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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:01 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 2:09 pm
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Location: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Energy self-sufficient strategies
To achieve the lowest "footprint" on the environment (and not just "carbon footprint" but land use, wildlife habitat loss, social costs, causes of war, various forms of pollution), my basic strategy is to try to eliminate anything from moving on or off the property including energy, food, pollution, garbage. Some of that is lifestyle choices but I figure most is design strategies of buildings as well as a significant influence being available tools such as a greenhouse. This post is just an overview and I will detail some of these later.

There are four strategies to achieve buildings designed for self-sufficient living:
1) need less including:
-Make the building smaller and more compact
-Use day-lighting needs to size and place windows
-water use reduction
-efficient appliances
-make your own food
-work at home or close to home
-smaller vehicles
2) use less including:
-high insulation, "super windows" and air-tightness
-condo designs to reduce outside walls
-grey water recycling
-very high-efficiency appliances
-selection of lower embodied-energy foods
-efficient vehicles
3) storage of energy:
-daily thermal storage
-annual thermal storage
-thermal storage for other needs (oven, refrigerator, hot water)
-high-quality energy storage (batteries, pneumatic air tanks)
-gravity-fed water pressure and sewage handling
(active system parts timed for available energy sources)
-food storage
-electric or pneumatic vehicles
4) make your own:
-passive heating and cooling strategies
-active renewable energy collection (solar panels mostly)
-rain capture and treatment
-greenhouse for food and pre-heated oxygenated air

I listed these four strategies in a particular order as following this order will result in the lowest cost for what you achieve (with the ultimate goal being complete self-sufficiency).

 Post subject: vehicles
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:48 am 
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I will start with vehicles as it is a more obvious process:
1) need less:
a) This is where you work at home, buy foods in bulk to reduce trips the the store, etc.
b) bicycles and roller skates are about as small as you can go
c) motorcycles are very inefficient generally but still save fuel simply by being small
d) I needed a truck so I bought a Japanese "Kei" truck or mini-truck. This vehicle has no efficiency electronics or hybrid stuff but achieves great mileage simply by being small and light. The engine is a 3-cylinder, 45 hp, lunch-box sized unit under the seats. The front face is smaller then most compact cars and it weighs less then half of a typical compact car.
2) use less:
a) careful driving can reduce fuel usage considerably
b) maintenance such as proper tire inflation can help significantly
c) newer vehicles often have more efficient engines
d) in the winter, I use several electric heating units to bring the vehicle engine and cab to operating temperature without starting the vehicle so it is not idling to defrost and does not need to be plugged in overnight... just for a few minutes before starting.
e) hybrid designs can recover breaking energy, reduce the amount of time the engine is running (many shut off the engine while waiting at a red light), and allow the engine to run at a more optimal RPM.
3) store energy:
a) a well insulated garage can keep the vehicle warm or cool so it is ready for use
b) electric and pneumatic vehicles are starting to come on the market as well as "plug in hybrid" that can be charged during times when cheaper energy is available.
4) With enough solar electric available, you might be able to charge you electric vehicle from energy you make yourself. I will be exploring the creation of pneumatic energy from solar due to it potentially being more efficient then solar cells, batteries, and charging and inverter electronics (if the heat and cool from the compression and decompression can be utilized).

 Post subject: Architecture
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:36 pm 
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I will try to stick purely with building function in this post with the building's primary function being to create an artificial environment at room temperature, about 30% relative humidity and with fresh-smelling air. Also note that the lettered items only apply to the individual posts and not the whole thread.

1) need less:
a) A camping trailer has a small heater and almost no insulation but still heats up fine simply by being so small. We have to learn how to build more compact homes and how to enjoy such homes.
b) hallways and storage areas need to be heated or cooled less then rooms that people actually stay in. These areas can be located along outside walls and for cooling-dominate homes, the south and west sides or for heating-dominate homes, the north and east sides (or west side if temperature swings are an issue).
c) timed thermostats and occupancy testing thermostats can be used to only use heating and cooling when there is actually someone in the room to enjoy it.
d) zoned heating and cooling can single out certain rooms to be controlled or change the rate of control for rooms such as a kitchen compared to a bedroom.
e) if a heating or cooling system is needed, make sure it is the smallest size that will do the job or even too small with a back-up option because these units are most efficient when running at maximum.
2) use less:
a) keep the heat or cool in the house with air-tight design (including air-tight between floors to stop "stack effect" and between rooms to stop wind-powered flow through a house)
b) keep the heat or cool in the house with higher levels of insulation
c) use ventilation systems with heat exchangers to keep the heat or cool in the house while still allowing for fresh air. Ventilation systems can also reduce air pressures on walls that force air through the walls. By putting separate heat exchangers in each floor or even each room, pressures like "stack effect" and wind can eliminated making for much higher efficiency. Occupancy testing can also be used to decide when to turn on fans for more fresh air.
***at this point, I go to #3 and #4 if I want to be energy self-sufficient before returning to the following #2 items
d) radiant heating and cooling FEELS more like the desired temperature irregardless of the actual air temperature. The use of radiant heating and cooling usually results in thermostats being set at less use (cooler heating-season settings, warmer cooling-season settings).
e) condensing fuel burning heaters use far less fuel.
f) heat pumps can provide more heating then the energy used. Whether it is used for heating or cooling, heat pumps are far more efficient if they are using a heat sink closer to the desired controlled temperature so "ground source" or "geothermal" heat pumps are the most efficient.
3) Store energy:
a) Some standards like "Passivhaus" make the house so efficient with #1 and #2 items that no heating or cooling systems are needed. If at this point you do need heating or cooling, plot the needs against the available sources of those needs. This may include temperatures found daily or even just temperature swings within a single space. In these cases, heat or cool can be stored for controlling temperature swings or storing night cool for cooling in the day or daily heat for use at night.
b) if the shortfall in heating or cooling spans a year rather then a day, annual heat storage can be the answer. Passive versions of this include partially or completely underground buildings with a buried insulation "umbrella". Active systems can be used too ("active" means the heat/cool transfer fluid such as air or water is pumped) but require storage of either the transferred annually-stored heat or cool on a daily basis (when moved by solar-powered pumping) or store the energy to run the active systems when that energy is made at different times then the use.
c) Active systems like pumps, fans, and controls need high-quality energy so are either operated when high quality energy is available (windy for wind turbines or sunny for solar panels) and the results stored or the high quality energy is stored in forms like batteries, hydrogen fuel cell systems, or pneumatic air pressure storage.
4) Make your own:
a) Passive heating with south-facing windows and passive cooling with ventilation, strategic shading, or growing grass on the roof can usually meet all your energy needs without anything to break down or wear out.
b) Active systems in connection with storage can be powered entirely during the day when solar energy is available or powered by wind when the wind is blowing.
c) renewable fuels can be used such as wood, crop residues or low quality grain, bio-fuels, or dung.
Once you have decided to use an active renewable energy source or a renewable fuel, return to the second part of #2 for better ways of delivering the heat or cool (and continue into #3 for storage options)

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