3000 Miles: Culture, Climate, Building & Kilowatt Sticker Shock

I’ve had a little of all of those in my recent move from California to Virginia.    After 50 years of living in a desert (9 inches of rain per year in California’s San Joaquin Valley) I am amazed that it’s green all year long here in Round Hill Virginia … without irrigation.    P1020867 And there really are 4 real seasons.   After traveling back to CA last week to teach some classes on Energy Wise House Flipping, I noticed some other differences:

1.  There are twice as many Heating Degree Days in my part of Virginia compared to my part of California, (Fresno)    (About 4000 compared to about 2000.)


It was starting to be fall on the Skyline Drive when I arrived 6 weeks ago. Now it's fall everywhere.

This would seem to indicate a need to build better and tighter … and a greater interest in Energy Efficient Building … And there is some interest at a philosophical level.   But when it comes down to the bottom line, the cheap kilowatts keep the interest down.    (About 7 cents here vs 12 to 48 cents in CA.)   I’m not exactly sure why that disparity is so great … I think it has something to do with cheap coal from mountain top mining in West Virginia, our next door neighbor….    Why California kilowatts cost so much,…  I’m leaving that to my home performance colleagues and the new governor…  In the meantime, I’ll be looking for a way to get Virginians who only pay 7 cents a kilowatt interested in buying energy efficient renovations.   I’ll keep you posted.

2.  Production Builders are Production Builders.    I think Luelle and I chose one of the best,  K Hovnanian,  but for a guy who just came back from the Passiv Haus conference  in Germany, loaded with the best energy saving technology on the planet … it was hard to accept not being able to change anything … at least not energy wise.  The Khov team did a great job with the house wrap. (and a little foam on the band joists)  Final CFM50's were 1600 on over 4000 sq ft including the basement.   I was pleasantly surprised ... but want tighter still, of course.   I'll blog about it here. Other than that, the team did a wonderful job and the house is beautiful.    It will give me many projects to blog about here as I “finish it up.”

3.  I just finished installing my TED  , The Energy Detective.   It’s the old model 1000, that I’ve had for several years, and brought with me from California,  still a good monitor, but without the bells and whistles of the new model 5000 which will read out thru Google Power Montitor.   I hooked up the CT’s in my breaker box and programed in the electric rates and “Voila!”  Reverse sticker shock … I’ve been watching the monitor for a half hour now … the cost per hour cycles between 3 and 6 cents per hour!    It’s going to be even more of a challenge to get people interested in saving energy with these cheap kilowatts.    But I have a plan … I’ll post the progress here.

BTW I shot a video of installing the TED.   It’ll be up in a few days.    It’s really easy to install and I recommend everyone have one … Unless you want to move up to the next level and monitor every circuit with the e monitor.

I just finished installing my old TED that I brought with me from California.   Programming in the Virginia power rates was an eye opener.   About half of the "lifeline" allowance that I had in California.  !!!

I just finished installing my old TED that I brought with me from California. Programming in the Virginia power rates was an eye opener. About half of the "lifeline" allowance that I had in California. !!!

I’ll video the install of that one too after it arrives.     The feedback is really cool.   Some will confirm what you already suspect … and some will surprise you.   In either case, you’ll change your power management and save money!

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
  1. Dave Eakin

    Dave – emailed you some time ago after the Home Energy article. Just out of curiosity, did you have your new home built under the Energy Star requirements? I am doing energy auditing part-time now and it is so discouraging to see what builders have done and still are doing to homeowners unless they are being held to an outside standard.


Copyright © 2010 New Site For Green Earth Equities     Log in     Design by Real Estate Tomato     Powered by Tomato Real Estate Blogs

Powered by WishList Member - Membership Software