems a little more out there but an answer that totally makes sense to me. Of course I am not a millionaire so this will be a long term project but you need to aim for something!

The Renewable Energy Handbook is available through http://www.aztext.com and any major book store - totally worth the money!!

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