We’re talking about hot water this week. No — I’m not in trouble with my local utility again — just discussing the best ways to heat water for your home. Our focus is on domestic hot water (DHW). This is hot water that you use for your kitchen, bathing and laundry. In the U.S., the average home uses about 68 gallons of hot water a day, with huge variations based on the number and age of occupants in the home. (more…)
Even with the anticipated El Nino weather conditions on the west coast, the drought in California will continue. Experts say it will take three or four years of very heavy rainfall to replenish above ground reservoirs, and many more years of above average rainfall to refill underground aquifers. So what has California done to address the economics of saving water?
The Governor implemented a mandatory 25% water cutback, and people responded with an average 31% reduction. Brown is the new green when it comes to lawns (urban use accounts for 21% of water consumption). Unfortunately, farm output has taken a big hit — fields are empty and orchards are filled with dead trees (agriculture accounts for 79% of water consumption).
But it has been difficult for people to conserve when they do not know what water costs. Anyone who drives a car knows how much gas costs per gallon — but very few people know how much water costs per gallon. Last year here in the San Jose area our household water cost $0.004 per gallon (about half a penny). We cut our usage in half, but our water rates still more than doubled to $0.009 per gallon (almost a penny).
Painful as it may be when it comes to something we take for granted, people respond to price signals. As water rates doubled, consumption dropped. The same behavior applies to other commodities that we buy — most noticeably gasoline and electricity. For more about the economics of saving water, please Listen Up to this week’s Energy Show.
Hurricanes. Blizzards. Earthquakes. Tornadoes. They’ve all clobbered populated areas over the last few years, resulting in extended power outages, fuel shortages and even lack of potable water. But people live comfortably in completely off-grid locations, generating their own electricity with backup power, using sustainable sources for heat, and even recycling their water.
These off-grid systems are gradually creeping into mainstream America. Generators are sold in some supermarkets, wood stoves are becoming popular heating options, people are learning how to recover and re-use grey water, and battery backup solar power systems are being rejuvenated by inexpensive batteries coupled with steadily increasing utility power rates. Inevitably, prices for these technologies will become more and more affordable — just as electricity, gas and water become more expensive.
Our special guest for this week’s show is Tod DuBois, CEO of Sangha Energy. Tod’s company specializes in off-grid living systems, including solar with backup power storage, generators, and grey water recovery systems. Tune in to this week’s Energy Show as Tod and Barry talk about your options for sustainable electricity, heat and water – even in your suburban jungle.