Global Cooling Prize

Each of these air-conditions is about 18% efficient (or less).

Eight Global Cooling Prize finalists have been announced. (1) The prize was initiated by Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI); the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India; and Mission Innovation, and is administered by RMI, Conservation X Labs, the Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE), and CEPT University. This is probably news to you. After all, we in the USA are being asked by our leaders to burn more coal, oil, and gas.

In other parts of the world where some degree of environmental rationality still exists, things are different. The Cooling Project goal is to to develop technology that will provide equivalent residential cooling for one fifth of the present power requirement. That improved efficiency can save up to 5,900 TWh/year in avoided demand in 2050, equal to 2X the annual generation of electricity within the EU, and it has the potential to potential to mitigate up to 0.5˚C of global warming by 2100.

Because our Legacy House is largely solar powered, our air-conditioning CO2 contribution is very low. We are probably doing better than the Cooling Project’s 2050 goals even today. Many people, particularly those in crowded urban environments or those lacking sufficient financial resources cannot go out and build solar houses. But if they can buy a window or house air-conditioner that is five times more efficient to run, that’s a winner from personal economic and global environmental perspectives.



Bicycle Tires

We have bicycles in our garage, and in our New Urbanism community we think we will have an opportunity to make more use of them than we used to do. They won’t be just for recreation. We can ride to local shops, get the mail, or visit a neighbor a few blocks away. Good for the body and less car use — even if ours is largely solar powered.

But there is a problem with bicycles that complicates the situation, and that is keeping air in the darned tires. If one does not ride often, the first thing that has to happen before each run is to pump up the tires. That’s particularly true if the bike is one with 700×35 high pressure tires that leak down like helium balloons. Like ours did. It’s often easier, cleaner, and faster just to jump into the car. Having a bike that can’t be ridden when it’s needed just takes up garage space.

For other reasons we recently replaced one of our bikes with a low-maintenace Specialized Alibi. (1) It came with airless tires made by Tannus. The riding experience is good. This bike is ready to go at a moment’s notice without the need for a pit stop to get under way. So, after a little thought and research we decided to change out the pneumatic tires on the perfectly good second machine (Trek) with Tannus tires. A lot cheaper and more ecologically responsible than replacing the whole bike.

We did not take pictures of the replacement process and did not plan to write about bike tires as we were doing the job. Sorry. The replacement task is tedius and somewhat difficult. There are several Tannus and Youtube videos on the process. If you decide to do this, watch them all. Pay attention. Take notes. Do what they say to do. Have a helper. Have cold drinks at the ready. Don’t waste money on the special installation pliers. They don’t work well and the standard tool that comes with each tire will get the job done if you use it correctly. An important point is to push the standard tool into the center area of the tire as the retainer clips are being pressed down. That makes things go much easier. If you watch the videos, you’ll see what this meaningless important point is all about. Don’t forget it.

Anyway, we got it done. We have two emission-free vehicles that are ready to go when we are and can’t have flats. How cool is that?


Electricity Use

We have four months’ data to give us some idea how the Legacy House solar plant, seen above just after installation, is working.

May 2019 — $46.48, 731 kWh delivered, 416 kWh to grid, 315 kWh net.
June 2019 — $20.40, 617 kWh delivered, 544 kWh to grid, 73 kWh net.
July 2019 — $9.50, 488 kWh delivered, 536 kWh to grid, -48 kWh net.
August 2019 — $16.48, 619 kWh delivered, 577 kWh to grid, 41 kWh net. 

It appears that we are getting a bit less than 85% of our power from the garage roof panels. That’s great, but a bit more than we really want. Unless one builds off-grid, AEP Ohio expects net-metering users like us to buy some power to pay for grid maintenance. That’s fine.

Keep in mind that the numbers above relate to the house and the electric car in the garage.

Drip Irrigation

At the Legacy House we are trying to be responsible about the use of energy and water. We have started installation of a drip irrigation system (1) for the lawn-free landscaping.

The drip lines in the image above will be covered by two to three inches of mulch. They are uncovered now until we are sure everything is working properly, as it seems to be.

There are long lists of advantages and disadvantages to drip irrigation. For us low water usage, low initial cost, and better weed control were the principle considerations.