Will there ever be self-sufficiency in energy?

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Will there ever be self-sufficiency in energy?

During the housing boom that followed WWII electricity was still considered a modern convenience rather than the necessity it has become. Think about it in the late 1940’s how many homes had television, or a central HVAC system? Not to mention computers, stereo, gaming consoles, and so on. In fact many homes still used “ice boxes” instead of refrigerators. As time has passed the need for more electricity and more outlets in our homes has increased with each decade. Now here we are in the 21st century and our homes are still designed and built like electricity is a convenience more than a necessity of modern life. How many of us could do without our cell phones, refrigerators, water heaters, television, computers or the internet indefinitely?

I am in constant wonder about how easily modern homes can be rendered impotent by such naturally occurring events such as high winds. “Super Storm Sandy” and many other storms just this season have emphasized this fact. Our modern-day world relies on the availability of a constant supply of power, and without the power our modern world ceases to exist. Without a supply of potable water a home’s livability is hampered but unlike power water can be transported to our home without a great deal of trouble. Without power our homes livability is severely diminished and unlike water power is not easily transported. In most cases power on the scale that is used in a home must be generated.

Electricity-Prices

So then, what are some solutions to grid power outages? Natural gas or fossil fueled emergency generators set to automatically come on-line in the event of a disruption in the grid provided power. While these backup generators are initially less expensive to install, extended use fuel and maintenance costs make these systems more expensive than their solar and wind alternatives. Portable generators, usually fossil fueled are a temporary fix, but portable generators must be stored, have operating fuel available and be hooked up. Solar panels and wind turbines would be the best way but not all areas of the country benefit the same from either wind or solar. The initial expense of wind or solar systems is enormous considering the age of the technology and wind turbines are not practical in many places.

To most people it would be a given that their home in the largest single investment of their lifetimes, so why are the homes of today that depend so much on electrical power tied to a grid that is subject to the whims of forseeable and predictable seasonal events? In the 21st century mind-set of residential design and construction should be energy self-sufficiency versus electrical grid dependency. Along with the energy self-sufficiency should always be designing and building for energy efficiency. In a 21st century market should we not be designing and building for 21st century home owners and the needs of those home owners?

Our existing electrical grid generates power constantly whether there is a need or not. More and more during peak usage periods, large metropolitan grids are subjected to “rolling blackouts” or brown outs in an attempt by the power generators to keep up with increased demand. There is no way to store massive amounts of power. With more homes creating their own electricity and allowing the grid to use the excess the less the strain would be on and already overworked grid. Already the producers of electricity are in a constant battle to stay ahead of increasing demand and replacing aging equipment.  This battle is expensive and the price is always passed on to the end-user. Would it not be better if today’s new home buyer had a choice about the future cost of maintaining what is necessary to all modern homes?

Bill Tucker – Design Professional

Gould Design, Inc.

6 comments

  1. I am constantly amazed at the lack of solar power here in Las Vegas NV. We get very good sunny days for 340+ days a year, unfortunately the Energy Companies that supply the electricity have the market sown up so tight (WIth the local councils full permission) its difficult to get permission to build solar units. There are a couple of new Power stations that carry solar as a back up but prefer Fossil fuel, I am not sure of the reason. We did an install for a local company that has solar power for the factory, and the hoops we went through were unbeleiveable. I think we need to make the solar industry more integrateable (It there is such a word) into the mainstream.

    1. I have family that lives there and could not agree more. We are destroying our planet for the sake of some paper with ink on it that we call money. If each of us do our part, we can help change the level of complacency out there. Remember, who we are when noone is looking is more important than who we ppear to be when they are!

    1. “Pay It Forward” and tell the world! Feed the grid instead of draining it! I spend alot of time helping others with this mindset and that is what this blog is all about! We are not afraid to share our secrets. Tell the world. Vote for us! The 2013 Best Construction Blog competition is underway. “2013 Best Construction Blog competition” http://constructionmarketingideas.com/the-2013-best-construction-blog-competition/

  2. I feel that the electrical energy source of the future has not been found yet. Solar energy, right now, is the easiest and in my opinion is the cheapest source. It is available to everyone on the planet. I don’t know why the power companies don’t offer a way to subsidize and install solar panels on all their customers homes for a never ending supply of power.