A new web site in the United States provides information to help homeowners select the best ways to produce their own power.
SAN DIEGO, California, US, 2001-04-10 <SolarAccess.com> “As California’s power crisis worsens, many suburban homeowners are investing in equipment to produce their own power,” says Lawrence Taylor, president of ResearchPB, Inc. “The challenge facing homeowners is comparing and then deciding where to spend their limited money.” Governments, utilities and manufacturers have published information about particular methods, but Taylor says homeowners sometimes make the wrong decisions and get equipment that is “dangerous, costly, beyond their skills, or hard to maintain.” He says the free web site summarizes the pros and cons of different technologies. The site compares different power production options for suburban homeowners, including solar electric (with and without batteries), wind turbines, solar forced air heating, solar domestic water heating, solar spa/hot tub heating, solar pool heating, gas generators, heating with fossil fuels and other forms of power generation. The sources are compared using criteria suitable for homeowners, including whether they are scaleable, their initial investment, the cost per output, ease of maintenance, continuous or intermittent output, grid blackout, space requirements, ease of installation, height restrictions, air pollution, and noise. “We want homeowners to be able to make the right power decisions, without hype or bias,” explains Taylor. “Our role is to provide quick summaries that work for typical suburban houses.” For most homes, the best values are usually conservation, not new energy production equipment, he explains. An old guide is that for every $1 spent on conservation, a homeowner will save $5 on new equipment. The site also explains that there is no single ‘magic bullet’ and that different technologies have different purposes and, if the wrong one is selected, “you can spend far too much money and may not solve your problem.” “Be careful: some greedy vendors are promoting their product as the answer to all homeowners’ problems,” it warns. Before investing, companies usually determine the Return On Investment (ROI), which are comprehensive and beyond the capability of the average homeowner, it says. If a homeowner goes beyond investments and financial returns, and includes personal values for reliability, environmental pollution, personal discomfort due to conservation and a desire to stabilize utility bills, “the results of your ROI calculations may surprise you.”