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Energy Rant

This is a satirical and at times humorous but critical commentary on energy efficiency issues of the day.

“Keep up the good work! I like the variety of topics; never boring. It's like a Box of Energy Chocolates.... you never know what you're gonna get!”

Mike MernickSenior Vice President, ICF
Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Indestructible Code Compliance Villains

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In case you missed last week’s post, you’ll need to go back and review the setup for this week’s demonstration of code challenges and mistakes. To summarize, I have an installed ENERGY STAR-qualifying 95% AFUE[1] (efficient) boiler with a brazed plate heat exchanger, hot water reset control, and a variable firing rate that ranges from 20% to 100%. That firing range is even better than code requirements. The system is a duded-out energy code breaker in theory. Let’s look at what went wrong in order. I have a Nest cam in the backyard and a Nest thermostat for the boiler....
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Code Compliance Setup – A Boiler Project

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Over the last forty years, computers have become orders of magnitude more powerful while they have become much easier to use. When I was in college, mainframe IBM computers owned all the muscle of computations. I was terrified of coding and wanted nothing to do with that. Thankfully, graphical interfaces emerged to make it easy. I even conquered graduate school with Engineering Equation Solver (“do it with EES” as its creator, Professor Sandy Klein, used to say). Energy codes went completely the opposite direction, from a simple document from the IBM mainframe era (1989) to a behemoth that would break...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Climate Change Resilience by Blunt Force Instrument

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Per the last couple of posts, we examined policies, trends, and physics behind property destruction, storms, and fire. This week provides ways to avoid destruction and loss from fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and extreme cold, which we are experiencing again. Have you seen the temperatures in Florida lately? Construction of Choice One type of construction can serve as the answer for many climate-related hazards, and that would be insulated concrete forms (ICF) with appropriate roofing and exterior finishes. (The third little pig had a point, ya know) The white sections in the drawing represent the insulating forms, which are typically...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Climate Resilience – Tornadoes, Canes, and Curve Balls

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This week we continue responding to the reader question, “What kind of home can withstand fire, hurricanes, floods, heat domes & polar vortex?” Before we get into design considerations, let’s look at modes of failure. From my research, hurricanes and tornadoes function similarly with similar wind speeds. Their difference is size and duration, of course. Let’s look at the scales used for hurricanes[1] (Saffir-Simpson) and tornadoes (Enhanced Fujita). Tornado and Hurricane Engines Low-pressure systems, tornadoes, and hurricanes all spin counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere, and they all represent rising air. Rising air results in cloud formation (condensation), and if the...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Climate Resilience – Flood, Fire, Ice

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A reader last week asked, “What kind of home can withstand fire, hurricanes, floods, heat domes, and polar vortex?” This is a great question. I love the challenge, so here we go[1]. Flooding and Landslides Think ahead and ask yourself, “what if” before or even after buying a property. For example, my first home was built to suit my engineering brain. It is wonderful for heating with a wood stove and is very practical; it is not huge and can be expanded with nice amenities for a family. It is built on the side of a bluff in the great...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Lucky Seven for 2022

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While compiling the last post in which I reviewed the accuracy of my predictions for 2021, I realized that most of those were in the 20-30 year timeframe. For 2022, I forced myself to choose most things that will or will not happen in 2022 – the good and the bad. Coal Record Annual worldwide coal consumption will pass the all-time high set in 2014. China is not playing the West’s games. They didn’t show up to the Glasgow party, send a video or a love letter. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is focused on world domination, economics, geopolitics, and...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Looking Back at the 2021 Forecast

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Predicting the future with infinite degrees of freedom is hard, especially when projected years into the future. A few years ago, Public Utilities Fortnightly posted an article about the accuracy of The Jetsons forecasting the future. William Hanna and Joseph Barbera got about half of it right, which isn’t bad for a 60-year projection. I researched this because I found an error in the PUF article that said there were no area codes in Jetson time (1962-1963). A quick online search indicates area codes started in the 1940s. Technologies from the Jetsons that we have today include moving walkways, treadmills,...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Homely But Smart Free Energy

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I introduced exergy to readers 4.5 years ago, had a refresher on it for industrial decarbonization earlier this year, and it is part of our decarbonization training course that is frontrunning AESP's annual conference in Nashville on February 7th. Decarb Course Contest Speaking of the pre-conference event, we're giving away a FREE pass to our decarbonization course to one lucky energy nerd. All you have to do for a chance to win is write a sassy 250-word explanation on WHY you want to attend. Get the details and enter to win here. We're announcing a winner on January 5th. Preserving...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Rabbit Holes and Electric Rates

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Last week as I began writing the second DRIPE post, I started down an electric-utility-pricing rabbit hole. I pulled back and saved it for this week – rabbit hole, botfly larvae, and all[1]. Now is a good time to play a card dealt to me a few weeks ago. An article in the Ohio Capital Journal described the latest efficiency bill that unanimously passed a House committee and included a precious quote from the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel: “The free market can create the efficiency effects of the legislation, without handing over millions to utility companies along the way.” Wrong, for...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Reverse Efficiency Beatings with DRIPE

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Does more industrial [or commercial or residential] energy efficiency lower energy prices for all? That is a partial title of a paper published at the 2015 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Industry[1]and the source of last week’s sassy DRIPE post ( DRIPE = demand reduction induced price effects). DRIPE is a measure of the value of efficiency delivered via downward pressure on energy prices, in this case, electricity prices. The ACEEE conference paper notes that industrial customers could help drive prices for everyone lower through greater demand response through real-time monitoring, smart technologies, and load visualization. This sounds like...
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