Riding on Sunlight

By John Addison (9/20/07). Electric light rail is a popular way to whisk millions through cities with speed, ease, and minimal emissions. Per passenger mile, source-to-wheels emissions are far less than people trying to navigate busy cities in their cars. Even if there is a coal power plant supplying the electricity, the efficiency of moving masses with efficient electric drive systems results in very clean transportation.

Unfortunately, the initial capital expense of light rail prevents many worthy projects. MTA New York City is spending over $7.5 billion to extend its sub-way. Most light-rail costs over $10 million per mile.

Buses can move millions for a fraction of the cost of light-rail. Bus routes can be easily changed as cities grow, change in shape, and alter in transportation demands. Light-rail tracks are likely to be fixed for over forty years; bus routes may change annually. For most major cities, the ideal is intermodal solutions that include both bus and light-rail.

Now AC Transit in Oakland, California, is making bus travel as appealing as light-rail. Each day, over one thousand people ride on three hydrogen fuel cell buses in Oakland and in environmentally conscious Berkeley. By 2012, five thousand people daily will be riding on twelve such buses. The only emission is water vapor.

At the heart of these electric buses are Siemens electric-motors, similar to the larger motors which power electric light-rail. The motors are powered by electricity generated from 120kW fuel cells and from 95kW of batteries. The batteries are also used to capture braking and downhill energy. The batteries are recharged nightly, making these buses plug-in hybrid hydrogen fuel cell buses.

The hydrogen is made by onsite reformation of natural gas. Basically CH4 is combined with steam (H2O) to produce hydrogen. The electricity to power the reformation and the compression of the hydrogen gas is from solar power. The 150 kg/day of hydrogen is used by the three buses and up to eleven Hyundai vehicles for supervisors.

The net result is electric buses that can run hundreds of miles up 18 percent grades, and then be cleanly refueled in minutes. By 2010, the buses are likely to run 16 hours daily, up from the current eight. In five years, AC Transit is likely to buy at least seven hydrogen buses annually, staying ahead of California’s zero-emission bus mandate.

These are the most advanced buses used in the world with 40-foot Van Hool A330 bus chassis modified to accommodate UTC’s PureMotion™ 120 kW fuel cell power system and ISE’s hybrid-electric drive system. Hydrogen tanks on the roof give the bus a range of 300 to 350 miles, and batteries recharged during braking can provide an extra 95kW of power for acceleration and climbing steep grades.

HyRoad, this exciting model of public transportation, was made possible by more than $21 million of funding from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, California Air Resources Board, California Energy Commission, California Transportation Commission, CalStart, Chevron Corporation, Department of Energy, and the Federal Transit Administration.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory released a preliminary report on its evaluation of AC Transit’s fleet of fuel cell buses. The report includes eight months of performance data on three fuel cell buses in service, as well as data from a fleet of diesel control buses.

AC Transit; SunPower (SPWR); MMA Renewable Ventures; and PG&E (PCG) dedicated the AC Transit’s state-of-the-art 621-kilowatt solar electric system. The system, located on AC Transit facilities in Hayward and Oakland, is expected to generate approximately 767,000 kilowatt hours of power each year.

Over the 30-year life of the system, AC Transit expects to save $5 million in utility costs as a result of the clean, renewable solar power that the system will generate. It will offset the production of more than 14.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions – equivalent to planting 2,000 acres of trees or removing 1,400 cars from California’s highways.

“AC Transit is committed to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and improving the quality of life for the entire region in which we operate,” said AC Transit General Manager Rick Fernandez. “While installing a solar system to power our facilities makes a great deal of financial sense, it will also provide more than enough power to offset the 189,000 kilowatt hours per year required to operate AC Transit’s hydrogen production facility, and help lower the overall amount of energy we use from conventional sources.”

Instead of spending millions to install the solar system, AC Transit arranged to pay 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour to MMA Renewable Ventures, which finances and owns AC Transit’s solar power systems under a SunPower Access™ program. “AC Transit selected an innovative financing structure to effectively meet its financial goals and environmental objectives,” said Matt Cheney, CEO of MMA Renewable Ventures. “With its forward-thinking approach and commitment to clean energy, AC Transit is demonstrating that solar power is an affordable option for public agencies concerned with reducing carbon emissions.”

“AC Transit is an environmental leader that is doing its part to address our ongoing energy challenges,” said Howard Wenger, SunPower vice president. “By generating solar power, AC Transit is reducing demand from the utility grid, reducing operating costs, and improving air quality for its community. This energy solution saves money while helping the environment.”

A large portion of the installation cost of these solar systems was covered by a $1.9 million incentive from PG&E, under California’s Self Generation Incentive Program. Through this program, PG&E can provide almost $950 million in incentives over the next 10 years to help customers buy their own solar systems.

In the past twenty years, solar power has dropped 90% in price due to technology breakthroughs and production volume. Over the next twenty years, we will see the same improvement with hydrogen transportation. Already, the hydrogen used cost AC Transit no more per mile than diesel fuel used in similar buses.

As fuel cells reach lives beyond 10,000 hours, and as costs are significantly reduced, advanced transportation like AC Transit’s HyRoad will become available worldwide. When it does, we can thank AC Transit and its partners for leading the way.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report (www.cleanfleetreport.com). September 24 to 27 he will be researching future articles at Solar Power 2007. On October 25 he will be a featured speaker at the California Hydrogen Business Council. Permission is granted to reproduce this story.

4 replies
  1. Jay Draiman
    Jay Draiman says:

    Energy Independence begins with Energy efficiency – It’s cheaper to save energy than to make energy. Updated September 23, 2007MANDATORY RENEWABLE ENERGY – THE ENERGY EVOLUTION –R22By Jay Draiman, Energy Consultant Today’s energy industry is perhaps the world’s most powerful. Energy is the basis of all this world’s wealth, and for perhaps earth’s entire history, the sun’s energy has fueled all ecological and economic systems. If early humans did not learn to exploit new sources of energy, humankind would still be living in the tropical forests. Without the continual exploitation of new energy sources, there would have been no civilization, no Industrial Revolution and no looming global catastrophe. In order to insure energy and economic independence as well as better economic growth without being blackmailed by foreign countries, our country, the United States of America’s Utilization of Energy Sources must change. “Energy drives our entire economy.” We must protect it. “Let’s face it, without energy the whole economy and economic society we have set up would come to a halt. So you want to have control over such an important resource that you need for your society and your economy.” The American way of life is not negotiable.Our continued dependence on fossil fuels could and will lead to catastrophic consequences.The federal, state and local government should implement a mandatory renewable energy installation program for residential and commercial property on new construction and remodeling projects, replacement of appliances, motors, HVAC with the use of energy efficient materials-products, mechanical systems, appliances, lighting, insulation, retrofits etc. The source of energy must be by renewable energy such as Solar-Photovoltaic, Geothermal, Wind, Biofuels, Ocean-Tidal, Hydrogen-Fuel Cell etc. This includes the utilizing of water from lakes, rivers and oceans to circulate in cooling towers to produce air conditioning and the utilization of proper landscaping to reduce energy consumption. (Sales tax on renewable energy products and energy efficiency should be reduced or eliminated)The implementation of mandatory renewable energy could be done on a gradual scale over the next 10 years. At the end of the 10 year period all construction and energy use in the structures throughout the United States must be 100% powered by renewable energy. (This can be done by amending building code)In addition, the governments must impose laws, rules and regulations whereby the utility companies must comply with a fair “NET METERING” (the buying of excess generation from the consumer at market price), including the promotion of research and production of “renewable energy technology” with various long term incentives and grants. The various foundations in existence should be used to contribute to this cause. A mandatory time table should also be established for the automobile industry to gradually produce an automobile powered by renewable energy. The American automobile industry is surely capable of accomplishing this task. As an inducement to buy hybrid automobiles (sales tax should be reduced or eliminated on American manufactured automobiles).This is a way to expedite our energy independence and economic growth. (This will also create a substantial amount of new jobs). It will take maximum effort and a relentless pursuit of the private, commercial and industrial government sectors’ commitment to renewable energy – energy generation (wind, solar, hydro, biofuels, geothermal, energy storage (fuel cells, advance batteries), energy infrastructure (management, transmission) and energy efficiency (lighting, sensors, automation, conservation) (rainwater harvesting, water conservation) (energy and natural resources conservation) in order to achieve our energy independence.I believe what America needs are cool headed government leaders who understand how markets function and can work with consumers, voters and oil industry leaders to develop a viable energy strategy that will help and not hinder as our nation transitions to our new energy reality. “To succeed, you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality.”Jay Draiman, Energy ConsultantNorthridge, CA. 91325September 3, 2007P.S. I have a very deep belief in America’s capabilities. Within the next 10 years we can accomplish our energy independence, if we as a nation truly set our goals to accomplish this.I happen to believe that we can do it. In another crisis–the one in 1942–President Franklin D. Roosevelt said this country would build 60,000 [50,000] military aircraft. By 1943, production in that program had reached 125,000 aircraft annually. They did it then. We can do it now.”the way we produce and use energy must fundamentally change.”The American people resilience and determination to retain the way of life is unconquerable and we as a nation will succeed in this endeavor of Energy Independence.The Oil Companies should be required to invest a substantial percentage of their profit in renewable energy R&D and implementation. Those who do not will be panelized by the public at large by boy cutting their products.Solar energy is the source of all energy on the earth (excepting volcanic geothermal). Wind, wave and fossil fuels all get their energy from the sun. Fossil fuels are only a battery which will eventually run out. The sooner we can exploit all forms of Solar energy (cost effectively or not against dubiously cheap FFs) the better off we will all be. If the battery runs out first, the survivors will all be living like in the 18th century again.Every new home built should come with a solar package. A 1.5 kW per bedroom is a good rule of thumb. The formula 1.5 X’s 5 hrs per day X’s 30 days will produce about 225 kWh per bedroom monthly. This peak production period will offset 17 to 24 cents per kWh with a potential of $160 per month or about $60,000 over the 30-year mortgage period for a three-bedroom home. It is economically feasible at the current energy price and the interest portion of the loan is deductible. Why not?Title 24 has been mandated forcing developers to build energy efficient homes. Their bull-headedness put them in that position and now they see that Title 24 works with little added cost. Solar should also be mandated and if the developer designs a home that solar is impossible to do then they should pay an equivalent mitigation fee allowing others to put solar on in place of their negligence. (Installation should be paid “performance based”).Installation of renewable energy and its performance should be paid to the installer and manufacturer based on “performance based” (that means they are held accountable for the performance of the product – that includes the automobile industry). This will gain the trust and confidence of the end-user to proceed with such a project; it will also prove to the public that it is a viable avenue of energy conservation.Installing a renewable energy system on your home or business increases the value of the property and provides a marketing advantage. It also decreases our trade deficit.Nations of the world should unite and join together in a cohesive effort to develop and implement MANDATORY RENEWABLE ENERGY for the sake of humankind and future generations.The head of the U.S. government’s renewable energy lab said Monday (Feb. 5) that the federal government is doing “embarrassingly few things” to foster renewable energy, leaving leadership to the states at a time of opportunity to change the nation’s energy future. “I see little happening at the federal level. Much more needs to happen.” What’s needed, he said, is a change of our national mind set. Instead of viewing the hurdles that still face renewable sources and setting national energy goals with those hurdles in mind, we should set ambitious national renewable energy goals and set about overcoming the hurdles to meet them. We have an opportunity, an opportunity we can take advantage of or an opportunity we can squander and let go,”solar energy – the direct conversion of sunlight with solar cells, either into electricity or hydrogen, faces cost hurdles independent of their intrinsic efficiency. Ways must be found to lower production costs and design better conversion and storage systems.Disenco Energy of the UK has announced it has reached importantmilestones leading to full commercialization, such as the completion offield trials for its home, micro combined heat and power plant (m-CHP).The company expects to begin a product roll out in the second quarter of2008.Operating at over 90 percent efficiency, the m-CHP will be able toprovide 15 kilowatts of thermal energy (about 50,000 Btu’s) for heat andhot water and generate 3 kilowatts of electricity. The m-CHP uses aStirling engine generator and would be a direct replacement for a home’sboiler.Running on piped-in natural gas the unit would create some independencefrom the power grid, but still remain connected to the gas supplynetwork.Whereas heat is supplied only when the generator is running (orconversely electricity is generated only when heat is needed) a back-upbattery system and heavily insulated hot water storage tank seemeventual options for more complete energy independence.FEDERAL BUILDINGS WITH SOLAR ENERGY – Renewable EnergyAll government buildings, Federal, State, County, City etc. should be mandated to be energy efficient and must use renewable energy on all new structures and structures that are been remodeled/upgraded.”The government should serve as an example to its citizens” A new innovative renewable energy generating technology is in development. The idea behind Promethean Power came from Matthew Orosz, an MIT graduate student who has worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in the African nation of Lesotho. Orosz wanted to provide electric power, refrigeration, and hot water to people without electricity. He and some MIT colleagues designed a set of mirrors that focus sunlight onto tubes filled with coolant. The hot coolant turns to pressurized vapor, which turns a turbine to make electricity. The leftover heat can be used to warm a tank of water and to run a refrigerator or an air conditioner, using a gas-absorption process that chills liquid ammonia by first heating it.IS TECHNOLOGY BEING HELD BACKNew Solar Electric Cells – 80% efficientMr. Marks says solar panels made with Lepcon or Lumeloid, the materials he patented, … Most photovoltaic cells are only about 15 percent efficient. …A major increase in daily petroleum output is deemed essential to meet U.S. and international oil requirements in 2020, and so we should expect recurring oil shortages and price increases. Only by expediting the diminishing our day-to-day consumption of petroleum and implementing of efficiency and renewable energy policy can we hope to reduce our exposure to costly oil-supply disruptions and lower the risk of economic strangulation.Quick Facts Energy is vital to every sector of the U.S. economy. As our economy grows, the demand for energy rises.  Total energy consumption is projected to increase 35 percent by 2030.  Energy-efficiency improvements have played a major role in meeting national energy needs since the 1970s, relative to new supply.ULTRACAPACITORS – But what if you could harness a technology that would enable you to drive 500 miles round-trip on a 5-minute charge? That’s the promise of U.S. Patent No. 7,033,406 which promises, maybe even threatens, to do away with the internal combustion engine, and the traditional car battery, all in one swoop. The patent is the property of Austin-based startup called EEStor, which touts “technologies for replacement of electrochemical batteries.” In layman’s terms, that means you could use the EEStor technology to drive from Boston to Philly and back without a drop of gasoline.STEP INTO THE LIGHT – AND OUT TO THE WORLDJay Draiman, Energy ConsultantNorthridge, CA 91324Email: renewableenergy2@msn.com Posted on: 09/23//2007

  2. Mike
    Mike says:

    Austin isn't building light rail – they're going to be running DMU (diesel) trains on existing track (only a few portions of new track to be built). This is also why it's going to suck so badly – it doesn't go remotely near where it needs to so people could walk to work; it's going to require the infamous choice-commuter-killing shuttle-bus transfer.

  3. Jay Draiman
    Jay Draiman says:

    26 economical ways to keep your house coolerSimple changes such as moving lamps away from thermostats can save you hundreds of dollars. Here is more money — and energy — saving tips.Sure, go ahead and turn that thermostat up to 80. You’ll be sweaty and still shelling out a bundle — unless you take other steps to make summer heat more bearable and reduce stress on your air conditioner. • Most of these cost little or nothing. Thank the Department of Energy’s Energy Savers program, which provides most of these tips (and more) on its ownGet the most from your air conditioning • Open windows and use portable or ceiling fans instead of operating your air conditioner. Even mild air movement of 1 mph can make you feel three or four degrees cooler. Make sure your ceiling fan is turned for summer — you should feel the air blown downward. If you live in a relatively dry climate, a bowl or tray of ice in front of a box fan can cool you as it evaporates.• Use a fan with your window air conditioner to spread the cool air through your home. • Without blocking air flow, shade your outside compressor. Change air filters monthly during the summer.• Use a programmable thermostat with your air conditioner to adjust the setting at night or when no one is home. • Don’t place lamps or TV’s near your air conditioning thermostat? The heat from these appliances will cause the air conditioner to run longer. • Consider installing a whole house fan or evaporative cooler (a “swamp cooler”) if appropriate for your climate. Attics trap fierce amounts of heat; a well-placed and -sized whole-house fan pulls air through open windows on the bottom floors and exhausts it through the roof, lowering the inside temperature and reducing energy use by as much as third compared with an air conditioner. Cost is between $200 and $400 if you install it yourself. An evaporative cooler pulls air over pads soaked in cold water and uses a quarter the energy of refrigerated air, but they’re useful only in low-humidity areas. Cost is $200 to $600. (See “Keep cool without pricey AC.”)• Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from the house. Close curtains on south- and west-facing windows during the day. • Install awnings on south-facing windows. Because of the angle of the sun, trees, a trellis, or a fence will best shade west-facing windows. Apply sun-control or other reflective films on south-facing windows.Landscaping for a cooler house • Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units, but not block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses less electricity. Clean your compressor/condensing unit monthly – power wash.• Grown on trellises, vines such as ivy or grapevines can shade windows or the whole side of a house. • Avoid landscaping with lots of un-shaded rock, cement, or asphalt on the south or west sides. It increases the temperature around the house and radiates heat to the house after the sun has set. • Deciduous trees planted on the south and west sides will keep your house cool in the summer. Just three trees, properly placed around a house, can save a few hundred dollars in annual cooling and heating costs. In summer, daytime air temperatures can be 3 degrees to 6 degrees cooler in tree-shaded neighborhoods. Little things mean a lot • Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents or LED; they produce the same light but use a fifth the energy and heat • Air-dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle. • Use a microwave oven instead of a conventional electric range or oven. • Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use. • Plug home electronics, such as TVs and VCRs, into power strips and turn power strips off when equipment is not in use. • Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater; 115° is comfortable for most uses. • Take showers instead of baths to reduce hot water use. • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes. Don’t air-condition the whole neighborhood • Caulking and weather-stripping will keep cool air in during the summer. • If you see holes or separated joints in your ducts, hire a professional to repair them. • Add insulation around air conditioning ducts when they are located in unconditioned spaces such as attics, crawl spaces, and garages; do the same for whole-house fans where they open to the exterior or to the attic. Install ERV.• Check to see that your fireplace damper is tightly closed.Plan ahead More costly but effective cooling measures are available as your home undergoes normal upgrades and repairs. • A 10-year-old air conditioner, for example, is only half as efficient as a new one. A quick check of your air conditioner’s efficiency can help you decide whether to call in a service professional. Use a household thermometer to measure the temperature of the discharge air from the register and the temperature of the return air at the return-air grill. (Keep the thermometer in place for five minutes to get a steady temperature.) The difference should be from 14 to 20 degrees, experts say. An air conditioner that’s not cooling to those levels could be low on refrigerant or have leaks. A unit cooling more than 20 degrees could have a severe blockage.• Using light shingles on a new roof can cut the amount of heat the house absorbs. Repainting in a light color, especially south- and west-facing exterior areas, helps as well.• Upgraded insulation in the attic, attic fans and double-paned windows all around, complete with tinting to reflect sunlight, are good ideas, too. Install outdoor window shades on Southern and Western Exposure.Keep cool without pricey ACWhole-house fans and evaporative coolers can take the edge off summer’s heat for just pennies an hour. But they’re not for everyone or every climate.You might think your only options for a heat wave are air conditioning, fans or sweating it out. But a couple of old-school technologies could keep you cooler and cut your electricity bills at the same time.There’s always a catch, though, isn’t there? These alternatives — whole-house fans and evaporative coolers — don’t perform well in all climates. If your area is humid, you won’t be able to use most evaporative coolers. If your skies stay warm at night or if you don’t have an attic, don’t try a whole-house fan. But if nights are cool and you’ve got a hot attic, or if your air isn’t already dripping with moisture, read on. You could save a bundle.• energy bills?Not long ago, fans and evaporative coolers — known with derisive affection as “swamp coolers” — made homes livable in the hottest climates. “In the ’60s, an evaporative cooler was all we had,” recalls Arizona native John Kirby, an engineer with SRP, a Phoenix-area utility. “Most homes couldn’t afford air conditioning until it got more reasonable.” But there were downsides, including noise and, with swamp coolers, lots of maintenance. Enter central air conditioning: Invisible and quiet, it became the high-status choice. In the U.S., 89% of homes built in 2006 had central air, says the National Association of Home Builders, compared with just 46% in 1976. But air conditioners draw lots of power, so now, with both summer temperatures and electricity costs rising, these old energy misers deserve a second look with newer, quieter models that need less maintenance. Evaporative coolers These also are called “poor people’s air conditioning” because they’re so cheap to run. But what’s wrong with that? They use up to 75% less energy than air conditioners, says Gerald Katz, an energy specialist with Colton (Calif.) Electric Utility. Because they don’t cool as effectively as air conditioning, in really hot climates their use is limited to late spring and early fall. There are several types:• Rolling. These budget coolers cost about $300, and run for as little as pennies an hour, depending on local electric rates. They are particularly effective in apartments and condos, where rooms are smaller and rules might prohibit anything in the windows. • Window. Old coolers were big, noisy metal boxes that covered a window. Many new ones use high-quality plastic and sit outside, beneath a window, with an outlet through the window into the home. They cost about $400 and up, installed, and less than 10 cents an hour to operate. They must be flushed and cleaned regularly to prevent rust and calcium buildup. Newer models need only yearly maintenance.• Roof-mounted. These high-end, low-maintenance coolers are installed on roofs and connected to ducts that direct cool air into the house and force hot air up and out. Some are built right into attics. They cost $1,000 and up, installed, and up to 20 cents an hour to run. But compare that with $5,000 to $6,000 for new central air that costs 75 cents to $1 an hour to run.Save more money Katz’s municipally owned utility gives small evaporative coolers to some low-income customers. “I’ve seen bills drop by $100 a month when we give people these,” he says. His job includes helping customers conserve electricity — and money. “I see people paying $150 a month for electricity in apartments and $200 to $300 or more in homes,” he says. In summer, electricity use typically doubles, which tells him that air conditioning accounts for about half the bill. The heat is onYou can count on your power bills to rise alongside summer’s temperatures.Evaporative coolers work by pulling fresh air over pads soaked in cold water. The air is chilled, cleansed and sent into the house on a cool breeze. You must open windows or doors while it’s running so hot air can escape. If that’s unsafe, consider an UpDuct, a pressure-operated damper ($12 to $15 where you buy evaporative coolers) installed in outside walls. Continued: Making the decisionAdvanced systems — two-stage evaporative coolers such as those made by AdobeAir and Davis Energy Group’s OASys — employ a pre-cooler to extend the product’s usefulness into hotter and more-humid conditions. Making the decision Coolers add humidity, so they shine where humidity is low. How low? A chart at the California Energy Commission’s site shows optimum conditions to help you decide. A map at the Washington State University site marks the best regions (typically from the Rockies westward). Should you buy a new evaporative cooler? That depends on your bills, your weather and the efficiency of the system you’ve already got. You might purchase a portable unit on a trial basis. Find them at home-improvement centers and chains such as Sears and Wal-Mart. They often sell out in heat waves, so call around to locate one, then check the store’s return policy to ensure you could get a full refund. Learn how many days you have to return it and save your receipt. If the model you buy is noisy, try other brands. Higher-end coolers require professional installation, so contact air-conditioning companies. They cost less than air conditioners and need no expensive professional maintenance, so providers are less motivated to carry them. You may have to phone around to find one. Whole-house fans Where nights are cooler, even during one or two seasons, a whole-house fan can whittle your electric bill. Their cost ranges from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000 for the most expensive home units, with installation starting at around $300, more if attic venting is included. But it can shave 30% off your bill if you run it instead of air conditioning at night. “At night you bring all this cool air into the house, then you close the house up in the day and you are living off the cool you got in the night,” says Kirby, who used a whole-house fan while living in Missouri.Video on MSN Money The heat is onYou can count on your power bills to rise alongside summer’s temperatures.You’ll need an attic because the point of the fan is to cool it off. It fits into the ceiling, usually in a hallway, and sucks hot air up and out attic vents. It can be quite effective.Manny Robledo, in sweltering San Dimas, Calif., uses a whole-house fan. Returning home after a hot day, “you turn this thing on, and in a matter of 15 minutes you cool the house,” he says. Comparing costs Here’s how to compare the cost of operating your air conditioner with an evaporative cooler or whole-house fan: • Estimate how many hours a month you run air conditioning. • Check the label on your air conditioner to see how many kilowatts it uses. The label may not say, but it will show the amps and volts used, so calculate the number of watts it consumes by multiplying the amps (quantity of energy used) by the volts (pressure at which the energy is delivered) on the label. Divide by 1,000 for kilowatts. • Multiple the kilowatts used by the number of hours you run air conditioning each month to find the kilowatt-hours it consumes monthly. • Next, see what it’s costing you to run the air conditioner by consulting your electric bill to find the cost of a kilowatt-hour of electricity. Multiple the cost by the number you arrived at for kilowatt-hours. • Do the same for the new appliance.If in doubt, remember: The savings from an energy-efficient appliance will increase over time. “The way utility costs are rising, savings could potentially grow,” Compiled by: Jay Draiman

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