Drumbeat: August 3, 2013

A Republican Case for Climate Action by William D. Ruckelshaus, Lee M. Thomas,William K. Reilly, and Christine Todd Whitman

EACH of us took turns over the past 43 years running the Environmental Protection Agency. We served Republican presidents, but we have a message that transcends political affiliation: the United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally.

There is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts: our world continues to warm, with the last decade the hottest in modern records, and the deep ocean warming faster than the earth’s atmosphere. Sea level is rising. Arctic Sea ice is melting years faster than projected.

The costs of inaction are undeniable. The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller: delay could mean that warming becomes “locked in.”

WTI Falls as Employers Add Fewer Workers Than Expected

West Texas Intermediate crude dropped, paring a weekly advance, after U.S. employers added fewer workers than anticipated last month.

Futures fell 0.9 percent on Labor Department figures showing that payrolls rose 162,000 in July, the smallest gain in four months. A 185,000 increase was the median forecast of 93 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Brent earlier exceeded $110 for the first time since April after Libya’s head of oil security quit as protests shut export terminals in the country.

“The disappointing employment numbers are weighing on the market,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York hedge fund that focuses on energy. “A lot of the rally this week was based on the prospect for an improving economy and the prospect for demand growth in the U.S. Oil is taking today’s report pretty hard.”

Ethanol Advances Versus Gasoline as Output Slumps to 15-Week Low

Ethanol gained against gasoline after production of the biofuel tumbled to the lowest level in more than three months.

Los Angeles Diesel Gains to Three-Week High After Supplies Slide

Spot diesel in Los Angeles advanced to the highest level against futures in more than three weeks after stockpiles of the fuel tumbled to the lowest level for this time of year since 2006.

Russia’s Oil Output Rises to Near Most Since Soviet Era

Russia, the world’s biggest oil producer, increased crude and condensate production by 1 percent in July from a year earlier to 10.43 million barrels a day, near a post-Soviet record.

Caspian CPC Crude August Exports to Be Stable, Final Plan Shows

The Caspian Pipeline Consortium, operator of the only oil-export link in Russia that has shared foreign ownership, will keep daily crude exports from the Black Sea in August little changed from July, a final loading program obtained by Bloomberg News showed.

The 10 most oil-rich states

Ten states accounted for roughly 94% of all onshore U.S. reserves as of the end of 2011, with roughly a third of this in Texas alone — just over 7 billion barrels. In many of these states, the oil industry is a major part of their economies. Based on the U.S. Energy Information Administration's data on proved oil reserves by states, these are the most oil-rich states in the country.

Peak Oil, EROEI and the Muffled Drum

Much more important is the concept of EROEI - energy return on energy invested, which has been another Drum favourite. And this concept really does bear careful consideration. Declining EROEI could be the end of civilisation as we know it for, in the immortal words of James Lovelock - "civilisation is energy-intensive". Better believe it.

So - no more drum-beat. But you'll not stop hearing about EROEI.

Iran to increase offshore crude production by water injection

Iran is to enhance oil recovery from its offshore fields by injecting 25 percent more water into them, a senior Iranian oil official said, Press TV reported.

Water injection is a method of improved oil recovery (IOR) applied to offshore reservoirs, said Managing Director of the Iranian Offshore Oil Company (IOOC) Mahmoud Zirakchianzadeh.

Qatar sends first gas shipment to Egypt

Qatar sent a liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipment as a grant to Egypt, Qatar News Agency (QNA) said on Friday.

This is the first of five shipmentz Doha has pledged to Cairo.

Mexico's Leader Tackles Historic Oil Law

MEXICO CITY—President Enrique Peña Nieto is set to unveil a long-awaited proposal next week to change the constitution to try to lure back major private oil companies to Mexican oil fields for the first time since the country's 1938 nationalization, a move that could attract billions of dollars in investment and boost Mexico's image as an emerging economy.

Mexico: methane gas accumulation, spark likely caused explosion at Pemex headquarters

MEXICO CITY — Gas could have built up for decades before an explosion caused three floors of the headquarters of the national oil company to collapse, killing 37 people, Mexican federal prosecutors said Friday.

BP Says Loss on Spill Claims Appeals Could Scuttle Settlement

The settlement BP Plc reached last year with most private parties over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill could be scuttled if a U.S. appeals court doesn’t throw out the interpretation of payments being used by the claims administrator, the company said.

Huge leak of tritium feared in Fukushima

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Friday that an estimated 20 trillion to 40 trillion becquerels of tritium from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant may have flowed into the Pacific Ocean since May 2011.

The utility reported the estimate Friday to the Nuclear Regulation Authority after recently admitting that toxic water from the emergency cooling system set up after the nuclear crisis began on March 11, 2011, is leaking into the sea.

Richmond, California sues Chevron over massive oil refinery fire that sent thousands of people to hospitals

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The Northern California city of Richmond on Friday sued Chevron Corp, saying the company was willfully negligent in a massive refinery fire and a smoke cloud last year that sent thousands of people to hospitals.

A Hankering for Hybrids

About 298,000 hybrids, or cars that run on batteries and gasoline, have been sold this year while only 36,000 battery-powered vehicles have sold.

Fuel-saving idle elimination coming to the masses

GM’s move to make start/stop technology standard on the 2014 Chevy Malibu is the first ripple of the wave of U.S. vehicles that will be outfitted with the technology as automakers search for more ways to improve gas mileage.

It comes with a variety of names, including a start-stop system, idle elimination, idle-stop-go and micro-hybrid.

Cars banned as Rome moves to protect Coliseum

ROME -- The Coliseum in Rome was arguably the most beautiful traffic circle in the world. For decades, thousands of cars and vespas zipped around the ancient amphitheater every day. But from Saturday, all that is history.

Exhaust fumes slowly blackened the amphitheater’s once shiny marble, and experts worried the tremors caused by traffic could threaten the fragile monument.

Part of Via dei Fori Imperiali -- the spectacular cobblestone avenue that leads to the Coliseum -- was closed to traffic apart from public transport Saturday and turned into the “most stunningly beautiful boulevard in the world.”

Russian man accused of stealing an entire road

While it's unusual for an entire road to vanish, Russia's recent history is filled with thefts of other infrastructure, especially bridges, which are valued for their metal.

Most recently, a bridge over the Nozma River in the village of Frolovo, northeast of Vologda, was stolen in June — with a trail of tractor tracks leading to the culprit's home, the Interior Ministry reported.

US Solar Targets Could Save Americans $20 Billion Annually By 2050

Solar energy could supply one-third of all electricity demand in the Western US by 2050 while and massively cutting emissions – if the Department of Energy’s (DOE) SunShot Initiative succeeds.

Mobile homes as lower-cost housing

New or used, the biggest upside of mobile homes is affordability. As Margonelli reports, they're even greener and, on average, use far less energy and water than conventional homes. The combined cost of electricity, gas and water can be well below $1,000 a year.

Why we're working less than our parents did

Some people, especially those at the higher end of the earnings spectrum, report working more hours than they want to. This is particularly true for professionals who are now tied to their work by smartphones and email.

Also, many Americans are working part time not because they want to, but because their jobs have been replaced by automation, outsourced, or otherwise eliminated.

"The promise of technology is that we'd all get to work less," said Linda Barrington, head of the Institute for Compensation Studies at Cornell University's school of Industrial and Labor Relations. "But it's playing out differently for different people at different income levels."

'I'm working as hard as I can': For the poor, the costs of life can be higher

The 28 hours a week, spent waiting for, or riding, the bus, have become another part-time job. Because the agency that employs her requires she pick up her paycheck in person, she takes another two-hour, round-trip, bus ride every two weeks.

“I pretty much spend most of my time on the bus,” Williams said.

Big Brother declares war on consumption

The simple fact is that poverty reduces the scope of choice. If an added tax drives up the cost of a Big Mac, it doesn't necessarily make economic sense for someone on a limited budget to spend the time and money to travel to the nearest "organic" grocery store and then prepare a meal at home. Many will pay the penalty for their dietary choice because it's still the most viable option available. They'll have to spend more to buy the same unhealthy meal. The only one benefiting is the tax collector.

When healthy alternatives are harder to find, the tax burden on the poor is compounded, and social policy that seeks to engineer consumer choice often ignores the ease of access—or lack thereof—for the poor. So, according to a new study, among the most important advice doctors could prescribe for patients is to avoid poverty.

With Arrests, Signs of Justice in Slaying of Costa Rican Turtle Guardian

Two months after the murder of Jairo Mora Sandoval, a 26-year-old environmental worker trying to prevent egg poaching from leatherback turtle nests in Costa Rica, authorities made the first arrests on Wednesday in a series of raids in and around Limón, on the Caribbean coast.

The arrests came as both domestic and international pressure for action grew.

Analysis: Natural Gas Use Must Peak in 2030 to Ensure Climate Safety

A new report from the Center for American Progress finds that the practice of using natural gas for electricity generation must peak before 2030 in order to ensure climate stabilization.

Flaring Lights Up North Dakota

LONDON—Flaring of gas associated with oil production has long been a contentious issue: it not only releases millions of tons of harmful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere but it’s also a chronic waste of a valuable energy resource.

This gamble on carbon and the climate could trigger a new financial crisis

If you want to see market irrationality in action, look no further than current stock market valuations for the world's major oil, gas and coal companies.

At a time when governments are supposedly preparing for a global climate change deal that will cut carbon emissions, energy multinationals are investing in carbon assets like there's no tomorrow.

Put bluntly, either we're heading for a climate catastrophe, or the carbon asset bubble will go the way of sub-prime mortgage stock.

World food security more vulnerable than ever to climate change

A new study, published today in Science, has called for a ‘climate-smart food system' to prevent climate change from slowing progress in eradicating global hunger.

The researchers carried out a review of key scientific papers on food security and climate change since 1990. It confirmed a robust and coherent global pattern of climate change impacts on crop productivity that could have consequences for food availability.

Greenhouse gas emissions explained, in seven balloons

The biggest emitters were China (23 percent), the U.S. (14 percent), Europe (10 percent), India (5 percent), and Russia (5 percent).

And the primary sources of emissions were energy (35 percent), industry (18 percent), transport (13 percent), agriculture (11 percent), forestry (11 percent), buildings (8 percent), and waste (4 percent). The sources are explained in more detail in the balloons below:

NASA Visualizes 130 Years of Climate Change in 30 Seconds

Collecting surface temperature records from more than 1,000 weather stations dating back to 1880, NASA has compiled a video visualizing 130 years of climate change.

How hot will the United States get because of global warming?

Average temperatures in the U.S. have risen about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1895, and more than 80 percent of this rise has happened since 1980. The decade of the 2000s was the warmest on record, according to the National Climate Assessment Development Advisory Committee. Just how warm it will get depends on how many fossil fuels we keep burning, and how much carbon dioxide this emits into the atmosphere.

Climate change: Lessons from the Vikings and ancient cliff dwellers

For years archaeologists and New Mexico tour guides talked about the mysterious, sudden “disappearance” of the Anasazi Indians, the people who built magnificent cliff dwellings in the Southwestern United States. That kind of talk irritated modern tribes such as the Hopi and Zuni no end; they knew the Anasazi never disappeared but were in fact their ancestors.

But the ancient people did suddenly abandon these ancient sites, and archaeologists now believe the trigger for this was climate change, specifically the Great Drought, from about 1276 to 1279. According to some recent research, the problem wasn’t so much because the people no longer had enough water for their crops; a relatively small expansion of their agricultural territory would have provided enough food. But the sudden climate change, these researchers theorize, led to a disruption in their beliefs and a loss of faith in their political structure. The people did not disappear, but their way of life collapsed as they scattered, forming much smaller and less formal village units.

Climate change lessons - "But the sudden climate change, these researchers theorize, led to a disruption in their beliefs and a loss of faith in their political structure."

As someone who lived in the SW before and after the current drought cycle, one of the worst things for me is the increase in pollen count. Juniper trees in the Sonora Desert regions at the elevations where the "Anasazi" lived (and probably other plants as well) produce more pollen in an effort to survive during drought, and one of several reasons I moved closer to the Pacific coast. These folks may have had natural remedies but no modern medicine for relief.

There is an anthropologist who did some viable research about pollen counts in that era of "disappearnce" of indigenous cultures - the name escapes me at the moment. If people had belief and political structure shifts, these had to be tied in with other physical reasons, not just a lack of rain, IMO. Agriculture would be the big one. Could be lots of small ones like allergies. The amount of dust that gets blown around the SW desert regions grows during drought as well.

Disclaimer - I have just a BA in Anthro with concentration in Museum Studies and haven't kept on the discipline.

Good thing we have all that expensive modern medicine to help undo the effects of diesel fumes, which various studies point to as a catalyst for asthma and allergies (among other ills). Simply not breathe carfug? Crazy talk! That would be un-American!

And away, to try to find some relatively noise-and-car-free location in which to ply my Anasazi flute (by way of coyote oldman).

Oil business and medical seems to be really good investments.

The EIA just published their latest International Energy Statistics with their production numbers for April. They have world oil production numbers reaching a new all time high. They have April C+C numbers at 76,349 kb/d or 244 kb/d above their previous high of April 2012.

The EIA had major revisions in their March data. Total C+C was revised upward 84 kb/d in February and another 287 kb/d in March. The largest revisions were in Canada. Canadial C+C production was revised upward 14 kb/d in February and a whopping 145 thousand barrels per day in March.

The data below is in kb/d. The last data point is April for EIA and May for JODI.

Canada EIA v JODI photo EIAvJODICanada_zpsf7112748.png

Both the EIA and JODI have Canadian C+C production increasing by about 280 kb/d from September 2012 to November 2012. But from that point they diverge greatly. From November 2012 until April 2013 JODI has Canadian C+C declining by 115 kb/d while over the same 5 month period the EIA has Canadian C+C increasing by 356 kb/d. That is a difference of 471 kb/d. JODI has Canada declining by another 55 kb/d in May.

I tried news.googling “Canadian Oil Production” to see who was closest to being correct. All I could find was data for May and that was for both gas and oil. Canadian oil and gas production declined 2.2 % in May. So we know JODI has the correct decline numbers for May but I remain unclear about March and April. If anyone has that data from another source please post it. I have more on this subject at PeakOilBarrel dot Com.

Hi Ron,

Statistics Canada has online database tables that are relatively easy to play with. Their online tool is called CANSIM.

Table 126-0001
Supply and disposition of crude oil and equivalent
monthly (cubic metres x 1,000)

Select the "Add/Remove Data" tab to set up a more fine grained view of the data.


Hey, it has data through January. Or at least that is the last data your link shows. The EIA data is through April and JODI through May. I guess I can wait three months and they will tell me if the EIA data is correct or not.

I was perusing the (2005) Top 33 Net Oil Exporters' ECI numbers, and I noticed something interesting. I define the ECI ratio as the ratio of total petroleum liquids + other liquids production to liquids consumption. So, production of 2.0 mbpd and consumption of 1.0 mbpd would result in an ECI ratio of 2.0 (or they were consuming half of production). Mathematically of course, a declining ECI ratio means that the net exporter is trending toward zero net oil exports (and an ECI ratio of 1.0). Note that some countries with flat net exports, e.g., Russia, which had net exports of 7.2 mbpd in 2007 and in 2012, showed significant declines in their ECI ratios. Russia's ECI Ratio fell from 3.7 in 2007 to 3.3 in 2012.

Regarding the Top 33, if we look at 2005 to 2012 data, as annual Brent prices increased from $55 to $112, only seven countries showed increases in their ECI ratios--Canada, Colombia, Iraq, Libya, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Nigeria. If we look at the last three years of data, 2010 to 2012, as annual Brent prices were respectively $80, $111 and $112, only four of these seven countries still showed increases in their ECI ratios--Canada, Colombia, Iraq and Libya. The other three--Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Nigeria--showed declining ECI ratios from 2010 to 2012. And of course, Libya comes with an asterisk, because of political unrest.

Incidentally, some countries did show increases in their ECI ratios from 2010 to 2012, but they remained below their 2005 levels, e.g., the UAE's ECI ratio increased from 4.6 in 2010 to 5.1 in 2012, but they remained well below their 2005 ECI ratio of 7.6. At the 2005 to 2012 rate of decline in the UAE's ECI ratio, they were on track to approach zero net oil exports in less than 30 years.

In any case, based on the 2005 to 2012 data, 26 of the top 33 net oil exporters in 2005 were mathematically trending toward zero net oil exports.

One of the benefits of the scientific method is to permit humans to understand phenomena which are not intuitive. Things that seem enigmatic or perverse. This is the kind of understanding which will need to be actively preserved, to the degree that it is helpful to mitigate The Predicament.

If there is a short list of useful ideas and technologies which can make the next 1000 years less grim, I submit four for consideration:

1) Understanding of heat transfer principles (radiation, conduction, convection) and the relevant material properties (heat capacity, thermal conductivity, emissivity, etc)
2) Transparent glass and the means to make it.
3) Thermal insulation and the means to make it.
4) Water pipe and the means to make it.

My experience is that most folk don't really 'get' the concepts related to heat transfer, particularly the idea that heat and temperature are not the same thing. In a world which will be too hot, the ability to deal with heat will be crucial.

If we assume that sustainable systems will, of necessity, not use complex technologies (microprocessors, electric motors, ball bearings, etc), then any means to deal with heat must rely on simple materials applied in an elegant way to take advantage of the principles of heat transfer. In broad terms this means collecting material to store heat (dirt, stone, water), insulating in a way to moderate the heat flow in an advantageous way, and providing a means to introduce and extract heat (air flow, water flow, sunlight).

None of this is new. Its the basis for passive solar design. But I don't think it gets the emphasis it deserves.

Passive designs always require a good understanding of the local environment and a lot of planning. Its a process of expending a lot of thought in order to eliminate the use of technological gadgets. And it almost always requires moving a lot of mass. But moving it in a smart way. Humans have moved a lot of mass in dumb ways for millennia (pyramids, castles, cathedrals, etc), so we don't seem to mind this activity. By 'dumb', i don't mean pointless. I'm sure there were culturally valid reasons for building these structures. But these 'stacks of stones' had the same environment within as without, less the rain perhaps. They could have been so much more, but the weren't.


Because they didn't understand heat transfer. They didn't have large panes of clear glass, They didn't 'grok' insulation and thermal mass.

Of course they understood the idea of staying warm; clothing, fur, cloaks, fireplaces. But these intuitive approaches didn't scale.

We have the knowledge to do better. But we mostly don't, because we have been applying energy intensive technologies instead: furnaces, boilers, pumps, air-conditioning, etc.

In the future, we will need to stack the stones in smart ways. Its a place where knowledge, planning, and purpose can displace gadgets to preserve quality of life.

Four Silver BB's for The Predicament.

Any other BB suggestions?

Nice. I would suggest some software to go with your hardware: the microbiological theory of disease. Optional extras might be the scientific method itself, and the axiomatic method.

Water pumping (e.g. wind or water-driven simple piston/jack pumps); milling/grinding grains; traditional medicine and medicinal plants; basic chemistry to produce things like lye, preservatives such as vinegar, yeasts - goes to fermenting/distilling. BEER. Basic sanitation.

Preserving key insights in bio-chemistry will be crucial. They inform medicine, gardening, agriculture, sanitation. The living world in general.

So... a start on the bio-chem BBs:

1) Basic inorganic chemistry: acid/base, redox reactions, inorganic lab techniques, core knowledge of the chemical behavior of elements, the Important Few reactions and processes (like... making potassium/sodium hydroxides ie soap, lead acid battery chemistry, and ....???)
2) Basic organic chemistry: hydrogen carbon bonding, the spectrum of H-C compounds, which ones 'matter', etc
3) Basic biochemistry: respiration, photosynthesis, ADP/ATP cycling, fermentation, etc
4) Applied Biology: germ theory of disease, antiseptic materials/methods, sewage treatment (or Humanure if you prefer), water testing and treatment, etc.
5) Applied Botany: herbs, medicianals, toxins, etc

Again, none of this is new. Its a matter of packaging and preserving the information. If you could leave one book to your great great great grandchildren, what would be in it? And.... a book will not be enough. What artifacts and 'traditions' will they need?

These are the sort of questions I would like to see discussed far more than they are.

What you are outlining amounts to a high quality university education, we have lots of such people here and now. Their huge problem is that a seeming large minority of people not only do not possess such knowledge, but are actively hostile to the entire process of scientific thinking, and instead revert to primitive decision-making based on emotion, unexamined tradition, and all the well-known forms of witchdoctorisms.

And how do you spot a sociopath before he really hurts you?

So, what do we say to the future about all that?

And, what do we say to the present about it??

And how do you spot a sociopath before he really hurts you?

Especially when that sociopath has a high quality university education and finds himself in a position of power as the CEO of a big corporation, the president of a major financial institution or in high political office?

Look what can happen just with having access to the power of a few hundred horses courtesy of a little gasoline...


The sandy-haired man drove the powerful midsized Dodge Avenger into vendors and tourists as they walked along the paved pedestrian walkway of the storied boardwalk. Police and witnesses said bloodied victims and knocked over mannequins and lawn chairs were left in the wake.

Witnesses told firefighters it appeared the man was in control of his car as he ran people down, but police said they did not know his motives.

Sigh! As some of you might have noticed over the past few years, I am cursed with a mind that is constantly making useless connections and associations which I am then compelled to share with the unwitting readers of my comments...

So as the final curtain falls on TOD here's one of my last ones for you guys.

DODGE, THE AVENGER! AVENGE THE DODGER! Maybe the Guy was a religious zealot on an anti gay crusade or something like that? Or just a disgruntled LA Dodgers fan. That might be a little dodgy. Ok, I think its high time for me to get the heck out of dodge >;-)

revert to primitive decision-making based on emotion, unexamined tradition, and all the well-known forms of witchdoctorisms.

But it works so well for the followers of the book "Public Relations". At least some are trying the first attempts are reversing this with things like adbusters or http://www.activistpost.com/2013/08/reversing-edward-bernays-effect.html

Wikipedia is my answer, although IMO the complete English version is too large to be printed so you will need a reader. Readers/tablets without moving parts should last years and have modest power requirements.

You can download an offline reader and database available for Android 4+ devices, Windows, Mac, and Linux from the Kiwix home page. The offline English version takes 23.5 GB without pictures which would fit on a 32 GB thumb drive. BTW: I don't know how large the English version with pictures would be, but it would be much larger. With just one 300K picture per article it would add 1200 GB without additional compression. So a full English dump with pictures could be impractical.

I have thought about micro printing Wikipedia using 4 up to 16 up double sided pages with a high resolution ink jet printer. Even then the complete English book of more than 4 million articles would result in more than 130,000 pages at the 16 up scale or 130 volumes of 1000 pages each and at that scale you would need a quality magnifier to read it. And of course it would be expensive to print both in time and dollars. At retail, photo paper plus ink would be around $400 per volume for the 16 up version. For me this is not an affordable solution.

One way to reduce the size would be to just print technical articles, but still it would be large. [I could not find any statistics by portal or category, so I don't have an estimate of how large.] I also question the usability of a straight printing of Wikipedia to paper since the online version is hypertext based and the printed version will not be. That means that references should should have some way to indicate a volume/page numbers. However, to do this would require a fairly complex parser printer for Wikipedia and this would be a nontrivial project. I estimate that it would require a three to five year person effort for a professional programmer and then it would have to be maintained as Wikipedia changes its code and formats (Wikipedia code and formats are a moving target).

All things considered I question the value of a printed Wikipedia versus a Wikipedia reader. An offline reader will be far superior to a printed version.

I was just here a few minutes ago and there was a post from Darwinian which is no longer here. I was in the process of a reply when I needed to reboot. When I returned, post was missing. What's up?

The comment from Darwinian is in the August 2 Drumbeat. This is the August 3 Drumbeat.

But it is now here again, where it was before my comment. Electronic wizardry? Now you see him, now you don't?

If he edited a comment with a link or graphic, the original gets hidden and replaced when the edited comment gets released from the spam filter.

It doesn't have to have a link or graphic. And some comments with links and graphics get through the spam filter. Not sure why, but do not assume that every comment with a link gets blocked, and every comment without one gets through.

Basically, though, if your comment was caught in the spam filter when you first posted it, it will be caught again if you try to edit it.

I've noticed the inconsistency. It's kind of exciting these days when a comment with a link goes through the first time. Maybe the filter is learning. Most of my links to BBC get through; CNN, sometimes. Also, I've previewed my comments with links, then removed the link before saving, and they still get held by the filter.

It's probably the spam filter. If you edit a post, it may get caught in the spam filter. It's still there, just hidden. Until someone on staff approves it. Then it becomes visible again.

Schrödinger's cat syndrome, it's the new normal. Sometimes things are there and sometimes they're not :)

Bit like Obama's campaign pledge to protect whistleblowers on the Democrats website. Or the TBTF banks, both alive and dead at the same time, as long as nobody actual opens the box to check.

Just get used to it, whatever the reason, its perfectly rational.

Specs solar update. Conduit in, AC disconnects in, and racks fully in. Still need to pull the wire but other that that the rest is tinker-toy stuff of just plugging together the plug-n-play microinverters to panels. Installing solar is pretty easy stuff.

Main roof racks:
Main Roof Racks photo 20130802_MainRoofRacks_zps44bef441.jpg

That chimney will cast a shadow on several panels at various times of the day and the year. That is one of the reasons I went with microinverters. Those will be not fully productive but you play the cards you are dealt.

Back roof racks:
Back roof racks photo 20130728_BackRoofRacks_zpsc68f4f4f.jpg
Ugh, that required 3 foot set-back at the ridgeline is such a waste of great space. :-/

What is the code reference for the 3 ft setback from ridgeline? Curious requirement. Wonder what the rationale for it is.

wind vortex, like airfoil in a stall. Wants to peel off anything sticking up near the ridge.

The reason for the rule is for the fire department.

Here is the specific rule:

SECTION 9116. REQUIRED CLEARANCES FOR SOLAR (PV) SYSTEMS. The following requirements shall apply to all new buildings or structures that require a building permit issued by San Mateo County.
1.There shall be a minimum of 36 inches of clearance at the ridgeline where solar arrays are installed on roofs. Arrays shall be allowed to be installed down to the eave if there remain three (3) access points from the ground to the ridge. Where there are fewer than three (3) access points to the roof’s ridge, then there shall remain a 36-inch perimeter of walking surface (area) around the array.

That 3 access points part allowed me to go to the edges. These rules can really restrict the amount of surface area you have to work with.


So, the philosophy is that the fire dept can access the roof ridge "corridor" to be able to spray the flaming array ( or roof beneath). Not clear on the 'access points'. If you have a simple roof, does this mean you have two intrinsic access points (either end of the ridge of the roof), and you need to provide a third, which would be a 3 ft gap between the arrays (along the length of the roof)? Otherwise, you need a 3 foot setback from the eaves to provide the 'third' access.

This seems like total overkill. But that is how codes are.

Is this what others are seeing for their PV installations in other areas? If so.... wow.


This is my friends installation(Florida). No setback from the ridge as far as I know. It was completely on the up and up, numerous inspections.

I do believe He has trimmed back that tree some.

Nice install. I bet making sure the panels are fastened down really strongly is an important issue down in Florida. Not much of an issue where I am . . . I'll probably just have that chimney fall onto my array when the big one comes though.

Nice install. I bet making sure the panels are fastened down really strongly is an important issue down in Florida.

Oh, yeah! I did some work with solar installs in South Florida in a number of different counties. What matters is which wind zone you are in. Obviously near the beach your install has to be certified for wind speeds up to 150 plus miles an hour. Otherwise, it's just a breeze! >;-)

It seems like a completely BS rule to me. And yeah, the '3 access points' thing is vague/confusing. The building people called me up and started to tell me that I had to put 3 feet around the full array and I pushed back saying that I had the 3 access points. I don't think he understood the rule either and said "Uh . . . OK."

My problem is if I decide to add more panels in another spot . . . they might cover up one of the "access points" but since I don't really know what that means, I'm not sure.

Nice. Once it's all up there and just quietly working, I'll bet you'll be sorry it's a project you only have to do once. It's kind of anticlimactic that way. You're ready to do it again, but out of roof space.

My wife noted this morning that our panels now show up on google earth. For that matter, so does our dog.

and the system just keeps cranking out twice what we use. enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/fTfF96479 - can be pasted into a browser after https://, am supplying it this way so as not to trigger the spam filter.

You'll find that you rarely if ever max out the M215's. Mine seem to put out a max of about 222W, and seldom need to. Cheers.

Yeah . . . I designed it such that I easily add another 8 or 9 panels later if I want but I'll wait on that for now. I'm not even done and I already feel a bit sad that the project is so soon over. I think I'll offer my design skills and labor to some friends if they want to do such a project.

Holy crap, that is a huge array you have. What is the wattage of the panels you used with the M215s? I'm going to use 250watt panels that will definitely over-saturate a few days a year in the mid-summer but 99+% of the time they'll be in normal mode. But Enphase has a white paper on their site that actually encourages the practice. I wonder if they'll soon pull that white paper now that they have 250 watt microinverters now available.

I initially designed with 30 panels figuring that'd be more than enough, but modified the permit to get up to the 10kw limit our existing wiring allowed, once seeing how much the clouds blocked the sun most days. That worked out to be 44 248W panels. It was fairly cheap since we did our own purchasing, etc... and dang cheap with both state and federal rebates.

We seem to produce about twice what we use, which I think is a nice target to shoot for in such things.

I figured that being in Hawaii, the 248W panels would peg out the M215's much of the day, but it doesn't work out that way. Even in the summer there's a relatively brief period near noon when the inverters are cranking at max, as you can see from the website.

Feel free to drop me an email if you'd like to do any other reality-checking with me, address is in my profile.

My ground mount array was a lot easier, and cheap. Also gave me a chance to put them on a tracker so that they could overnight edge straight up so no snow accumulation. around here getting snow off is a pain, and important.

The DIY cheap news is something that should be talked up. I have found that people around here are eager to grab the PV habit when they are told how simple and cheap it has recently become. A local guy has set up a good basic course in how to do it and is oversubscribed.

My initiative of buying lots of panels at low cost and distributing one at a time is hugely popular. I have also recently started getting batches of enphase microinverters because people like the idea of adding a few at a time. They tend to do as I have done- first buy a minimal number, then get addicted to free electricity, then go out and buy a lot more, and then go whole hog and get far more than you really use, and then, go for a heat pump and an electric car.

No wonder the coal people are terrified.

Problem is, those coal (or gas etc) plants are still needed, e.g., on winter nights to run those heat pumps. But their financial viability is threatened. This dynamic is farthest along in Germany, interesting to watch. The recent proposals in Spain of fining people for their own generation may be a signal of the fight that's coming.

Personally I went for a small PV system (originally 400 watts nameplate, later doubled to 800), with some storage (5 KWH (nominal) lead-acid batteries) and an inverter. Mostly as a backup power system, designed to run essential loads (freezer and some lights, occasional light use of boiler/wellpump/etc) indefinitely. For fun I run some things on it (freezer, couple of lights) in the sunnier half of the year, although it'll never "pay".

Coal not necessarily needed, I worked all last winter on a biomass-gasifier-stirling, and got it barely working at end of winter when I didn't need it. This gave me time to think. Biomass gasifier is awful finicky re fuel and air flow paths, but the final version was fairly satisfactory. Stirling was a military reject and way too high tech to make sense, so I have gone to a slow cooking pot engine with slightly pressurized air, which is promising, and certainly will work eventually.

But then, why not just storage? Easy to store heat and cool. run the heat pump every chance, heat up a pool of water, use as required.
real low tech, big but simple.

Down with Carbon! Up with solar!

It's the power that's needed, not the coal.. so what will be called for is a different business model for those future peaker plants.. I would suspect they would command some prime rates, driving customers to find ways of averting the need for buying at such dear prices.

As Wimbi said, the alternative solutions are probably already on deck as heat storage, cold storage, scheduled usage, retimed production activities.

Another stored energy source might be human labor, where manual tasks, communications, sales and promotion, prep-work etc.. would get fitted into the times when bulk power is too costly.

I think thats a big part of whats needed. Still I think some storage, and some sort of backup gen would also be part of an semi-optimal mix.

Of course we have economic and politically connected players for whom it is the coal demand that is needed.

My initiative of buying lots of panels at low cost and distributing one at a time is hugely popular. I have also recently started getting batches of enphase microinverters because people like the idea of adding a few at a time. They tend to do as I have done- first buy a minimal number, then get addicted to free electricity, then go out and buy a lot more, and then go whole hog and get far more than you really use, and then, go for a heat pump and an electric car.

I like the general concept of this idea but I can only it is being done w/o building permits and w/o approval of the local utility. If you were pulling permits, the permit fees for each additional little expansion would make it financially impractical. Perhaps there should be a discounted solar permit fee for adding additional panels & inverters.

"Fees? We don't need no stinkin' fees."

Actually, I have never asked. I offer the panels, they take them. By-by.

As for me, well, come to think about it, maybe I had better ask. Or, maybe better to ask the friend down the road toward town to ask.

Yeah, I can't blame people that go under the radar. You won't be able to sell the property easily but if you just want to generate some of your own power and you do the job right . . . well . . . how much harm can it be?

Several people I've helped have installed a parallel system that can be removed without affecting the original electrical system, and is low voltage (12-48 volt) which the code folks generally don't fool with, excepting the inverter. When I told them my system was just 24 volts, they lost interest; only concerned themselves with the standard AC wiring. These, of course, are secondary off-grid systems. Use a transfer panel like backup generators use, and switch loads over as you add to the PV system. One friend is powering all of his lower amp stuff now; only uses the grid for his central heat pump, backup hot water, and keeping his batteries topped off. With his PV incentive to conserve, added insulation, actually paying attention to his useage, etc., he's cut his electric bill by about 80%. If he ever moves, he'll likely take his PV system with him.

Sure, you can do you own low-voltage system. But he mentioned the Enphase microinverters which you can't use w/o a grid connection. But I think there should be simplified way of getting permitting for them since that would really open up solar PV to the masses. Utilities and installers would really hate that though so I doubt it would happen.

Thanks Spec for sharing on this slow Saturday.

Your shingles look in pretty poor shape, mine are about the same. I'm not going to install panels until I get a new roof put on next year.

I see the vent stack, I assume there is no problem putting a panel directly above it? A friend installing panels had one in the way (too tall) I talked him into shortening it rather than disrupting the pattern.

I figured that putting up the PV panels will let me extend the life of the shingles for a few years because they'll be covered by the PV panels. :-) (These sections of the roof are the worst because they get the most sun.)

There were 3 vent stacks on the main roof that I had to deal with. One was a small vent to the attic and since I have other vents I just removed it and put up a piece of flashing that you can see there in the 2nd row. A vent for a shower can be seen between the third and forth row (starting from the top). And a 4" toilet vent can be seen on that bottom row . . . I'm putting it between two panels on the same row using end-clamps instead of mid-clamps. So I won't have a clean pattern but I don't think covering them up would have been a good idea.

Why am I not seeing the Soladeck roof junction boxes?

You can see the one on the back roof at the right edge of the picture. It is still covered with some foam wrapping that came with it. I figured I might scratch it up moving equipment around so I left the foam wrapping on it. The one on the main roof is the white rectangle on the other side of the roof in the third row.

Now I see it, after clicking on the picture. Only 2 for the whole project?

Yep just 2. Each 20 Amp branch circuit can have 17 M215 microinverters. I have 17 microinverters on the main roof for a first circuit and 7 microinverters on the rear roof circuit that can be expanded later by adding more to an adjacent roof section.

Good to see, Spec!

Speaking of shadow issues, I was in Secaucus, New Jersey today, where one cannot fail to see the PV that's living on a great many utility poles, albeit they have been mounted more than halfway down the pole, and many are shadowed by the Wires, the Transformers and Streetlights, etc..

Anyone in the Garden State have any news on how these are performing in general, and why they were mounted in such a compromised position?

I did see something on these a couple of years back. They are of course utility owned. The idea is that they wanted some distributed voltage support (charger/inverter battery plus electronics), and adding a panel didn't impact the cost all that much. So they have a combo of voltage support and generation.

NYT: Life in a toxic country

Before this assignment, I spent three and a half years reporting in Iraq, where foreign correspondents talked endlessly of the variety of ways in which one could die — car bombs, firefights, being abducted and then beheaded. I survived those threats, only now to find myself wondering: Is China doing irreparable harm to me and my family?

Chevron second-quarter earnings drop on cheaper oil, maintenance...

I know I should not do this because it makes my blood boil but I occasionally go to CNBC to see what they are reporting and this was a headline for why Chevron was reporting lower earnings....I thought oil prices were higher? Can you just do blatant lying in the media now...before it was a least coded but this is just plain stupid...

Can you just do blatant lying in the media now...before it was a least coded but this is just plain stupid...

sparky, remember that the media has actually bought into the story that the US is now energy independent and able to once again be an oil exporter that threatens even the mighty Saudis.

So I'm not sure these people are lying in a simplistic literal sense. Cognitive dissonance can cause people to engage in some rather elaborate mental contortions. Case in point, Young Earth Creationists who manage to get PhD's in Geo Science from prestigious universities.

Or MD's worrying about antibiotic resistance, but can't handle evolution in humans.

I was watching CNBC and twice that I saw after Chevron earnings,Bob Pisani commented on it's harder for oil companies to replace their reserves and oil is getting harder to find.I was suprised that he gave the definition of Peak oil without saying Peak oil.A week ago one of the reporters stated the US public would be upset if they knew just how much refined products were being exported.

"US public would be upset if they knew just how much refined products were being exported."

Seems ludicrous with all we import, but very true, especially in regard to diesel.

"A week ago one of the reporters stated the US public would be upset if they knew just how much refined products were being exported."

But why? All that exported product is made from net imported crude oil. All it shows is that we have excess refining capacity . . . and that is a nice thing to show because a lot of people run under the conspiracy theory that gas prices are high because tree-huggers won't let us build refineries. But the truth is, we have EXCESS refining capacity.

From your link:

THIS spring, new data released from the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study, first published in The Lancet, revealed that China’s outdoor pollution contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths in 2010, or 40 percent of the worldwide total. Another study, published by a prominent American science journal in July, found that northern Chinese lived five fewer years on average than their southern counterparts because of the widespread use of coal in the north.

A few years ago I went to see the Body Works exhibit in Miami which is a display of human cadavers preserved by plastination. The exhibit is controversial for many reasons one of which was that many of the cadavers on display were of Chinese origin, some possibly of dubious provenance, such as illegally obtained corpses of executed prisoners.

That issue aside, I remember being struck by the fact that the lungs of many of the cadavers were blackened instead of being pinkish. I couldn't help but wonder if all of them had been heavy life long smokers or if that was a consequence of having been exposed to soot and particulates from air pollution caused by burning coal. Very possibly both...

BTW, I'm in Sao Paulo at the moment, a city of almost 20 million inhabitants and a population density comparable to Shanghai. Air pollution is also a huge problem here. Industry, cars, buses and trucks are major contributors to poor air quality. If one is returning to town from a trip outside the city it is impossible not to notice a thick brown smog hanging overhead, blanketing the entire metropolitan area. There's probably a business opportunity here to provide masks and air filters to the locals... At the very least I need to get some for myself.



Funny story:

Apparently there is a good exhibit and a bad exhibit. The good exhibit only used ethically obtained bodies (Body Worlds), while the bad exhibit may have volunteered some of the participants (Body Works).

I worked at an institution that hosted the good exhibit. They had a display about smoking and its deleterious effects upon the body. They even provided drop boxes where folks who had seen the light as to the evils of smoking could deposit their cigarettes.

After hours, the crew and the folks traveling with the display would raid the drop boxes for free smokes!

Bad Calculations Are Standing Between You and More Efficient Appliances, Report Finds

Has the Department of Energy been systematically over-estimating the cost of energy-efficient standards for decades? A new study says yes and it means you’re not getting the best technology available.

As a July that smothered much of the East coast in protracted heat waves comes to a close, air conditioners continue to whir away in homes and offices across the country. Most people know that air conditioners use enormous amounts of energy to keep us comfortable, and anyone looking at a summer utility bill, or who has endured sitting in a sweaty office after all those precious air conditioners have caused city-wide rolling blackouts, would probably agree that setting standards for energy-efficient appliances is a must.

See: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/07/31/2386321/appliance-energy-eff...

I constantly bitch and bemoan about the amount of electricity consumed by our dehumidifier -- upwards of 10.0 kWh a day, seven days a week, for basically six months a year. It scarfs back more electricity than any other appliance in our home, with the exception of our heat pumps, even though it's Energy Star rated.

Yesterday, after ten years of service, I decided it was time to replace it with a newer model. The original unit is rated at 1.3 litres per kWh, whereas the new one clocks in at 1.85 litres/kWh. Thus, it uses 30 per cent less electricity than its predecessor, perhaps more, as the fan turns off two to three minutes after the compressor cycles off, whereas on the old unit it ran continuously. It draws about 80 fewer watts in steady operation -- 405-watts versus 485 -- and it's a lot quieter (the old one sounded more like a turbo prop taxing for take-off).

This is likely the last major step in our quest to get our home's total energy demands below the 8,000 kWh a year mark -- space heating, DHW, lighting, appliances and plug loads; that's down from some 75,000 kWh a year when we started on this journey back in 2002, fuel oil and electricity combined.


Hi Paul,

What model did you get? I need a more efficient one than our current one and need to run it to stop mold in the basement? Thanks.

Hi sharppa,

It's a Kenmore MD 50-pint and I believe the model number is 253-25032.

It's set to maintain the relative humidity at 55 per cent and I noticed that at that setting, the readings on my indoor/outdoor monitor fluctuate between 47 and 53 per cent.

It's been operational for seventeen and a half hours now, and during this time consumed 5.33 kWh. If we were to extrapolate that to twenty-four hours, and assuming that humidity loads remain more or less the same, that works out to be 7.31 kWh per day, or about 3.1 kWh/day less than what our old model would have consumed based on their respective litre per kWh ratings. In effect, our new dehumidifier will cut our spring, summer and fall electricity usage by approximately 25 per cent. My only regret is that I didn't purchase it sooner.


Paul, have you looked into heat recovery ventilation systems? (A British example: http://greenecoliving.co.uk/heat-recovery-ventilation/)

In certain climates they'd be an alternative to dehumidifiers (and an alternative/supplement to heat pumps), and I'm wondering how the energy economics stack up.

Hi greg,

Actually, we have a heat recovery ventilation system (a Venmar HEPA 3000), but I suspect it only aggravates the problem. The outdoor relative humidity over the past twenty-four hours has averaged 84 per cent, and twelve of those hours have been at 97 per cent or higher. We can have successive days where the relatively humidity remains locked at 100 per cent, and the only reliable way I've found to keep mould and mildew at bay is to turn off the system, close all windows and doors, and run the dehumidifier more or less non-stop.

I wish there were a less energy-intense option. Our basement remains fairly cool during the summer months, typically in the range of 18° to 19°C. I guess I could turn on the heat to help dry things out, but it seems kinda silly to heat your home in July and August.


Thanks, Paul. Good to know.

I live in a milder climate where mould tends to be a problem in winter rather than in summer. I think heat recovery ventilation would work better here than it does in your situation.

Do you actually need ventilation in that area? Unless you're down there often (or have a radon problem) it would seem to be an option to seal the area to keep air from exchanging and adding humidity back into it.

The only time we operate the ventilation system is if we have overnight guests staying with us (there's a small, self-contained "in-law" suite that's used for this purpose). I haven't identified the source(s) of this moisture, but I dump anywhere from eight to twelve litres of condensate per day, pretty much day-in, day-out.


Thanks Paul.

I hope you have good luck with it. Some of the reviews (amazon, sears.com) about related models are less than stellar and talk about the units dying on their 2nd or 3rd year. We have some old model that is probably 10 years old but I think it's about 700 watts and runs a lot.

How is your Nyle Geyser? The literature is very vague about how much is helps with the dehumidification of an area. Do you have figures of how much it saved you by running your old dehumidifier less?

At risk of over-repeating my own experience on this, my Nyle Geyser has been making an otherwise damp basement far better managed.. although this is not a finished basement, so it's really helping to just dry up the sweat on the rock foundation and concrete floor after rains and laundry runs, etc.. as well as being brilliant at recycling the dryer's exhaust throughout the winter back into hot water again, instead of providing decorative icicles and steam clouds out in the back yard.

I'm not with it this summer, but on my visits home the RH seems to sit in the 50s and 60s by the end of a heating cycle, and all the shop rags and rugs can be hung to dry out in front of it for pretty much immediate availability again. (Nice to have an air-conditioned workshop on the sweaty days, too!)

Hey Bob,

Glad to hear you're still pleased with your Nyle. I believe there are three of us on this forum who own one (Stump Jumper being the third?) and we've all spoken positively of our experiences to date. That's a good sign.

We don't use a lot of hot water (between my partner and I, maybe 25 litres a day, tops), so the de-humidification benefits are more modest than your own. Nonetheless, every litre of moisture removed is welcome, indeed.


I'm certainly pleased with it as a landlord, knowing there will always be demand for hot water.. alas, I'm also still keening for the opportunity to finish the plan and get that big storage tank (~260gal) taking some of it's heat from my rooftop Copper Flatplates as well.. but not yet.

I'm working on 'Rachel Ray' for a few days, then back to swinging hammers in the windows with the rest of the Invisible Hands that make a good NYC Christmas so animated and marketable!

Thanks, sharppa. I don't know if this would be a reliable guide, but this new unit was made in China and is roughly half the weight of the one it replaces, a Kenmore 25044 made in Canada. You get the sense that it may not be built for the long haul, but one never knows.

I'm passing the old guy on to a friend who's dehumidifier (another Kenmore) dates back to the days of platform shoes, polyester leisure suits and AMC Pacers. Built like a tank and still runs fine, but no doubt guzzles down way more electricity than the one he will be inheriting. I don't like the idea of trading-off product life for greater energy savings, but that seems to be Faustian bargain we face today.

I couldn't be more pleased with our Nyle. It's hard to say how much moisture it removes through the course of the day, but I can tell you that our total usage this most recent billing cycle is down almost 20 per cent (I'll know the exact numbers when I receive my statement most likely this week). The Geyser is a well engineered, quality built product that should provide many years of trouble-free service. One of my best decisions ever.

Just crossed the 24-hour mark moments ago, and the power monitor shows 7.46 kWh were used. Again, based on the 1.85 and 1.30 l/kWh EF ratings, our old unit would have consumed 10.62 kWh, so we're looking at a net savings of about 3.2 kWh/day, assuming that today's humidity loads are fairly representative, which is probably the case.


The ultra-aire dehumidifies have impressive energy factors... http://www.ultra-aire.com/products/dehumidifiers

there is also Santa Fe, which I think is the consumer version of the contractor grade Ultra-Aire... http://www.santa-fe-products.com/products/product-comparison.html

The Ultra-Aire XT105H has an Energy factor of 4.2 L/kWh.

I keep looking at them but their documentation doesn't explain how to hook it up with my HRV. Will put it off for another year as the humid season here is almost over.

Hey aws,

I was looking at their website earlier today, but I don't have enough space in our utility room to accommodate one and I suspect they're priced well out of my reach; for the time being, a standard, residential-grade portable unit will have to suffice. That said, a dehumidifier that's over twice as efficient as our new model, and more than three times as efficient as the one it replaces is tempting, even if the numbers don't pencil-out.


You are right they are not inexpensive! Comparatively.

The "Santa Fe" efficiency rating (and presumably others) is "at 80°F and 60% RH". I don't have precise measurements like Paul & Bob have, but I get the impression that efficiency at other ambient conditions varies widely.

In my basement I sometimes run an ancient dehumidifer (Sears brand) that "came with the house", it's at least 30 years old, portable model, uses about 150 watts, and in late summer conditions (about 66F and very humid, probably 90%+) squeezes at least 3 liters out of the basement air per KWH. I cannot use it until the basement temperature reaches 60F in early summer, below that its coil ices up.

A couple of years ago I bought a new dehumidifier, thinking I'd use it sometimes in the basement and sometimes upstairs. Chose a model that promises to run down to 40F. In actual usage in the basement, at around 55F, it didn't ice up, but it seemed to produce a disappointingly small amount of condensed water, while consuming 450 watts. Upstairs at more like 85°F and 70% RH it seems much more efficient. My guess is that its cold coil gets much less cold than the old unit, and is thus rather inefficient in cool conditions.

Hi VT,

Temperature and relative humidity have a huge bearing on overall efficacy, as you would expect. I just emptied the bucket on our new unit which supposedly holds eight litres, and the power monitor showed that it had consumed 7.77 kWh when it turned itself off, so that puts its observed EF at slightly more than one litre per kWh; this, at an average room temperature of just under 19°C and an average maintained humidity of approximately 50 per cent. I'm guessing that its predecessor would have performed in a similar fashion, and that the hit would have been proportionately the same.


Paul. First, thanks much for all the useful, detailed info over the years, I have profited from it, as I am sure have many others.

Q- Hailfax gets pretty chilly in winter. Isn't there some hole or lake or something within reach that keeps some chill over the seasons? I remember visiting my mother in law in Maine one hot summer, and found she was right next to a lake with cold water at its bottom. A garden hose and a small pump was all I needed to chill off her little house.

I use a big old cistern here for similar purposes.

Thanks for your kind words, wimbi; they're very much appreciated.

We have a good size property, but we're basically built on solid rock, so an air source heat pump is, realistically speaking, our best option.

Last winter was fairly typical for these parts, and the following table provides a breakout of the average hourly temperature and recorded highs and lows for the month; our home's estimated space heating demand, assuming an average heat loss of 0.175 kW per °C and a demand set point of 13°C; and the actual kWh consumption of our two ductless heat pumps.

 photo 2012-2013Summary_zpsbdf18ce2.jpg

Our Sanyos have a rated HSPF of 9.3 (Zone 4), which translates to be a seasonal COP of 2.72. We straddle Zones 4 and Zone 5, and our estimated seasonal COP this past winter was 2.46, so weren't too far off the mark.

There were only eight hours last year when temperatures dipped below -20°C, which is the point where we would need to call upon a back-up heat source. However, these eight hours were scattered throughout the month of February and occurred during the overnight hours, so there was minimal impact on personal comfort. To maximize overall efficiency and to minimize the need for back-up heat, we let room temperatures rise and fall within the general bounds of comfort. This allows us to "bank" surplus heat during the daytime when it is generally several degrees milder, and use our home's thermal mass to ride-out the overnight hours when temperatures fall. Being a maritime climate, our winter temperatures tend to bounce all over the map, so using our home's structure and contents as a thermal flywheel and, in effect, "making hay whilst the sun shines" and drawing upon our thermal stocks as required, carries us the distance.

If we were serious about further reducing our space heating demands, we could replace our Sanyos with a couple Fujitsu 12RLS2; with a HSPF of 12.0, that would theoretically trim our energy usage by about 1,000 kWh a year. When our heat pumps come to the end of their natural lives in another ten to fifteen years, I expect their replacements will be even better than anything available today.

I want to add that I greatly admire the work you do in your community and wish you every success in all your endeavours. I don't know if you have a personal blog or share your experiences and insight on other forums, but I would be keen to follow your progress. I'm glad that you don't let the naysayers and malcontents have the last word. Keep up the good fight !


vt - take a look at Dew Point and it should explain your results. Long story short and oversimplified, relative humidity is a product of the difference between dew point (saturation point) and temperature (actually partial pressures but shhhh!). When your dew point equals your temperature you have 100% RH.

So with your upstairs at 85F - the dehumidifier might be bringing your dew point down to say 40F - giving you a difference between the temperature and the saturation point of delta45F. Which will yield a low relative humidity.

With the downstairs at 55F - if the dehumidifier brings the dew point down to the same 40F - this will only give you a delta15F difference and the relative humidity will still appear high.

You're obviously bounded at 32F for coil freezing, so you can put a bigger difference between the dew point and the temperature upstairs than you can downstairs. You'll also saturate much sooner downstairs than up because the cooler temperatures will not "hold" as much water.

You might find amusement in sling psychrometers which find "wet bulb" temperatures which you can then use with a chart to computer RH.

More analysis of the Australian electricity market:

The great de-electrification

One of the certainties in the energy business used to be the regular year-in, year-out rise in demand for electricity [1].

Up until about 6 years ago, demand growth could be counted on with metronomic precision. Across our National Electricity Market – the NEM – electricity demand grew at about 2% annually.

That all stopped in 2008. On the basis of the numbers for June and July this year, we are on the verge of our twelfth straight season where demand has reduced on the year before.

See: http://theconversation.com/the-great-de-electrification-16687

Who would have thunk-it?


That situation is similar to the experience in the US after the Arab/OPEC Embargo of 1973 and the later Iranian Crisis. Up to that time, the growth of electric demand had been about 7% a year. That's a doubling time of 10 years and the utilities were planning on that rate to continue into the foreseeable future. The market price of electricity took a large jump along with the price of oil and people began to conserve a bit. As a result, all that planned generation capacity suddenly was excessive. Many plants were canceled and some utilities suffered.

Perhaps the best known example was the Washington Public Power supply System, which planned to build 5 nuclear power plants, but was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1983 after canceling construction on 2 of them. At the time, the default ($2.25 billion in bonds) was the largest municipal default in history.

Many more details are available in this article from 1984: Lessons From WPPSS..

E. Swanson

I remember getting pieces of the bonds (in my case, the principle/interest was insured, so someone else took the hit). They were paying 14% taxfree!

Well if demand grow as 2%, it would seem that new energy needs could largely be met by new solar and wind installations alone. But I guess there will be turn-over as old plants are put into retirement and they'll need replacement with natural gas or nuclear.

AGL says 9GW of baseload fossil fuels no longer needed (reneweconomy)

AGL Energy, one of the big three power utilities in Australia, says that 9,000MW of fossil-fuel baseload capacity needs to be taken out of the national electricity market (NEM) to bring it back into balance.
The claim was made by managing director Michael Fraser, on Wednesday, at the announcement that AGL Energy had secured extra financing for its 155MW solar PV project in western NSW – the first solar project of its scale to be built in Australia.

Anyone follow Stoneleigh at The Automatic Earth (she used to run TOD Canada)? I am getting a Trojan Horse warning from my antivirus when I try to go to that site. Anyone know what is happening?

TAE is fine frome here ...

There's ~25 curies of tritium in a self-luminescent exit-sign, that's ~1 TBq. 20-40 Tbq is thusly 20-40 improperly disposed of exit signs(such as exit signs destroyed in a fire or land-filled).

It is generally agreed that exit signs do not pose a serious radiological hazzard even if you break one. All you need to do is open a door or window and ventilate the area. Tritium is a piss-weak beta emitter(19 keV), it does not accumulate in the body, having a biological half-life that is the same as normal water(~10 days); it does not concentrate upwards in the food chain.

But we also can pretty well appreciate that even if it's tritium they took readings for, that the wastewater will not be limited to that one waste product. It's presented as an indicator of leakage routes, which are clearly abundant around Fuku Daichi.

25 curies = 92.5 GBq

You're low by a power of 10.

The beta radiation does not penetrate the glass tube and phosphors in the sign which minimizes external exposure to people from a properly functioning sign. Tritium combines with oxygen to make water. Ingesting tritium is much more dangerous because the emitted electrons will damage tissue. Don't kid yourself.

Or you could consume bananas served on granite platters while on vacation at the hot springs in Mahallat, and probably end up with fewer rads than any medical diagnosis, and far, far, far, far less damage than from daily exposure to car exhaust. Why cars do not come with surgeon general's warnings is beyond baffling.

Where on earth have the IAEA gone? How come they were all over Iran like a rash, but here we have a Fukishima a truly horrific diaster still playing out and I havn't heard a single peep in the media about the IAEA intervening or inspecting or ANYTHING??!!!!!

Looks like there might be a report in the making..


An IAEA expert mission composed of 16 experts from eight countries and IAEA staff visited Fukushima Prefecture from 21 to 26 July 2013, to start implementation of the Practical Arrangements signed in December 2012 and April 2013 respectively between the Fukushima Prefecture and the IAEA.

The estimate is that flaring of natural gas in the Bakken wasted $1,000,000,000 worth of resources in 2012.


Chesapeake Energy sold off its assets in Northern Eagle Ford and Haynesville for the same amount

Something is really screwed up in how we handle our resources.

It's a question of what factor is being optimized. I'm not at all sure profit is the optimal choice.

Has my vote for biggest understatement of the year.

I'll second that vote!