Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wa waa wawa

The Tennessean provides cover, again, for Al Gore's 'energy' usage this morning by confusing apples and oranges:

In fact, over the past year the Gores’ utility bills have dropped 40 percent, thanks largely to the house’s spanking new geothermal heating and cooling system, which has reduced the Gores’ natural gas bill by 90 percent in the past year.
TCPR wasn't talking about his 'energy' use. Just his electricity use. Notice the Gore spokesman isn't denying that the electricity use has gone up and I'll grant that renovations could have used some extra electricity--but since November the savings haven't been enough to more than counter that and slow that electric meter? Oh, but that's OK, because he's buying green power. That's also beside the point. (Is there really this much 'green power' being created by NES/TVA or is this another shell game like Gore's carbon credits? )

Surprising to me is that Gore's 33 solar panels only provide 4% of his electricity needs. This family of six doesn't even have room for 33 solar panels. The part that America cannot get past is why do the two of them need 20 times the electricity of the average household? Around here the big energy consumers are the children. Teen showers, fridge door opening and closing over and over, computer games and television use, reading lights, LAUNDRY--and we're using a clothesline! The Gore children are adults out on their own, right? How can Al & Tipper use this much electricity in a home?

Gore needs to lead by example. The Gores need to simplify their life before he hits the stump again with scary stories about what will happen if we don't. Otherwise, it all sounds a lot like the adults in a Charlie Brown special: Wa waa wawa, wawaawaa.


Eric H said...

"Kreider pointed out that the renovations weren't complete until November, so it’s a bit early to be attempting before-and-after comparisons"

Uhhh, you mean like the claim you just made of 40% reductions?

If he really obtained a USGBC LEED gold certification, it is a registered project with them and documentation is available. For his 10,000 s.f. (if memory serves correct) estate, the required points would be much higher than for an average home to get the same certification. See p. 16 of the guide here:

Of course, this certification entails new construction from site preparation to finishes, so I am guessing they had to give a lot of credits for existing conditions, since all that has been reported is the HVAC and lighting upgrades (and the 4% solar panels).

What I am really interested in is the cost of the upgrades vs. the estimated 40% savings. I am willing to guess that it is a 15+ year payback. If you made the comparison on a straight electric home (no expensive gas to offset), it would be much worse.

Kay Brooks said...

Great catch, Eric, regarding the 40% savings.