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Current Topic: Home and Garden

Amb. Marc Ginsberg: Obama's New Deal for America
Topic: Home and Garden 8:36 pm EDT, Oct  8, 2008

Accordingly, coupled with his affordable health care program, necessary tax reductions and renewable energy incentives the components of the Obama "New Deal" for middle-income America could include the following options:

There's a thick sheen of partisan rhetoric pasted over this posting, but I like a lot of the points that he articulates as part of the plan, save for the last one about tax credits for 401k losses. I would also tone down the unemployment program numbers. This would be especially necessary because if you believe the other components should work and that other programs will be successful (green jobs, investment in alternative energy, new infrastructure programs, etc) then unemployment will be a temporary bump.

Amb. Marc Ginsberg: Obama's New Deal for America

e-Mealz - A Meal Planning Resource for Busy Moms and Frugal Family Cooks
Topic: Home and Garden 1:08 pm EDT, Sep  9, 2008

You choose the store. We provide the plan!

Each week you will receive a brand new plan AND a complete, aisle-by-aisle grocery list.

I thought this was an interesting service. My sister-in-law raves about it.

e-Mealz - A Meal Planning Resource for Busy Moms and Frugal Family Cooks

Backyard Fuel Cell
Topic: Home and Garden 6:28 pm EST, Mar  1, 2007

So with the help of two buddies, Friend, a Merck vice president and pioneer in digital gene arrays, drew a back-of-the-envelope plan for an energy storage system that extends the life of battery banks. In 2004, they started rigging up a Rube Goldberg contraption that uses solar panels and electrolyzers to generate hydrogen and allows Web-based monitoring of its proton-exchange-membrane fuel cell.

I've been tinkering with something very similar to this for a few years now. This was my original concept as well, that you could use hydrogen as a storage medium for backup electricity. It actually does work. I wasn't using a lab grade or even industrial grade electrolyzer, and I was able to make a good yield of hydrogen from water. Even filtered rain water will do, although the pH value of rain water vs potable water can take the yield down about 20%. Storing hydrogen is not trivial, but it can be done. I did use a very simple fuel cell to convert it back to electricity just to see that it would work. It does, but the yields were not great due to the fact that the fuel cell was not sophisticated. The point really was that I generated a usable amount of electricity from nothing but sunshine and rainwater, which is about as sustainable as you're going to get.

I've talked to several 'experts' about this setup, and everyone I've talked to says that deep cycle gel batteries are a better storage medium than hydrogen. The down side to batteries is that they need to be vented appropriately (you'll have the same problem with a high quality fuel cell as they need induction air) and you'll have to replace them in about 3-5 years, depending on how many cycles they're given. The cost outcome ends up being still in battery's favor as the duty cycle for high end fuel cells is still not that great (5-8 years).

All in, as an investment, it still doesn't work out. You're spending well over $1/KWH, where a >$1 rate is just break even. In TVA-Land, this is ludicrous. Still, if your conscious tells you that this makes sense, then the pricing isn't so outrageous that you couldn't do it. I believe that systems like this will get more efficient in the next 5 years and end up being about 2x what you'd spend for a grid tied system. This is very similar to buying a tankless water heater. They last longer, are more energy efficient, and only cost about 2x what you'd be spending anyways (including duty cycle).

I live in an urban neighborhood. So there are other constraints I'm dealing with (historic zoning, space issues, codes, and complexities of actually maintaining the system). But if this were for a rural cabin I'd do it in a second.

Backyard Fuel Cell

Solar power eliminates utility bills in U.S. home
Topic: Home and Garden 11:55 am EST, Jan 19, 2007

Strizki runs the 3,000-square-foot house with electricity generated by a 1,000-square-foot roof full of photovoltaic cells on a nearby building, an electrolyzer that uses the solar power to generate hydrogen from water, and a number of hydrogen tanks that store the gas until it is needed by the fuel cell.

I had roughed up a similar system for my house, which I hope to renovate and expand in the next 12 months. In my system, I could generate adequate power even in the winter because TN gets enough sunlight. The big reason why I doubt I'll do it is cost. It would cost an additional $75K and even when amortized, would still be a significant cost driver for operating the home. My alternative system would use a geo-thermal heating and cooling system which can still be ran by solar panels. The rest of the energy consumption would come from utilities, but since HVAC is the highest draw, would cut my utilities by over 2/3, particularly in the summer.

Solar power eliminates utility bills in U.S. home

Power House kit - experiments in sustainable alternative energy
Topic: Home and Garden 10:52 am EDT, Jun 23, 2005

With this Power House kit you can build a model house complete with solar panels, windmill, greenhouse, and desalination system. You can build and operate an electric train, windmill, solar cooker, solar hot water tank, hygrometer, electric motor, power hoist, sail car, and more!

Everyone: get this for your nieces and nephews.

Power House kit - experiments in sustainable alternative energy

Curby recycling service now will pick up plastic bottles - Wednesday, 04/20/05
Topic: Home and Garden 11:01 pm EDT, Apr 20, 2005

] With Earth Day just around the corner, there is good news
] for Davidson County recyclers: Curby, the curbside
] recycling service in Metro Nashville, this week started
] accepting plastic bottles.
] Milk jugs, household cleaner bottles, shampoo and lotion
] bottles and soft drink and water bottles %u2014 if it's
] plastic, they'll take it.


Curby recycling service now will pick up plastic bottles - Wednesday, 04/20/05

In Real Estate Fever, More Signs of Sickness
Topic: Home and Garden 12:10 am EDT, Apr 17, 2005

] While the economists debate, the tight market is changing
] lives. Sharon McKee just bought a one-bedroom, one-bath
] condominium, without parking, in the Logan Circle
] neighborhood of the District. It was listed at $375,000,
] but McKee raised her offer to $412,000 to beat out
] several other bidders.


In Real Estate Fever, More Signs of Sickness

Japanese Gardens
Topic: Home and Garden 10:37 am EDT, Apr 21, 2004

and built this place beside the mountain.
Among the trees there is no worldly noise;
beneath the eaves, the tranquil flow of a stream...
 -- Ishikawa Jozan ( founder of Shisendo )"

Japanese Gardens, extensive database of gardens and resources.

Japanese Gardens

TVA: Solar Power
Topic: Home and Garden 1:17 am EDT, Sep  1, 2003

TVA's Solar Power home page.

TVA: Solar Power

A fantastic resource for renewable energy
Topic: Home and Garden 12:13 am EDT, Sep  1, 2003

] The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy
] (DSIRE) is a comprehensive source of information on
] state, local, utility, and selected federal incentives
] that promote renewable energy.

A fantastic resource for renewable energy

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