Climate Crisis — Got Energy? – Daily Kos

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This week’s question is Got Energy?

This Is Our Energy Situation
We live in an apartment in SF.  San Francisco was famously called “the City air-conditioned by God” (by Herb Caen) because it can be 110°F in northern CA but, as you come down 101 and look across the bay to SF, you see fog instead of a city and relax because you know you’re going to get cool as soon as you cross the bridge.  Though we are losing our fog to climate change, the architectural result of this before-climate is that only the newest of SF buildings have air-conditioning.  And, because our weather was so regular and almost never got below freezing, and because so many of the houses are Victorian or Queen Anne or post-war ticky-tacky, there is a great lack of insulation city-wide.  

In fact I lived in a Victorian where the fog used to roll in through the walls.

We also are stuck with PG&E, an energy company devoted to profit over safety.  The majority of the energy from PG&E, even with the “100% green mix”, is Hetch Hetchy hydro, with some other large hydro, a chunk of nuke, and bits of wind and solar mixed in.  But PG&E isn’t dependable, they have a substantial body count, and the majority of this energy comes from a dam that is 167 miles away.  Drought, disaster, and corporate incompetence have and will again threaten, reduce, and eliminate energy from PG&E.

I Can Produce Some Energy Myself, But Not Enough
I have small solar lights, two different types: one kind shaped like a light bulb that hangs from a hook and comes with a separate ~3”x5” solar panel, the other kind that has a stand/hook and a solar panel built in on the back.  The ones with separate solar panels tend to be good for 3-4 days in small, windowless, frequently-used space (bathroom, closet) between recharges.  They don’t do too well when dropped, and about half of ours have stopped working for various causes, leading to e-waste issues.  The second type is still going strong and throws more light overall, but tends to need daily recharging.  It stands up to abuse just fine.

The stand/hook light, from
I got these on Amazon.

We also have hand-crank/solar radios/flashlights.  These also seem to be variably fragile depending on the maker, but the RunningSnail one is doing well many years down the line now.  These live in the window when not being used, and will run for hours on a few hours of sunlight.  There is a definite difference between how long they last during summer and winter, though.

We also have an old Soviet handcrank gyro flashlight that I love.  It works even if you have days and days of no light, and the gyro makes enough noise to scare off most things.  It’s good for building up hand strength.

We have one larger solar panel, about 6”x8”, that stores into a battery to allow USB charging.  It works well for phones, in an emergency for computers (if you keep the energy draw down to a minimum), and for small medical devices (like hearing aids), but that’s the extent of what it’s good for.

We have a small independent pedal generator that can power lamps and can store into a battery (has USB and car cigarette lighter plugs).  I need to get a battery for this set-up; it’s on the list of things to do.

I’ve been recruited at demonstrations where a bike’s back tire is put in a cradle, the rider (me) sits in the saddle and pedals away, and the energy of that pedaling powers the amps or lights or open captioning signs.  I would like to get/make one of these set ups, plus get a battery to dump the power into.  Such a system should be able to do some cooking, especially if using induction cookers, but would be wasted on a hair dryer (for example) and a single rider on a single bike generator couldn’t power a fridge (a real need).  Anyone have recommendations on these type of systems?  

EV bike batteries can probably be used as energy storage, in the same way EV car batteries can.  We don’t have either, so I’m only going on what I’ve heard from other people.  

When We Move
The home we’re moving into when we do move is super insulated, does HVAC by heat pumps, has a minimum of appliances, all the appliances are Energy Star, and has a roof of solar panels.  We don’t know if the solar panels will be sufficient for our energy usage, but it should be very close.

What Are Your Energy Solutions?

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