home energy checklist

energy history graph

In the US, the average household consumes 10,766 kilowatt hours or 897kWh a month. Louisiana is 14,881 kWh per year, Hawaii is the lowest at 6000 kWh per year.

With our 2 bed/1 bath house, we consumed 4748 kWh in 2008-2009 about 389 kWh per month. We're now at 2800 kWh for this year or 235 kWh per month, 154 kWh per month less.  Daily, we use about 3kWh to 10kWh a day. Can attribute the low usage mostly because of Oakland's temperate weather  and we made some energy efficient choices too over the years.

Here's a home energy checklist but for the most part this is what we did:

  • efficient properly sized central A/C and heater w/ Nest thermostat
    • double-pane windows (that we open when it's too hot instead of running A/C)
    • insulated attic (made a huge! difference) and subfloors, we could further insulate our walls but it would be expensive to do
    • strategic exterior landscaping provides shade to the house
  • energy star efficient appliances: refrigerator, dishwasher, front loading washing machine (spins out excess water)
  • efficient gas range and clothes dryer (gas dryer heats up and dries faster than electric)
  • LED light bulbs for every light (only a couple of CFLs in the bathroom) 3-20 watts per bulb down from 60-100 watts
  • efficient electronics, laptops e.g. Apple TV at .03 watts standby/5 watts on, down from DirecTV receiver's 18 watts standby/20 watts on
  • NOT buying high energy use/always on products and products we don't need

The only thing left to do is to update our gas tank hot water heater to a more efficient tankless water heater but that's not going to effect our energy usage that much. Not really that big a deal.

We also could install solar panels but as I had posted before, at 235 kWh a month, solar panel installation would need to be around $5k for us to breakeven.

What's great is that we aren't compromising convenience with being energy efficient nor are we overpaying to conserve energy. It's a bit of location luck and buying ready products that are thankfully environmentally sound.

porcupine roach – revisited

These porcupine roaches are absolutely gorgeous. The small one is actually a turkey beard roach made out of turkey beard and deer hair.

These headdresses are made by Dancer's Choice which is aptly named.

Porcupine roaches are hard to make. Sounds like the maker sources the porcupine hides and gathers the porcupine guard hair and quills himself. The hardest part of roach making is sorting the hair into the different lengths. Another hard part is the base. If it's a premade cotton base, obviously it's not hard. A traditional base though is made out of deer tail hair that's been tied to a cord and then trimmed short and then sewed to make the base.

The rest of the time consuming build is tying and then sewing. It's the shape — where it spreads and how it tapers —  is what really makes a well made porcupine roach stand out (although flat or upright is a style choice with flatter/spread roaches for grass and traditional dancers while straight and fancy dancers may prefer more upright roaches).

I would guess these porcupine roaches would run into the $500-$1000 range depending on length but probably best to ask the maker. Usual lengths are 15" – 24" depending on a dancer's style (e.g. Fancy vs Grass dance). Really beautiful work on these porcupine roaches.

HP M281fdw printer – we like it

HP 281fdw

We're liking this HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M281fdw printer. We're coming from a Canon Pixma MP530 that we've had since December of 2006. The Canon stopped printing well and we haven't been able to scan documents for a good 4 years or so. Anyway, it was time.

This new HP printer is nice at only $350 especially for a color laser printer which would've been $2000 in 1998. The build quality looks good, print quality is sharp and bright and not "inky" (feels baked). It takes a minute or two to start up but the printing is fast. Haven't played around with the rest of the features like fax or scan. The wireless printing was easy to set up and works with MacOS (High Sierra/Mojave) seamlessly.

The printer is actually a good size, it's a little tall but not too wide and good depth to fit on our credenza. Would totally recommend this printer. Wirecutter has some good printer reviews if you're looking for some more options.

Dyafa Oakland – yum

maklouba
from Instagram – Maklouba with Arabic rice and fried eggplant

The food at Dyafa Oakland is delicious, definitely go eat there. It's a "A Reem AssilDaniel Patterson partnership brings Middle Eastern snacks & mains to friendly quarters." Effectively it's an approachable Syrian restaurant in Jack London Square, Oakland.

Drink these cocktails: Dark-skinned nightingale and Dabke on the Moon. Order all the breads. We liked the muhammara, hummus kawarma!, hindbeh, the fish and the lamb shank. We have to go back and try the rest of the menu. The kenafeh was a nice way to end the meal. Chef Patterson served us dessert which was cool.

The accolades to Dyafa are deserving and we were already planning a return visit before dessert came.

Some links:

 

charging stations > gas stations

charging station

The electric car charging station at Kirkwood Mountain resort has six Tesla chargers and two by Clipper Creek. This was put in two years ago, and during ski season it's pretty busy.

What's notable is that there isn't a gas station at Kirkwood. There's like a gas pump with one type of gas (which is usually out of order) a 1/2 -mile before you enter the resort and that's it. The next gas station is a good 13 miles away.

Feels like these electric charging stations are the future. Why go to a gas station when you can charge your car at home, at work, or at your destination (like at Target via Volvo). Do have to love the direction where all this is going ->  no more gas, no more gas station visits, and hopefully renewable energy to power your car. Bright future for sure.

 

BMW iX3 concept – maybe

Here's the BMW iX3 concept version released today. I'm hoping the designers move towards a sportier/outdoorsy take rather than a people/kid mover. We take our X3 out in the snow, to triathlons, to other races, and we're putting road bikes and other gear in or on top of it.

I read the range will be 250 miles to start but 300-400 mile range would be nice. Who knows what the final specs will really be until it actually starts shipping. Apparently, iX3 will be made from China which makes sense from a demand/volume/production standpoint and China's strategic investments in lithium.

2025 is when we'll do a realistic evaluation to see if the BMW iX3 works for us, that or the Tesla Y. By then, range and features should be really good and hopefully costs will be reasonable/par with current car prices.

tankless water heater – redux

Takagi T-H3M-DV-N
Takagi T-H3M-DV-N

The last time I wrote about tankless water heaters was in 2006 and our current water heater is still going strong.

You could say I'm jinxing it but we have a 9 year tank that's 16 years old. We might be able to get another 4 years out of it or it might go within the next year. Probably best to be prepared and still best to wait it out.

The tankless water heater I'm looking at now is the Takagi T-H3M-DV-N. It's a condensing natural gas version with a 0.93 energy factor, 1/2" gas line, 6.6 gallons per minute flow, and a 15 year lifespan/warranty. It's for indoor use and vents via pvc.

What's new(er) in tankless water heater technology is the fact that they're able to use a 1/2" gas line whereas before you might have needed to upgrade to a 3/4" gas line which would've been an expensive retrofit. The condensing feature is new which drives the efficiency to the higher 0.93 energy factor. Also, the use of pvc for venting and then the whole connecting to a network and managing stuff via smartphone (overkill) are also new.

These newer tankless water heater units are now cheaper and also cheaper to install because of what I've mentioned already with no gas line retrofit and pvc venting. Before, cost to install would be $3,000 – $4,000 and now we're looking at under $1,500.

Takagai, Noritz, and Rinnai are brands that folks seem to like.

 

the right color blue

I think our house is the right color blue (Kelly-Moore: Postcard Perfect KM3118-2/#7d9dbc for color but Benjamin Moore paint done via Cydney Ortzow Painting).

We asked if our house was too blue 13 years ago and it might have been without the landscaping and plants. As an aside, I need to put up the American flag again and if we switch out from DirecTV to DirecTV Now, we can take down the satellite dish.

Another aside, based on How many times does the average person move? (11.4 times!) we're on the opposite end of that spectrum. My number is 8 times.

Built in 1924, the house still looks pretty good.