Solar energy in California

California, we were repeatedly told during the gubernatorial

recall election last year, is largely ungovernable. The reason? California’s

version of direct democracy, with an initiative process which has been hijacked

by special interests, means that there’s very little discretion in the budget

– either to raise taxes (see the infamous Proposition

13, which severely curtails the amount that the state can tax property)

or to cut spending. To make matters worse, it also suffers from perennial energy


So I was surprised to see Virginia Postrel, today, rail

against a piece of legislation which looks, on its face, like a very smart

way of tackling the problem. Postrel starts off with the observation that "whether

or not there’s actually a bubble in places like L.A. and San Francisco, housing

is unbelievably expensive in most of California." That is undoubtedly true

– but the problem is that most of the wealth being created by rising housing

prices is going to property developers, while none is going to the state.

California, even more than most other growing economies, needs extra power.

The usual way of getting this is to build power stations, but there are problems

with that approach: it costs money the state doesn’t have; it’s harmful to the

environment; and no Californian wants a new power station in their backyard.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could somehow get the booming property sector to

help pay for California’s energy needs in an environmentally-friendly way which

doesn’t involve building any power stations? Well, that’s exactly what the California

legislature has just done: they’ve mandated that homebuilders install solar

energy systems on 15 percent of new homes, starting in 2006, rising to 55% in

2010. In the first year alone, even at the bare minimum 15% rate, that would

provide the same amount of energy as a new power plant operating at peak capacity.

Smart, eh? Not according to Postrel: her reading of all this is that "the

California legislature is working to make new houses even more expensive",

and she quotes opponents of the bill saying that "the solar systems will

add $20,000 to home costs".

No one, here, seems to have stopped to ponder the difference between the cost

and the price of a new home. Yes, a house with solar panels costs more

to build than one without them. But that doesn’t mean it will be more expensive

to buy: in the present market, housing prices are entirely driven by salaries

and interest rates, along with whatever feedback loop there might be from the

housing market itself. Ultimately, homes sell for whatever the market will bear.

Increasing the cost of building a house might decrease the amount that the developer

pays for the land and building rights; it might decrease the profit that the

developer makes when he sells it. But it’s very unlikely to have much effect

on the final purchase price.

All Postrel can see here, however, is "greedy and self-serving" lobbying

from the manufacturers of solar panels. Yes, there’s no doubt that they are

going to benefit if this bill passes. But somebody always benefits when new

energy comes on stream: most of the time, it’s petrochemical and construction

companies who build power plants. This time, it’s not only the solar energy

lobby, but all Californians who come out on top, due to the fact that pollution

will come down, California’s energy needs will become increasingly sustainable,

and everybody who buys one of these houses will see reduced energy bills for

as long as they live there.

Postrel, a libertarian, has a natural tendency to react negatively to any government

meddling in private commerce. But here’s an example of when government regulation

is a good thing. Even if solar panels had a negative cost on a net present value

basis, with future energy savings outweighing the costs of installation, most

homebuilders would not install them unprompted. Markets are inefficient that

way: private-sector contractors are just like the government contractors whom

Postrel has criticised in the past for building roads too thin. It decreases

costs in the short term, and increases them in the long term.

If homebuilders are forced to install these panels, however, they suffer no

competitive disadvantage with rivals who are more concerned with total bottom-line

costs. And Californians will start living in a more energy-efficient manner,

which is excellent for the state’s economy, both public and private, in the

long term. I think this sounds like a very smart bill, and I hope that Governor

Schwarzenegger ends up signing it into law.

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16 Responses to Solar energy in California

  1. Gringcorp says:

    Mandating energy efficiency is often wonderful. But one thing I fret about is California’s tendency to launch itself at power technologies before they are commercially viable.

    Even in sunny California, the installed cost of solar cells makes it very difficult to produce meaningful amounts of power at an attractive price. And California has been here before. In the 1990s it encouraged developers to build windfarms that never made money. In the 1980s it did the same with natural-gas-fired plants, a large part of the reason for high (and sometimes astronomical) power costs in the state.

    As an elaborate way of explaining the cost of not allowing a power plant in your back yard, the law appears to have legs. I’m not sure how prudent it is right now

  2. David Sucher says:

    “…but the problem is that most of the wealth being created by rising housing prices is going to property developers, while none is going to the state.”

    Are you factoring in the profits which acrue to people who already own a house? I would think that such an increase in value vastly oustrips the profits from increases in value which acrue to buildrs between the time they initiate a project and when they bring it to market. And in either case such increase in value is refelcted in transfer taxes at clsoing. (I assume that California has some sort of transfer tax.)

  3. California housing

    Felix Salmon writes about Solar energy in California and offered this (largely paranthetical) statement: …but the problem is that most of the wealth being created by rising housing prices is going to property developers, while none is going to the

  4. I’m going to set a fire in Postel’s kitchen and see if she calls the fire department. Fucking libertarians. What about the inherent facism of building codes? Shouldn’t the market determine how much or little insulation is necessary? Or the inclusion of a vapor barrier? And what about requiring specific 7 and 28 day load bearing capabilities for concrete? Dictatorship! Think of the Randian paradise we would all inhabit if we didn’t have to labor under these draconian strictures. Those construction workers in Atlantic City would still be alive. Wait… no they wouldn’t. They would still be dead. Anyways, oil forever. Until we run out. Then Californians can burn Mexicans for heat. They don’t want to learn English anyway

    Considering no one would know her damn name if it weren’t for the Internet, you’d think she’d be a little more prudent when criticizing government initiatives that don’t have an ROI timeline measured in weeks.

  5. TM Lutas says:

    What, a libertarian kicked your cat? The truth is that if solar cells were economically viable, you wouldn’t have to legislate them. People would just tell their builders to put them on and they’d ask their realtors to find houses that already have them, producing a pricing premium for solar cell houses.

    Solar cells are not currently viable and mandating by government fiat that homeowners plow money into their use might be a sweet deal for the economic interests that benefit from solar power but it’s a poor deal for the people in general.

    I happen to think that local generation and alternative power might be on the cusp of becoming practical. Government intervention mandating particular forms of the stuff is very likely to queer the development of a long term viable market for the stuff, pushing progress back by years.

  6. Felix says:

    TM — I’m afraid I simply don’t agree with you when you say that “if solar cells were economically viable, people would just tell their builders to put them on”. For one thing, people don’t have builders — builders build houses on spec, and generally try to build as cheaply as possible.

    But more generally, individuals simply don’t act as perfectly efficient markets. Just ask your local bank manager how many of his clients have savings accounts with thousands of dollars in them while at the same time running similar balances on their credit cards.

    To take this specific example, let’s say a $100,000 mortgage costs $600 a month. Then a rational home buyer should be happy to pay $10,000 for solar panels if they reduce energy bills by $60 a month on average. But give people the choice between paying $10,000 now or paying energy bills in the future, and most will choose the monthly bills every time.

  7. TM Lutas says:

    Felix – I suggest you research something called the time value of money. Dollars today are always worth more than dollars tomorrow. This is basic economics and holds true everywhere except sometimes in the pathological case of persistent deflation (where lots of other weird things happen too).

    Furthermore, it’s simplistic to say that people do not have builders. In reality, some houses (the largest sector) are built on spec and others are built to order. In the case of those that are built on spec, a sufficient increase in demand for solar power houses will make them more profitable and thus cause builders to change the spec.

    Tweaking your numbers, let’s say that $10k systems save $90/month in energy and people now want them since their average time preference breaks even at $70/month savings. Since solar systems are not being built into the mass developments, but are only available in the rich yuppie houses going on market, the value of those houses rises by $11k. Would the builders add solar systems for an extra $1k profit per house? Sure they would. It’s practically free money and likely far exceeds their cost of capital.

    Short circuiting this market mechanism via government fiat can, at best, save a bit of time. But the government is historically so bad at predicting when such decisions make sense that we’re much more likely to end up in a situation where the regulation provides net negative public and private utility, enriching the producers of solar systems who will naturally kick back appropriate amounts to their political patrons.

    Lots of very good sounding regulations end up only enriching special interests. This is one example.

  8. Felix says:

    TM — I’m well aware of the time value of money, and, what’s more, so are mortgage lenders. So if they determine that $600 a month is worth more than $100,000, I’m inclined to believe them.

    And it’s precisely your example that I’m talking about. The “rich yuppies” will work out how much money they can get together for a down payment, how much money they can afford for a monthly mortgage payment, and thereby work out their budget. They will spend up to their budget on a house. If the house costs $10,000 more but has solar panels with a net present value of $11,000, will they find the extra $10,000 somewhere? No.

    As for the “net public and private utility”, it needs to be compared to the same utility without mandated solar panels Ò but with mandated marginal extra power plants. Which are also built, ultimately, by government fiat. You can’t remove government fiat altogether: all you can do is choose the least bad government fiat. And in this case, solar energy vs natural-gas power plants, it’s a no-brainer.

  9. Bob says:

    I live in California and I was qouted $90K to

    get solar panels installed on my house (not the

    $10K to $20K stated above). Solar energy is only

    good during the day on non-cloudy days. Ir really

    does not solve the problem of losing electricity

    during storms. At night I would still have to

    pull electricity off of the grid. Unfortunately

    $90K pays for a lot of PG&E bills. I have decided

    to wait for some other technology that makes more


  10. Brian says:

    I live in San Francisco, the foggy side of town, and installed a grid intertied solar electric system in January. It cost $16,000 after the state rebate ($25,000) before, and generates roughly 75% of the electricity my home consumes (100% if I didn’t have a hot tub in my back yard), approximately $80/month worth of electricity, or roughly $1,000/year. So instead of sending money out the door to PG&E, I am paying down an asset, and I have locked in my cost of power for 30-40 years or longer (fossil fuels aren’t going to get cheaper).

    The state has a legitimate interest in mandating the adoption of distributed power generation technology (whether it is roof mounted solar electric, or small wind turbines mounted atop suburban street lights or utility poles). If you look at the retail cost of solar power, it is still somewhat more expensive than fossil fuel derived electricity. However, this is an apples vs oranges comparision. In one scenario, you are paying an expense to the electric company in perpetuity. In the other, you are paying down an asset that will continue to generate power for decades.

    Yes, building codes drive up costs in the short-term, but they save money in the long-term whether it is due to better structural design or better energy efficiency. The reality is that most consumers don’t know or care about electrical codes. Requiring builders to embed heat and power generation technology into new homes makes sense, and in the end, won’t make a huge different in the price to buyers. As another reader pointed out, especially in California, you’re mostly paying for land and water rights, not the structure itself.

  11. Lee Daniels says:

    To Bob #9

    Your not saving anything in SF on your electrical

    bill, the taxpayers are SUBSIDIZING you electric

    bill for you.

    Additionally, I hope you factored in the costs for the following:

    1. removal & re-installation of solar system when you replace you shingles (every 20 yr) minimum of $3,000.

    2. Look carefully at your solar panel guarantee, 15-20 yr guarantee on workmanship, 5 yr guarantee on parts. your panels will require replacing within 15-18 years max if not before. Thats based on experience.

    Based on average CA rates of 12.2 cents per KW/hr

    with a 4% yearly increase, the average home electrical costs over 15 years is $14,754. A solar system that costs $20,000 financed @ 4% simple interest for 15 yrs is going to cost $26,386, thats if your panels last & there is no maintanance and you don’t replace your shingles and those are big IF’S!

  12. Jay Draiman says:


    In order to insure energy and economic independence as well as better economic growth without being blackmailed by foreign countries, our country, the United States of America’s Utilization of Energy sources must change.

    “Energy drives our entire economy.” We must protect it. “Let’s face it, without energy the whole economy and economic society we have set up would come to a halt. So you want to have control over such an important resource that you need for your society and your economy.” The American way of life is not negotiable.

    Our continued dependence on fossil fuels could and will lead to catastrophic consequences.

    The federal, state and local government should implement a mandatory renewable energy installation program for residential and commercial property on new construction and remodeling projects with the use of energy efficient material, mechanical systems, appliances, lighting, etc. The source of energy must by renewable energy such as Solar-Photovoltaic, Geothermal, Wind, Biofuels, Ocean-Tidal, etc. including utilizing water from lakes, rivers and oceans to circulate in cooling towers to produce air conditioning and the utilization of proper landscaping to reduce energy consumption. (Sales tax on renewable energy products should be reduced or eliminated)

    The implementation of mandatory renewable energy could be done on a gradual scale over the next 10 years. At the end of the 10 year period all construction and energy use in the structures throughout the United States must be 100% powered by renewable energy. (This can be done by amending building code)

    In addition, the governments must impose laws, rules and regulations whereby the utility companies must comply with a fair “NET METERING” (the buying of excess generation from the consumer at market price), including the promotion of research and production of “renewable energy technology” with various long term incentives and grants. The various foundations in existence should be used to contribute to this cause.

    A mandatory time table should also be established for the automobile industry to gradually produce an automobile powered by renewable energy. The American automobile industry is surely capable of accomplishing this task. As an inducement to buy hybrid automobiles (sales tax should be reduced or eliminated on American manufactured automobiles).

    This is a way to expedite our energy independence and economic growth. (This will also create a substantial amount of new jobs). It will take maximum effort and a relentless pursuit of the private, commercial and industrial government sectors commitment to renewable energy — energy generation (wind, solar, hydro, biofuels, geothermal, energy storage (fuel cells, advance batteries), energy infrastructure (management, transmission) and energy efficiency (lighting, sensors, automation, conservation) (rainwater harvesting, water conservation) (energy and natural resources conservation) in order to achieve our energy independence.

    “To succeed, you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality.”

    Jay Draiman, Energy Consultant

    Northridge, CA. 91325

    Jan. 30, 2007

    P.S. I have a very deep belief in America’s capabilities. Within the next 10 years we can accomplish our energy independence, if we as a nation truly set our goals to accomplish this.

    I happen to believe that we can do it. In another crisis–the one in 1942–President Franklin D. Roosevelt said this country would build 60,000 [50,000] military aircraft. By 1943, production in that program had reached 125,000 aircraft annually. They did it then. We can do it now.

    The American people resilience and determination to retain the way of life is unconquerable and we as a nation will succeed in this endeavor of Energy Independence.

    Solar energy is the source of all energy on the earth (excepting volcanic geothermal). Wind, wave and fossil fuels all get their energy from the sun. Fossil fuels are only a battery which will eventually run out. The sooner we can exploit all forms of Solar energy (cost effectively or not against dubiously cheap FFs) the better off we will all be. If the battery runs out first, the survivors will all be living like in the 18th century again.

    Every new home built should come with a solar package. A 1.5 kW per bedroom is a good rule of thumb. The formula 1.5 X’s 5 hrs per day X’s 30 days will produce about 225 kWh per bedroom monthly. This peak production period will offset 17 to 2

    4 cents per kWh with a potential of $160 per month or about $60,000 over the 30-year mortgage period for a three-bedroom home. It is economically feasible at the current energy price and the interest portion of the loan is deductible. Why not?

    Title 24 has been mandated forcing developers to build energy efficient homes. Their bull-headedness put them in that position and now they see that Title 24 works with little added cost. Solar should also be mandated and if the developer designs a home that solar is impossible to do then they should pay an equivalent mitigation fee allowing others to put solar on in place of their negligence. (Installation should be paid “performance based”)

    Installation of renewable energy and its performance should be paid to the installer and manufacturer based on “performance based” (that means they are held accountable for the performance of the product – that includes the automobile industry). This will gain the trust and confidence of the end-user to proceed with such a project; it will also prove to the public that it is a viable avenue of energy conservation.

    Installing renewable energy system on your home or business increases the value of the property and provides a marketing advantage.

    Nations of the world should unite and join together in a cohesive effort to develop and implement MANDATORY RENEWABLE ENERGY for the sake of humankind and future generations.

    Jay Draiman

    Northridge, CA 91325


  13. Homeowners can cut energy bills by making their houses more energy-efficient R2


    HOMEOWNERS can practically hear the meters ticking as their air conditioners fight this summer’s sweltering heat.

    But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things they can do to ward off high energy bills now–and once winter sweeps in.

    Just ask THE ENERGY EXPERT, who conducts residential energy audits as National Energy Efficiency Auditor.

    “The most common problem is air infiltration,” he said, “where unconditioned air meets conditioned air.”

    THE ENERGY EXPERT, who uses smoke pencils to detect leaks and infrared scans to check insulation, windows, attics and roofs, said poorly insulated “room additions” over garages top the list of energy wasters.

    “Builders don’t always sheathe the back side of the drywall in insulation, so hot attic air infiltrates the room,” he said. “There’s only one piece of drywall keeping the hot air out.”

    THE ENERGY Experts’ solution is to install energy-efficient foam board with an aluminum-foil backing behind the drywall. A recent job cost about $300 and or insulation and attic fans in the attic — there is also a rebate and tax credits (check with your local utility). (Insulation in the attic and attic fans reduce energy consumption substantially).

    “It pays for itself in one season,” THE ENERGY EXPERT said.

    Homeowners typically spend about $1,600 a year to heat and cool the house, turn lights on and off, and operate appliances, said spokeswoman for the nonprofit Alliance to Save Energy.

    But they can cut those expenses by as much as $600 by switching to more energy-efficient products and taking a variety of other energy-saving steps.

    Those can be as simple as replacing a 15- to 20-year-old refrigerator with a new Energy Star model, which uses about a fourth as much electricity as an older appliance, and/or putting compact florescent bulbs or LED bulbs in at least the five most commonly used light fixtures in the house. You should also replace burned out motors/compressors with energy efficient multi-stage motors.

    “Compact fluorescents cost more up front, but you really make it up because they use somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of the energy required for an incandescent and they last 10 times longer,” the Energy Expert said. “Plus, they don’t burn as hot, so they don’t heat up the place during the summer and your air conditioner has to work less hard.”

    A good place for homeowners to start in determining how their energy usage stacks up is to log on to the Home Energy Saver at

    Developed by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, this site calculates energy use and savings tips based on information that users provide. Type in a ZIP code and up pop the energy costs of an average home and an energy-efficient home for that area.

    The program also includes a questionnaire that asks for more detailed information so it can provide a customized answer. It also has links to sites that provide a wealth of information about its energy-saving recommendations.

    On various utility companies Web sites, shoppers can order a similarly helpful gizmo called Watts Up? Plug in any standard 120-volt appliance or electronic device, and it will analyze such things as current draw, incoming voltage and cost of operation. The Watts Up? Basic model costs $89.95 and the pro version costs $123.95.

    Rather leave audits to professionals?

    Some auditors offer a standard audit for $100 that includes a visual inspection of the house and its heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. An expanded audit, which costs $200, includes tests to check for leaks in air ducts and the house’s air-tightness.

    Your local utility company may do audits, also has a list of providers on its Web site.

    Low-income homeowners can get help for free through the Aging weatherization assistance program.

    “We go into the house and do various tests to find problem areas,” said the Energy Consultant. “What we do in most cases is make minor repairs and blow in insulation.”

    Last fiscal year, many families got help through the federally funded program.

    Sometimes, however, the most effective ways to trim energy usage are the easiest, the Energy Expert said.

    Putting up weather-stripping, for example, is something anyone can do yet many people overlook, he said. The same goes for changing a heating system’s air filters on a regular basis or a set-back thermostat.

    The Energy Expert also recommended installing ceiling fans and programmable electronic thermostats. A fan can make a room feel cooler so the air conditioning can be turned up, and a programmable thermostat automatically lowers the heat setting while homeowners are at work and raises it just before they return.

    The Energy Expert has also learned that putting the screens/shades on the south-facing windows of the house in the summer will help block out some of the sun’s fierce heat. In some states especially the western parts of the United States temperature at night falls to 50-60 degrees — open the windows and shut the air-condition and or utilize a fan to bring in the fresh cooler air — it is also healthier and reduces indoor pollution. In areas of the country that have a high humidity — you can install a dehumidifier in the summer to reduce energy cost and a humidifier in the winter.

    “I take the screens and or shades off in the winter,” The Energy Expert said.

    Increasing a house’s energy efficiency not only lowers the owner’s bills, it also raises the value of the property. According to an EPA-funded study done in 2005, the latest year for which figures are available, a house’s value jumps $10 to $25 for every $1 the owner is able to save on annual fuel/energy bills. You can also utilize rainwater and grey water to reduce your water and sewer bill. Some utility companies will allow you to install a sub-meter for the water used for landscaping, swimming pools and ponds — which eliminates the sewer charge from that portion of your water bill.

    “You’ll get a better price because you can show them your heating and cooling bills, which are reasonable and not outrageous,” said The Energy Expert, national energy-management coordinator.

    The Energy Expert oversees many Energy Saver Home programs, which inspects houses as they’re being built to insure they’re properly insulated and sealed. The inspections cost $250 and come with a year-long warranty. For an added service The Energy Expert will perform a site inspection for the installation of Solar/Photovoltaic system for the home and/or business and its benefits, costs, rebates, tax credits, financing and ROI.

    Prospective buyers of energy-efficient houses can get a break, too.

    “Some mortgage companies will allow you a better debt-to-income ratio,” The Energy Expert said. “They know your electric/gas utility bills will be less so you’ll have more income to put toward your mortgage.”

    YJ Draiman – Energy Savers 6/29/2007 —

  14. Our war for energy independence and economic sustainability

    The US government and other governments are not serious about energy efficiency and renewable energy development and implementation — they are too busy playing politics and capitulating to the Oil Companies.

    IT is time to get series to avert an economic catastrophe — I hope it is not too late

    The world needs to invest $50 trillion in energy in coming decades, building some 1,400 nuclear power plants and vastly expanding wind power, solar power, geothermal energy in order to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to an energy study released Friday.

    The report by the Paris-based International Energy Agency envisions an “energy revolution” that would greatly reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels while maintaining steady economic growth.

    “Meeting this target of 50 percent cut in emissions and replacing fossil fuel represents a formidable challenge, and we would require immediate policy action and technological transition on an unprecedented scale,” IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka said.

    The scenario for deeper cuts would require massive investment in energy technology development and deployment, a wide-ranging campaign to dramatically increase energy efficiency, and a wholesale shift to renewable sources of energy.

    Assuming an average 3.4 percent global economic growth over the 2010-2050 period, governments and the private sector would have to make additional investments of $50 trillion in energy, or 1.2 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, the report said.

    That would be an investment more than three times the current size of the entire U.S. economy.

    In addition, the world would have to construct 38 new nuclear power plants each year, and wind-power turbines would have to be increased by 18,000 units annually, solar energy output would have to be increased 20 fold every year.

    Let us not forget as we are increasing the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency — the world population is increasing — the demand for energy by advancement in technology worldwide is also increasing. We have to take these factors into account.

    Oil is going to hit at least $200 per barrel, gasoline at the pump will hit $6 or more per gallon, in some countries it is already $10 per gallon.

    Most of the money would be in the commercialization of energy technologies developed by governments and the private sector.

    “If industry is convinced there will be policy for serious, actions for accelerated development of renewable energy and efficiency, then these investments will be made by the private sector.”

    People are hurting financially and economically, this must end, we should strive for a thriving economy with new technology for renewable energy and efficiency.

    We have the technology and knowhow let us stop playing politics — unite our people and our nation in a common goal to avert an economic disaster and maintain our quality of life for generations to come.

    Let us serve as an example to the rest of the world.

    Jay Draiman, Energy Analyst — June 8, 2008

  15. YJ Draiman says:

    A more efficient and cost effective renewable energy system is needed. R3

    A more efficient and cost effective renewable energy system is needed.

    To accelerate the implementation of renewable electric generation with added incentives and a FASTER PAYBACK – ROI. (A method of storing energy, would accelerate the use of renewable energy) A greater tax credit, accelerated depreciation, funding scientific research and pay as you save utility billing. (Reduce and or eliminates the tax on implementing energy efficiency, eliminate increase in Real estate Taxes for energy efficiency improvement). Tax incentive and rebates have to be tripled.

    In California, you also have the impediment, that when there are an interruption of power supply by the Utility you the consumer cannot use your renewable energy system to provide power.

    In today’s technology there is automatic switching equipment that would disconnect the consumer from the grid, which would permit renewable generation for the consumer even during power interruption. Energy storage technology must advance substantially. ?Energy conservation through energy storage?.

    New competition for the world’s limited oil and natural gas supplies is increasing global demand like never before. Reserves are dwindling. These and other factors are forcing energy prices to skyrocket here at home. It’s affecting not just the fuel for our cars and homes, it is affecting food prices and it’s driving up electricity costs, too. A new world is emerging. The energy decisions our nation makes today will have huge implications into the next century. We must expedite the implementation of renewable energy.

    A synchronous system with batteries allows the blending of a PV with grid power, but also offers the advantage of ?islanding? in case of a power failure. A synchronous system automatically disconnects the utility power from the house and operates like an off-grid home during power failures. This system, however, is more costly and loses some of the efficiency advantages of a battery-less system.

    We?re surrounded by energy ? sun, wind, water. The problem is harnessing it in an economical way.

    YJ Draiman, Northridge, CA

    October 5, 2008

    YJ Draiman Energy Development Specialist provides expertise in all sectors of the energy and utility industry.

    Over 20 years experience. Specializing in: Energy Audit, Telecom audit, Utility bills audit and review for refunds or better rates, Demand Management, Energy Efficiency review and implementation, Renewable Energy, Lighting Retrofit, Solar Energy, Wind Energy, Fuel-Cell, Thermal imaging, Rainwater harvesting, Energy conservation, Ice Storage, Water conservation methods, Energy and telecom audit and procurement.

    “Paying for utility costs without using a Utility Auditor and Monitor is like driving a car at night with the lights turned off”

    Much is at stake when policy makers, regulators, and corporate executives face the challenges of evolving energy markets and efficiency.

  16. YJ Draiman says:

    Additional Energy Tips


    1. Make sure your home is properly insulated. This is the single most important step in conserving energy. Thermal insulation should be specified in terms of thermal resistance (R-values). R-30 (10″) is recommended for ceilings, R-11 (3-1/2) for exterior walls and floors over unheated areas. In colder climates, consider additional insulation.

    2. Infiltration of humid outside air is your heating and cooling system’s worst enemy — it could account for 15 to 30% of air conditioning energy requirements. Find the places where air can sneak into the home and plug them with caulking, weather-stripping or plastic. Also, weather-strip and caulk around all entrance doors and windows.

    3. Cut heat transfer through your windows by 40 to 50% with double glazing (two panes of glass separated by a sealed air space) and low-e glass.

    4. Use wood- or metal-frame storm windows even if single-glazed windows are high quality. The extra layer of glass and the layer of still air will cut heat transfer considerably.

    5. Install storm doors at all entrances to your house.

    6. Keep all windows and doors closed.

    7. Remember that by increasing the glass area, you increase the amount of heat added in summer and lost in winter.

    8. Make sure fireplaces have tight-fitting dampers which can be closed when the fireplace is not in use.

    9. Invest in a humidifier to conserve energy in winter. The air in your home won’t be as dry, so you stay comfortable at a lower temperature setting.


    10. Locate the thermostat on an inside wall away from windows and doors.

    11. Set the thermostat as low as comfort permits. Each degree over 68ß∞F can add 3% to the amount of energy needed for heating.

    12. People generate heat. So lower the thermostat a degree or two when expecting a large group of guests.


    13. Set the thermostat as high as comfort will permit.

    14. Make sure attics are adequately ventilated to relieve heat buildup. If necessary, improve air flow by adding or enlarging vents.

    15. When building a new house or renovating an old one, choose light-colored roof shingles to reflect more of the sun’s heat.

    16. During moderate weather, don’t use the air conditioner unnecessarily.

    17. Draw blinds or drapes to block the sunlight during the hottest part of the day.

    18. Install awnings over windows exposed to direct sunlight.

    19. In the cooling season, don’t run kitchen and bath exhaust fans longer than necessary.

    20. Don’t place lamps, TV sets or other heat producing devices beneath a wall-mounted thermostat. Rising heat from the equipment may cause the air conditioner system to over cool your house.

    Reduce the burden of unexpected repair bills with Extended Warranty.

    HVAC companies offer the finest quality products and manufacturer’s warranties on the market. But, like all good things, the provided limited warranty on your new comfort equipment will come to an end. To keep you protected, HVAC companies offer the Extended Warranty Program. It picks up right where your HVAC limited warranty leaves off. And, it offers years and years of reliable protection at a low cost. Ask your dealer for program details.

    The HVAC Extended Warranty provides:

    1. The opportunity to supplement your Limited Warranty for five or ten years.

    2. Coverage that may include parts only or parts and labor for the duration of the agreement. Be certain you read the Extended Warranty for complete details and exclusions.

    3. Service work performed by servicers knowledgeable of the operation of HVAC equipment.

    Before you call for service, check the following:

    Problem Possible cause Remedy Insufficient heating

    a. dirty filters a. clean or replace or cooling b. air not circulating b. check supply registers and freely return grills for blockage

    c. blocked outdoor coil c. clear away leaves or other debris

    Failure to operate a. power off a. make sure main switch is in ON position

    b. open circuit breaker b. reset circuit breaker, or or burned-out fuses replace burned-out fuses

    c. improperly adjusted c. check setting, adjust the thermostat. No Heating or Blower door removed Close door securely to

    Cooling — Blower or ajar restore power to blower does not operate. Unusual Noise Call your local servicer

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