Thinking about Earth Day

I must admit that I was inspired to take a close look at our energy consumption and estimated CO2 emissions after reading this Popular Mechanics article, Energy Family Part Four: Power Pioneers – Popular Mechanics. Since I am engineer I had to have some calculations. So I went over to the EPA site and pulled down their green house gas spreadsheet. The key information was the utility cost so I gathered up the electric bills for the last year. The results were not surprising. Most of our green house gas emissions, 84%, come from our use of electricity. In particular our electric bills are 50% higher for the months of December, January, and February.

So what can I do about this. There are three viable options:

  1. Geothermal heat pump
  2. Wind Power
  3. Solar Power

The geothermal heat pump is probably the most cost effective solution since we have the land available. The savings are between 25% to 50% over conventional systems.

The wind and solar power are distant second places. Wind power is generally cost effective while solar power would be a very nice solution for us if it wasn’t so darn expensive. My mother-in-law would flip out if we put a wind turbine on the property so I think it is out of the question. We have an arena roof that faces the southern sky and the prices for solar panels are dropping but it is still too expensive. My first choice is obviously the geothermal heat pump.