Sunday, July 30, 2006

Thoughts on Energy and Climate

1. In mid June I was bitten in the shoulder by a brown recluse spider (do a google image search on "brown recluse" - I faired much better than the photos show). I was on antibiotics for three weeks, for days my arm felt like it would drop off, it was not fun. The brown recluse is not supposed to live here in Southern WI. Yet with climate change it may now.

Soon we will be able to grow fine French wine grapes here too. Meanwhile polar bears are left without ice and can no longer get to their seal hunting grounds.

2. Madison and much of America and Europe is in a major heat wave. Much of the country, including Wisconsin, is in drought. Friends from Spain mentioned Spain is on its third year of drought. Madison isn't. We just had five inches of rain on Thursday - cars were almost floating away. Kids were canoeing in the streets.

3. So far I have not used my air conditioning (all I have is one window unit - it is still in the basement). Instead I am opening windows in the evening, putting fans in two windows - pushing air into my home, and running my undersized whole house fan (or maybe my attic is poorly vented?).

Then in the morning I close up the house, turn off all fans and drop the shades on all windows that get sunlight. It has been working well.

I begin to see the importance of having thermal mass in the home. With it you can store some of that night cool - and keep the house cool longer into the day. The only challenge is when night temperatures stay in the 80ties or upper 70ties.

Then I resort to wearing a swimsuit, visiting our local pool, and sitting/sleeping with fans blowing on me. I maybe sticky - but I have not lost any sleep.

And I cannot be blamed for all the new transmission lines that are being called for around Madison.

4. Madison's need for transmission lines - is driven by late afternoon/early evening (about four to six p.m.) air conditioner load on hot (always humid) summer business days. I am sure Madison is breaking new peak load records on the recent hot summer afternoons.

The problem is compounded because electric wires (e.g., transmission lines) loose their efficiency as the get hotter. And the lines get hotter on hot days and when they are fully loaded. They measure how loaded they are by how much the transmission lines sag.

So if you do not want to be the cause for Madison's new transmission lines, here are few things you can do:
1. Don’t run your air conditioner between about four and six
2. Turn off all electric appliances (lights) that you really do not need
3. Don’t open your refrigerator or freezer
4. Get an Energy Star (and smaller sized) refigerator, freezer, compact florescent lights, dehumidifier, ceiling fan, laptop computer, etc.
5. Find a cool spot, I like the neighborhood pool, and relax
6. Eat a late dinner
7. Empty and unplug that freezer and extra refrigerator
8. Put solar electric panels on your home. (Alas in the late afternoon they will only perform at about 25% of their rated capacity. Because the late afternoon sun is at a high angle to them. And because when the panels are hot they have higher internal losses.)
9. Unplug that dang wine cooler!

5. During these hot "global warming" days with floods and a threatening hurricane season - I see my car is a global climate change machine. So I ride my bike more.

6. I have set my self up with a pretty cool city bike. The fine wooden fenders were made by Cody Davis of Bend Oregon (I found him and the fenders on E-Bay). Another reason not to drive my (climate change machine) car.

six is enough.

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