Since diving into the deep end when it comes to energy issues, almost every day sees new fascinating concepts, approaches, and technologies. Exciting. Hope inspring. Truly Energy COOL. And, well, there are others on the hunt for those Energy COOL opportunities for fostering a better future.
When I win the lottery …
When I win the lottery, the list is long. Act Blue here I come. Windmill turbine investing here I come. And, well, there are some really Energy COOL items that would become part of my life. The good news: I think that these high-end systems will, hopefully quickly, move down the cost spectrum and move from luxury to mainstream.
So, here are some items that are on that lottery-winning shopping list that will see improved affordability (whether by this company or emerging competitor)
- Hybrid air conditioning systems with ice storage for storing cold from off-peak power (to flatten demand) or intermittent power sources.
- Smart Energy Management and Storage at Home to go with solar power, wind, or other power systems to provide 24/7/365 power surety.
Okay, there are many ways to improve cooling, from passive solar design, to improved insulation/building practices, to household fans, to … But, considering existing air conditioning systems and structures, there is much we can do to make them more energy efficient. Some of this is simple, shading air conditioners from the sun, having a water spray system to use evaporative cooling, and many other ways (see, for example, commercial air conditioning savings options). Moving from the commercial sector into the residential arena are ice-making systems that allow making ice with off-peak (or excess renewable power) to use for cooling when power is more expensive. And, data that I’ve seen suggests that these reduce not just peak power requirements (significantly) but also overall power demand, as it shifts some part of the cooling load from day (hot) to night (cooler … we hope).
Ice Energy is now marketing a system for homeowners. At $7,000, this system probably fits best with the McMansion world (and for those who want to freeze their home to 60 degrees as opposed to the 85 that my house is controlled to). The Ice Bear has 300 gallons of ice storage which the company claims can move 90-95% of the power load to the night/off-peak. Ice Energy® has a range of systems, including some that are being used by commercial companies in San Diego area that are helped with an electrical price break due to shifting power demands to off-peak. They are promising that Ice Energy® products for a wider range of residential applications are planned for 2008. Hmmm … maybe that price cut is not in the distant future.
In general, electrical systems are built for peak power load requirements. Shaving off peak power demands saves significantly in terms of overall system costs. Thus, in addition to saving off one’s own costs, shaving from the peak helps reduce overall costs of the grid.
Plug-And-Play Energy Management
One of the realities and challenges of moving toward a distributed power structure is the shear complexity of figuring out the best options. What solar panels? Wind turbine or not and which one? Back-up power? Inverter? What type of batteries? It is, simply put, a confusing set of choices. And, when it comes down to it, it leads to a vast share of the systems out there being basically designed and developed from ‘scratch’, with DIYers seeking to figure out all these choices for home installation.
One of the paths toward making the right choice, the easy choice with home renewable power is to reduce the confusion, to make these “plug-and-play”, to reduce the DIYer atmosphere for many of the choices and, to be honest, make those rows of battery banks disappear (at least figuratively) from the home.
Gridpoint is part of that plug-and-play system home energy future. The Gridpoint operates as an intermediary between the Grid, local (home or small business) power generation (okay, preferably renewable power), and power management in the home. Rather than rows of battery banks, inverters, and such that need to be designed and take days of installation, Gridpoint takes that work and puts it into the factory. It shows up in a box, a few wire connections, and it is ready to run. (And, one of those connections is into the phone system for remote monitoring of the system’s performance to enable better maintenance/performance.) Gridpoint has the batteries ‘inside the box’, never to be seen by the homeowner unless they’re really desired. I agree with Treehugger
We love the simplicity and scaleability aspect of this design
The challenge is, well, it is a little pricey (about about $10k) in terms of sticker shock, but this system does ease installation of a renewable power and smart power management along with offering a warranty for future performance (along with maintenance).
But, what Gridpoint really points to is a future of easy, off-the-shelf, systems for power management and storage to support a Smart(er) Grid.
Thinking about the Holidays
So, if anyone out there wants to splurge, these are two truly Energy COOL devices that should be part of an Energy Smart future. Whether these brands or others, such plug-and-play paths toward improved energy efficiency and power management should become ever more part of our energy landscape rather than esoteric products for the
EcoGeeks among us.
Now, there are other desired Energy COOL items that I expect (hope) will be falling in price and penetrating into our lives: LED lighting, Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles, solar (and other small-scale) electricity. These are, well, outside the price point for many (most) of us (US) at this time. As part of the path to
Energize America, we can hope (and work to see) that these types of systems become ever more “mass market”, affordable, and simply (well) part of our lives.
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