Friday March 13 | Green Living & Energy Efficiency

March 12, 2009 at 9:25 am | Posted in Coming Up | 7 Comments

Join us for a conversation about green living- from compact fluorescents to solar panels. We’ll find out how to make your home more energy efficient and ways to make your life more environmentally-friendly. Charlotte Talks recorded this show last weekend at the Southern Spring Home and Garden Show in front of a live audience.


Dona Stankus – Building Programs Manager, NC Solar Center
Keith Davis – President, Residential Technologies, Inc.
Laurel Elam – Project Manager, Appalachian State University Energy Center

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  1. Ref: Geothermal Heat Pump. I have heated my home to normal temps, summer and winter, with no assist from electric strip heat or any other auxillary for 25 years with a well supplied water source heat pump. Heat coming off the exchange coil is abour 105 degrees F. Your comment that heating assist is required is generally not true. My heating and air conditionaing costs are almost zero.

  2. Can a 5 year old air to air heat pump be converted to a geothermal ground source heat pump? Also, if one lives in the city and wants to install a geothermal ground source heat pump with a vertical well, is some type of permit required to dig the well and is digging a well even allowed in the city of Charlotte?

  3. Correct me if I’m wrong:
    1.I believe I recognize the name Dan Huffman as that of a Gaston County HVAC contractor. He better know everything about keeping warm.
    2.Mike Collins is a green advocate who has installed his own programmable thermostat and is experimenting with LED bulbs. He is sensitive to light quality.
    3.The customer base for the fixes discussed owns, or has a majority equity in, a 21/2 bath, 3 bedroom
    home of around 2500 sq. ft. Even with slacking real estate values that would be a $200K+ property. How many families have heavy equity in that type of house in NC? And how many will be able to stay put to realize energy savings that would accrue over decades?
    4.Meaningful solar electricity installations cost about $50,000 (after offsets)and cannot be defrayed with sweat equity. Any offsets would be through state and local tax filings which can get complicated.
    5.Meaningful solar water heating costs at least $10,000 (after offsets) and cannot be defrayed by sweat equity. Any offsets would be through state and local tax filings which can get complicated.
    6.A professional specialist costing ???? may be required to assess your home’s present energy efficiency and suggest fixes. You will probably have to buy windows and pay for insulation projects to make any meaningful difference.
    7.Reflective blankets and extra insulation installed in the attic remains the most important energy fix.
    8.Fluorescent socket bulbs remain the most important energy conservation fix in most homes. Electrical generation by coal plants is still spewing mercury into the oceans which we consume in top predator fish.
    9.Low flow aerators and low flow showers can cut water bills and conserve water.
    10.A simple plastic rain barrel with a tap costs more than $100. You can do about as well catching your shower water in a bucket and carrying it to water your plants. (Sounds primitive!)
    11.Everyone would be better off if we abandoned the lawn thing and went to mulch and ground covers. (Less nitro in the river and less wasted energy and reflectivity at home.)
    12.Older people with money may not be able to live independently long enough to realize any savings from energy conservation expenditures.
    13.At least 75% of NC households are not in a financial position to do much beyond changing bulbs and installing low water flow without assistance. Handy persons may be able to caulk or install roll insulation in attics.

    Conclusion: Energy fixes remain nascent industries with potential change friction in the community, and remain mostly out of financial reach for the general public. Industry cannot grow and succeed without customers. Economies of practice, scale and competition will not soon occur.

    People are slow to embrace these voluntary changes without mandates and greater incentives. Mike Collins’ devil-advocate crankiness about fixes is typical. The shaky economy is not helping. (It is comical to think that solar production at the utility level hinges upon nightime storage in electric car batteries when people are so skeptical and such auto production has not yet begun.) President Obama’s smart grid requires a more informed and cooperative populace. It also requires retrofitting most can’t afford. This broadcast dealt with the audience as consumers and in total was an extremely weak sales pitch.

    I applaud anyone entering this field and understand it has been an uphill fight for about 40 years. I have fought the fight myself with passive solar construction, double paned windows, and solar water heating and have seen my efforts beaten back to nothing. When will the urgency make us ready? Our leading of the world in these things remains a cruel falsehood. I wish fervently this were not the case.

  4. Dan Huffman’s link indicates he may now be a well driller. This would interface with geothermal system installations. I apologize if my assumption caused any problems. Drill baby drill!

  5. Energy efficiency affects everybody. Using less fossil fuel means less pollution, something that bothers us all in one way or another. Energy efficiency also saves you money and there isn’t anyone who couldn’t use more of that. Products that use less electricity, water and heat are good products to have in your home.

  6. Greenliving: When an individual considers purchasing any energy efficiency upgrade the investment in and the working life of the system to be replaced must also be considered in light of the purchasers budget and credit situation. A geothermal heat pump installation could result in foreclosure for some if a job were lost. By the same token the greater society must consider the manufacturing footprint of any new device and the disposal impact of the device being discarded. As with the substantive analysis of ethanol from corn where crop land for food might be lost, and agricultural costs for chemicals and equipment fuel as well as refining overhead and transportation had to be figured in; one might discover that keeping the old windows and furnace and just dialing down the thermostat might be the best conservation move. As a longtime building renovator and designer I find some dwellings and buildings not feasible to retrofit, but that they remain useful for the occupants until they deteriorate farther and have to be replaced. These things are difficult to judge from a consumer or customer point of view. I’d say wait a while and read up, see how the economy goes by fall, before you commit to any big energy saving expenditure (unless money is no object=you’re extremely wealthy). In the interum your could caulk and install some attic insulation, buy some florescent bulbs to replace burnouts as these things are needed. Handy people might replace their worst single paned windows. Let’s wait for bigger easier incentives and better products and pricing. You don’t want to buy something off the shelf now and find it is out of date long before it’s paid off. A better thing to do is demand that mercury emissions be reduced and that nuclear power construction and insurance not run up our electric rates and taxes. Watch Duke Energy’s moves and attend the comment hearings. See what happens with Catawba water.(Obama has stopped Yucca Mountain waste vaults in Nevada!)

  7. You have remarked very interesting details ! ps decent site. “I understand a fury in your words, But not the words.” by William Shakespeare.

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