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Power Demand From US Homes Expected To Fall For a Decade 261

Posted by timothy
from the now-keep-pace-canada dept.
We hear all the time that household energy consumption is rising, both in the U.S. and around the world. That's been true in the big picture for several decades at least, but reader captainkoloth, with his first accepted submission, points to an Associated Press article with some encouraging news on this front: the rate of growth in U.S. household energy use, and household energy use itself, is expected to decline slightly over the next 10 years. Take it for what you will, but that conclusion is drawn by the Electric Power Research Institute, "a nonprofit group funded by the utility industry."
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Power Demand From US Homes Expected To Fall For a Decade

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  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @10:40AM (#37362164)
    As the last of the vacuum tubes (incandescent light bulbs and CRTs) get phased out, power consumption goes down. Now if we could just find a way to get rid of (most) fractional horsepower motors.
    • by bunratty (545641) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @10:57AM (#37362268)
      California's per capita electricity use has been nearly level for decades [thinkprogress.org] due to their energy efficiency standards. Now that similar standards are being adopted nationwide, nationwide electricity use is leveling off. If we try even harder, we can reduce electricity use. Not only does it not harm the economy, it helps us all save money because we're paying for less energy, and we're paying less per unit of energy because demand is lower.
      • by iamhassi (659463) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @12:32PM (#37362780) Journal

        Not only does it not harm the economy, it helps us all save money because we're paying for less energy, and we're paying less per unit of energy because demand is lower.

        Maybe in California, but some parts of the country have seen almost [ksdk.com] yearly [stltoday.com] rate increases [linncountyleader.com], so cutting your energy usage by 30% doesn't help much when they raise rates 30%.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by davester666 (731373)

          I wonder if this 'report' takes into account all these sexy new electric/hybrid vehicles that are going to save Earth from greenhouse gases.

        • by bunratty (545641)
          I'm sure energy prices will continue to go up, even if we use less. As we remove the easiest fossil fuels to remove, the remaining are harder and more costly to remove. But they will go up more slowly if the demand is less.
        • by alexhs (877055)

          cutting your energy usage by 30% doesn't help much when they raise rates 30%.

          You were paying:
          [reference power usage in kWh] * [kWh rate]

          If your usage is reduced by 30% and the rate raised by 30%, you're now paying:
          [reference power usage in kWh] * (1-0.3) * [kWh rate] * (1+0.3) = 0.91 * [reference power usage in kW] * [kWh rate]

          See ? It helped by 9% :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm positive the exact opposite will occur. Again using California as an example, examine their water conservation efforts. First, water utilities actually raised their rates in order to promote "conservation" [latimes.com] (making water unaffordable is not the same as conservation). Then, as the economy tanked AND usage dropped, water utilities raised rates in order to offset decreased revenues [nctimes.com].

        I'm all for conservation, but with union strangleholds on these industries, the government in bed with the unions, all on to

    • by PPH (736903) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @11:46AM (#37362534)

      Now if we could just find a way to get rid of (most) fractional horsepower motors.

      Make that fixed speed, single phase fractional horsepower motors. Three phase motors are more efficient. And even more system efficiencies can be squeezed out by varying motor speed to match the mechanical load.

      As power semiconductor prices come down, small variable frequency drives (VFD) will become common. These take single phase input and produce variable frequency, multiple phase outputs for a motor and provide power factor correction and other efficiency improving functions as well.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        VFD's are the cats meow, but too expensive and complicated for most applications.

        PFC's are becoming insanely popular though, especially in heating and air. anything with 90+ AFU in a furnace will have at least a pfc motor, and the really high end stuff (98+AFU) has continuously variable VFD's for the blower motors. the problem with these motors is that they are MUCH more sensitive to power spikes. after replacing my pfc blower motor for the second time i wised up and put a whole house MOV in the electical p

        • by PPH (736903)

          You do know that most active PFC controllers don't differ significantly from VFDs. Basically, both are a bridge rectifier (sometimes synchronous), a DC link and an inverter stage. The difference between PFC and VFD functions is one of a few algorithms embedded in the driver chips.

          The 'expensive' VFDs you refer to are stand alone controllers designed to be adapted to numerous different applications in the field. But when integrated into high production volumes of consumer goods, they can be optimized and th

      • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

        VFDs for fractional horsepower motors are cost-effective today. EC motors are another option with generally better efficiency.

    • by Technician (215283) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @11:57AM (#37362586)

      Fractional HP motors are not the problem. Bad motors are a problem. Case in point, the circulation pump on a solar installation used a 1/10th HP pump. The pump drew about 300 watts or about the energy of 1/2 hp. The pump was replaced with a DC brushless motor. A single 60 watt PE panel was placed on the roof. Now when the sun shines on the collector the pump runs. This eliminated the differential thermostat controller and 3/4 of the power use to circulate the water. It removed 100% of the need for utility power to run the pump.

      The move was made for two reasons. One was power efficiency. The other was for reliability. The old system would boil over in a power outage. The new one is unaffected by power outages.

      • by DCFusor (1763438)
        Yup. This has been true for a long time. Why should Generous Electric not make motors with too little iron and copper, saving themselves some money if the only increase in cost is to the end-user. And the energy ratings still suck on most appliances, and seem to be going away again. I live off the grid, I care, but lately you can't find a consumption (or even wattage when running) rating on a cheap refrigerator at Lowes...Blank stare is the best you can get. If you do care, it used to be you could go t
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Seriously. Things are getting much more efficient. I can read a book on my laptop using less power than reading a book by an incandescent lightbulb. You can probably read on an iPad using less power than most fluorescent bulbs. Even though we are getting many new devices, we are using a lot less power. Everything is getting more efficient. Now if electric cars ever come into use, watch household usage skyrocket. I wonder how the authors of this study account for unexpected things such as electric car
  • Probably true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday September 10, 2011 @10:43AM (#37362184) Homepage Journal

    If you can't afford to pay the light bill, your electricity consumption is going to decrease sharply.

    • That was my first thought as well. I wonder how the housing market would correlate to electricity demand? But it would seem that more empty houses would = a decrease in demand, to me. I bet shipping all our manufacturing overseas cuts demand, as well.

      But seriously, if your money is tight and there is no sign of a raise in site, the only way to free up money is to cut your bills. If are hovering around minimum wage, you could almost have the choice of an air conditioner or using fan, and being able to afford

      • I doubt that the economy is to blame, is probably just that for some obscure reason(1), your products are getting more energy efficient.

        This summer, I was on vacation in California/Nevada/etc. basically driving from hotel to hotel... And oh the horrors we saw (energy wise), every single room had it's own air conditioning, but then again I suppose central systems are for communists, right :)
        Many places they were also "bright" enough to put the fridge in a closet without ventilation holes, granted I couldn
      • It's BOTH the economy and more efficient products -- but MOSTLY it's the recession.

        Consumers aren't the ONLY ones using electricity. However -- why is the COST not going down?

        I'll answer that with a RELATED bit of information I came across;
        3 Years ago, the amount of refined oil products (like gas and plastics) that was imported was about 3 Billion barrels per day. Now, we export about 1/2 Billion barrels of Gas per day.

        The real value of the dollar, the decreasing usage of transportation (as people DON'T go

    • You are correct that when the cost of energy rises and ways to conserve become affordable as a result, more investment in energy savings will be made.

      I now have a HE washing machine. Almost all incandescent lamps have been replaced with either CF or LED, A PE installation is slowly growing as the cost per watt drops. Insulation has been added. Wall warts are replaced with switch mode instead of transformer type, and I moved to a better insulated home. Sold my old house in the housing bubble to upgrade

    • by guruevi (827432)

      Lights these days should not the major energy expense anymore. I have a fairly large house and all-in-all less than 1kW of lights (LED's and CFL's combined, LED's in areas that are often lit, CFL's in places where nobody ever comes like storage rooms).

      My biggest expense ($25/month total) is my computer habit and air conditioning. But air conditioning will get cheaper as I got a 220V system that can single-handedly cool most of the house. The previous 110V systems combined used 1.5x the energy for 75% of the

  • by Vintermann (400722) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @10:43AM (#37362186) Homepage

    Power demand is not falling, increase in power demand is falling. Or is it increase in the speed of increase in power demand? Some derivative, anyway.

    • by digsbo (1292334)
      Read TFA. It says total household use is expected to decline in absolute terms, but this will be offset by increases in commercial/industrial use.
    • According the TFA, they apparently do think that actual demand will also fall:

      From 1980 to 2000, residential power demand grew by about 2.5 percent a year. From 2000 to 2010, the growth rate slowed to 2 percent. Over the next 10 years, demand is expected to decline by about 0.5 percent a year, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit group funded by the utility industry.

      Of course, this is trusting the AP article to have accurately reported the information, which is probably unrealis

    • by AdamHaun (43173) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @11:32AM (#37362448) Journal

      Both are right. The rate of demand increase is falling and is expected to go negative in a few years. From the article:

      Over the next decade, experts expect residential power use to fall, reversing an upward trend that has been almost uninterrupted since Thomas Edison invented the modern light bulb. ...

      From 1980 to 2000, residential power demand grew by about 2.5 percent a year. From 2000 to 2010, the growth rate slowed to 2 percent. Over the next 10 years, demand is expected to decline by about 0.5 percent a year, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit group funded by the utility industry.

      Overall demand, including from factories and businesses, is still expected to grow, but at only a 0.7 percent annual rate through 2035, the government says. That's well below the average of 2.5 percent a year the past four decades.

      The article is actually pretty detailed and quantitative (at least for the AP). It lists the big drivers as being more efficient lighting and appliances, federal and state efficiency subsidies, and people trying to save money. Over the next couple decades they're projecting ~20-25% reduction in appliance energy use and ~50% reduction in lighting energy use.

      • by russotto (537200)

        The article is actually pretty detailed and quantitative (at least for the AP). It lists the big drivers as being more efficient lighting and appliances, federal and state efficiency subsidies, and people trying to save money. Over the next couple decades they're projecting ~20-25% reduction in appliance energy use and ~50% reduction in lighting energy use.

        #1 is probably refrigerators. They've increased tremendously in efficiency. #2 is probably air conditioners, same reason (but they are replaced less oft

    • by WebManWalking (1225366) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @01:02PM (#37362950)
      You were absolutely right to be concerned about the rate of growth metric. Consider 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + ...

      The 2 represents a doubling of the sum so far (200%). Now the sum is 3, so the 3 represents a 100% increase. Now the sum is 6, so the 4 represents a 67% increase. Now the sum is 10, so the 5 represents a 50% increase. Now the sum is 15, so the 6 represents a 40% increase. And so on.

      Now suppose that these numbers represent electricity usage. Although usage is monotonically increasing, the rate of growth is monotonically decreasing. Other commenters have pointed out that "TFA" says actual usage will go down. But you were right to be concerned. If actual usage is expected to go down, why didn't they say that? Why did they say that the rate of growth is expected to go down?? That phrase is a major red flag to identify someone who's trying to lie with statistics.
      • This is precisely what has most often happened when politicians promise "a decrease in spending": their projected budget already contains a substantial planned increase. They chop some of that out. But all they have accomplished is actually making the increase smaller than previously planned... and they call that a "decrease".

        This same trick is what was just pulled in the latest budget agreement between Rebuplicans and Democrats. Their vaunted "decrease in spending" is actually an overall increase: the b
        • Well, my point was about mathematics and the ratios between numbers as they get larger, not politics. But thank you for not making fun of my spelling of statistics in the Subject field.
  • Obviously (Score:3, Informative)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @10:44AM (#37362188) Homepage Journal

    US energy consumption is falling [typepad.com] even where it concerns oil, that's due to the inflation and thus higher prices in dollar amounts, though measured in gold, the oil is cheapest in history.

    September 2009 â" Current (US Population 307,006,550)
    Total input to refineries 14,600,000 Barrels per day
    Total Imported Crude and products 11,721,000 Barrels per day
    Total Imported Crude 9,223,000 Barrels per day
    Total Domestic Oil Production 5,444,000 Barrels per day
    Gasoline Consumed 8,779,000 Barrels per day
    Diesel Fuel Consumed 4,099,000 Barrels per day

    September 2004 - 5 years ago (US Population 293,045,739)

    Registered vehicles: 243,010,539 Passenger Cars: 136,430,651 Comm Aircraft: 8,186
    Total input to refineries 15,254,000 Barrels per day
    Total Imported Crude and products 13,438,000 Barrels per day
    Total Imported Crude 9,697,000 Barrels per day
    Total Domestic Oil Production 5,062,000 Barrels per day
    Gasoline Consumed 7,993,000 Barrels per day
    Diesel Fuel Consumed

    Also here is a graph [realitybase.org] of per-capita consumption.

    It's not a surprise that energy consumption is falling in USA, as the population has less and less that it can spend because less and less is produced domestically. Same thing that is applied to oil can be extrapolated to all other forms of energy.

    • by symbolset (646467) *
      Measured in gold almost everything is approaching its lowest price in living memory. The value of a US dollar is fast approaching 1/2000th a troy ounce of gold. The only things that seem to be keeping up with gold right now are silver and Apple stock.
      • Re:Obviously (Score:5, Interesting)

        by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @01:01PM (#37362938) Homepage Journal

        Of-course, this is consistent with the depression that US and many other Western nations are in.

        Depression is huge loss of production capacity - too few people have meaningful goods producing jobs in the market. The way USA is dealing with the loss of production is by abusing the status of its reserve currency, so it's printing dollars to buy consumer goods and the producers also vendor financing this spending.

        So there are fewer and fewer jobs, the production capacity is going down (53Billion USD/month trade deficit), the debt is growing because government spending is constantly increasing in absolute numbers. The so called main stream 'economists' are saying that commodity prices do not matter because consumers are not buying commodities, this is completely dismissing the fact that somebody must buy the commodities to build all those consumer goods. Gold is going up only relative to the destroyed currency. Silver is almost a monetary metal itself, and Apple is selling not only in USA (which has no real purchasing power left since it has almost no production capacity left), but it's selling world wide. Of-course at some point the government will come after all of these American companies that are still making money abroad, saying that they must pay more for 'fairness' sake and will force them to liquidate various assets and to pay gigantic taxes on what will be called their "windfall" profits.

        Money destruction [slashdot.org] is the same reason HFT [slashdot.org] is up, and bogus government "Job Acts [slashdot.org]" will only worsen the situation, while the crowd will be calling for various misplaced [slashdot.org] solutions that come out of general misunderstanding of what is happening.

        • by Ksevio (865461)
          The jobs act will worsen the situation? Do you mean that it doesn't contain enough extra spending to spur the economy into greater growth or are you one of those that thinks the debt is related to the recession?
          • by roman_mir (125474)

            Why don't you read what I linked to on this very issue - my journal [slashdot.org], if you wanted to get your question answered? I have enough [slashdot.org] comments here explaining all of these problems in detail.

            Debt is not the cause of recession, debt is a consequence of the broken fiscal policy, which allows government to counterfeit currency. Currency counterfeiting combined with business regulations (and here is what a business regulation looks like [slashdot.org],) combined with taxation of work and with subsidies to preferred monopolies, al

      • Printer Ink - More valuable then Gold

    • by istartedi (132515)

      measured in gold, the oil is cheapest in history

      Nope. Not even close.

      The gold-oil ratio is 1855.40/87.01= approx. 21.3. Visit http://www.incrediblecharts.com/economy/gold_oil_ratio.php [slashdot.org] and scroll down to the gold-oil ratio chart.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    We've replaced the broken tube TVs with LCD and now LED TVs. The old refrigerator broke and the new one laps it terms of efficiency. And the new furnace is better than the old one.

    These things alone took our bills down 30-40%.

    Add some switchable powerstrips for all the phantom draws of those power supplies and it gets even better.

    Industry group or not, my experience jibes with their report.

  • There's been a big push for more energy efficiency in the corporate/business sector. This stuff tends to trickle down to the consumer level after a bit, so that's what we're seeing here.

    Use of devices is probably increasing, but said devices use a fraction of the power they did even a decade ago, so it makes sense that overall consumption per household would fall.

    Think about it; how many of you have washers that are 5 years or older? 10? My washer and drier are over 20 years old. I plan on replacing the

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @11:14AM (#37362346) Homepage Journal
    demographic changes and societal changes are probably at least as responsible, if not more responsible, for the changes. Due to the "great recession" American kids are finally figuring out what their counterparts in other rich countries(Italy and Japan foremost among them) that living with mom and dad after graduation and even employment isn't as bad as either forking out massive amounts of money in rent to someone else every month or buying a house/apartment that is pretty much guaranteed to be worth less than you paid for it the second you sign the lease.

    As such, as more people live in the same household per capita energy consumption tends to fall as there are more "economies of scale" in things like refrigeration and heating/cooling.....

    Whether or not this will be a long term trend like it is in Italy and Japan still remains a question and is critical to long term residential energy consumption estimates.
  • Slashdot's title says the power demand will fall; TFA says the rate of increase will fall, i.e. it'll still go up but more slowly. Please fix.

    • Over the next decade, experts expect residential power use to fall, reversing an upward trend that has been almost uninterrupted since Thomas Edison invented the modern light bulb.

      From 2000 to 2010, the growth rate slowed to 2 percent. Over the next 10 years, demand is expected to decline by about 0.5 percent a year

      Assuming they're talking about the "growth rate" declining, in 4 years of 0.5% decline, the growth rate will be 0%, and the remaining 6 years will be negative.

  • My Georgia electric bill for June to July was 130, for July to August it was 134. I live in an area zoned for tiered rates, meaning as your usage goes up you pay a lot more. All my lights are either CFL (where they aren't easily noticed) or now LED. There are some good deals on packs of three LED bulbs. The only place without either bulb is the master bathroom because we can't find anything acceptable to replace the clear six inch globes. Suggestions are appreciated on that matter. So we simply have half them off unscrewed enough to not light; those above "my" sink. Common electronics in the house include one iMac and a laptop. Throw in a DLP television and a 32 LED in the exercise area and finally a hot water heater. The reason I posted our monthly electric bills, the house is 3900 square feet.

    How is it done, well being militant with the heating and AC helps a lot. Since no one is upstairs after 7 the AC goes up to 82+, it is only below 82 from 8PM to 7AM and then its 75 (a slight cave in but hell who cares). The downstairs is 78 during the day mostly because of pets but goes to 82+ at night though it rarely heats up. Ceiling fans grace every room. Laundry and loads of dishes are done as full loads only. Modern dishwashers are more efficient than washing by hand in most cases. Modern washers (both are less than five years old) are the same. Oh, watch the lights. Its not hard to teach turning out the light when your not in the room (though it can lead to some silliness - as in its ONLY YOU in there"). Toss in a light colored shingles and that might help a bit. I would try white as a story mentioned years ago but HOAs are the law in these parts. Outside the only control I have over the elements was planting Chinese Thuja (very fast growing conical pines) to the S/SW to block direct summer sunlight in evening. Even the orientation of the home benefits, most windows are on the North side.

    While I doubt every thing we do would work for most, it works for us. Make it a game. That can get everyone on board. That and have something tangible as reward to do with the savings. Like trips, hell even pizza nights paid for being smart work.

    • by jroysdon (201893)

      Make it a game. That can get everyone on board. That and have something tangible as reward to do with the savings. Like trips, hell even pizza nights paid for being smart work.

      Not a bad idea to do the reward thing. We do most of what you talk about. Where I live we have SmartMeters, but they have not yet given access to the data to customers yet. However, I now work for the local utility and can get my usage after I VPN to work and access the AMI system to see hourly usage.

      Once they roll out customer access to the hourly usage then billing will be switching to Time of Use (ToU) billing as well. The irrigation/power utility is a not-for-profit, so the goal isn't to gauge custom

    • by guruevi (827432)

      If you can, replace the light fixture with one that allows for more directional lights (spot lights). There are some globe LED's but they're not as good. I use CFL's there as well.

      Hot water heater on electricity? Unless you live in Europe or you generate your own electricity, it's going to be more expensive. You can get one of those more expensive electric water heaters (or add-ons) that use the hot air in your house to heat the water.

      As far as the lights go, I put our outside lights on X10 as well as most

  • >"From 2000 to 2010, the growth rate slowed to 2 percent. Over the next 10 years, demand is expected to decline by about 0.5 percent a year, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit group funded by the utility industry."

    That means the rate that GROWTH is increasing will slow down. That does not mean absolute power usage is going down. That won't happen until total growth is NEGATIVE.

    I am quite sure many people are misreading this to mean it is a reduction in energy use, which it

    • by cfc-12 (1195347)

      >"From 2000 to 2010, the growth rate slowed to 2 percent. Over the next 10 years, demand is expected to decline by about 0.5 percent a year, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit group funded by the utility industry."

      That means the rate that GROWTH is increasing will slow down.

      No, I'm pretty sure "demand is expected to decline by about 0.5 percent a year" means just that. A decline in demand is negative growth in demand (demand meaning the actual amount of power people draw from the system in a given period of time, not the increase in that amount).

      Also from TFA:

      Over the next decade, experts expect residential power use to fall, reversing an upward trend that has been almost uninterrupted since Thomas Edison invented the modern light bulb.

      Surely when an upward trend in residential power use is reversed, it becomes a downward trend, not just a trend going upwards a little more slowly?

      • by markdavis (642305)

        Yes, it is possible. Of course, anything could happen. But for now it is just slowed growth.

        I do think that with better lighting options, better insulation, better efficiency with appliances, higher energy costs, it only makes sense that eventually the average consumption will go down.

        Not sure about TOTAL consumption, though. Unfortunately, population continues to increase, which will mean more people having more appliances, more houses, more cars, more of everything. Especially true when you look at to

    • by Surt (22457)

      Growth has slowed to 2% already, and is expected to hit a negative value such that total demand will decline 0.5% per year.

  • The population growth just isn't keeping up with the increases in efficiency that are popping up everywhere.

    • Switching to more efficient lighting, which many are doing, makes a VERY significant impact on energy use.
    • People are more and more using portable phones, tablets, and notebooks as computing devices rather than desktop computers with CRTs.
    • Inefficient tube TVs are being replaced with LCD TVs, and the new ones with LED backlighting are even more efficient.
    • Old appliances are dying off and being replaced w
    • by D. Taylor (53947)
      "Over the next 10 years, demand is expected to decline by about 0.5 percent a year" Seems pretty unequivocal to me. Even if it did say growth was to decline by 0.5 percentage points a year for the next decade, with a starting point of 2% you go negative pretty quick.
  • Power Demand From US Homes Expected To Fall For a Decade
    We hear all the time that household energy consumption is rising, both in the U.S. and around the world.
    [...]
    the rate of growth [...] is expected to decline slightly over the next 10 years.

    When the rate of growth of a value declines, that value doesn't fall. It continues to rise. When the rate declines slightly, it continues to rise nearly as fast as it did before. It doesn't fall.

    How stupid are the people writing these headlines? These are the people

    • by nstlgc (945418)
      I wish I could mod you up.
    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      the rate of growth [...] is expected to decline slightly over the next 10 years.

      Yeah! Classic use of selective editing! The statement in the summary is actually:

      the rate of growth in U.S. household energy use, and household energy use itself, is expected to decline slightly over the next 10 years

      Since you're so smart I don't have to explain that this means that first the rate of growth will decline but remain positive, then become negative, causing the value to fall. As described in TFA.

      But really, props, that was classic.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @01:08PM (#37362978) Journal

    I heard one estimate that 3% of PG & E's power goes towards indoor grows. There would probably be a lot less indoor growing if it were legal.

    Another factor is the ongoing housing mess. Poor people conserve electricity in a variety of ways: Moving back home with the folks, not keeping the lights on in the investment house that they plan to flip (it's decaying instead), and not providing jobs for illegal immigrants who are either moving back or enterring at lower rates.

    Then of course there's the CFLs and other devices that do the same thing with less energy.

    "If present trends continue" is one of those phrases that will come back to haunt you. If the economy picks up and kids move out of the house, hire illegals to do their outside gardening, use growlights for their indoor gardening, and drive a spiffy new electric car to work then we'll be back to talking about how the grid can't handle it.

  • This presentation is pretty enlightening.

    part 1 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9cReuRThxY [youtube.com]
    part 2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3V-TCpX40c [youtube.com]
    part 3 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNk1S0w8q-Y [youtube.com]
    part 4 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxg33Swcz5A [youtube.com]

    The experts' guesses are compared to "random darts thrown by monkeys". Guess who is more accurate....

  • by DCFusor (1763438) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @07:12PM (#37364706) Homepage
    So I won't show up in this, but some of us got going and got it right way back when. I run 4 buildings on my campus off two independent solar systems, no power company wires come within half a mile of me. I probably use less electricity than most - all our "vampire" loads are on switched power, turned off when not in use, no blinking clocks on things that don't need them (and never did). Doesn't matter so much now as the system has grown, but walking lightly on the earth (and I'm no greenie) seems like a good plan generally, it's better to work with nature than attempt to dominate it -- revenge can be pretty fierce if you don't succeed.

    The system has and does support a computer lab (about 10 machines back when I ran a consultancy here), a machine shop - big tools, welders, and now a physics lab in addition to all the usual home entertainment stuff and lighting -- mostly CCFL, but other types too (even good old halogens for reading and the stereo microscope where they rule). Freezer in an unheated room, freezes two liter bottles of water to put in coolers used as refrigerators in the houses. Saves a ton. In fact, nearly all we do could be done in an on-grid house, whereupon you'd find out why they are called the power company -- they find a way to increase all the other non-electricity charges till you pay the same anyway -- same thing as is called Cramming when the phone companies do it.

    As I started with bare land, and built on that, I found out something really interesting. In most counties, including mine, the county has delegated the issuance and enforcement of building permits to guess who, the aptly named "power company". Ha! So all four of my dwellings needed no permits, and are "barns" insofar as taxes go. Now, think how much money that saves yearly -- and now recalculate the payoff time for solar. Laughing all the way to the bank on that one!

    More on my forums, link below.

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