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View Poll Results: Doom + Gloomers: what are you doing to prepare?
staying the course against your better judgement 74 66.07%
getting out of stock market 6 5.36%
stockpiling cash 15 13.39%
buying gold 7 6.25%
converting assets to another currency 7 6.25%
stockpiling food/water/guns/ammo 15 13.39%
buying'73 Ford Falcon Coupe and converting it into an impregnable fortress/killing machine (shoulder pads + shotgun free with car) 11 9.82%
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Old 07-30-2008, 12:43 PM   #81
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Now we can get the vegans off our backs.
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Old 07-30-2008, 03:52 PM   #82
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I think it's one of those 'don't look, don't tell tell, kind of plants.'



heh heh heh - So what if the silly market keeps going up - what are we gonna do for gloom and doom?
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Old 07-30-2008, 03:59 PM   #83
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Sit around and grumble about how we missed the buying opportunity and how hard it is to find dirt cheap investments.

But shoot....I'd put in a good dozen or so bacon plants. Might be tough to keep the bugs off though, and that four pounds of thick cut dry cure bacon at costco for $12 is a pretty good deal to outsource the hassle of agriculture.

Besides...what the hell would you fertilize a bacon plant with?!?
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Old 07-30-2008, 04:35 PM   #84
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It's about 25 cents/KWHr-- this month.

The economic case also depends on how cheaply you can get the parts, how much labor you can do on your own, and state/federal tax subsidies. It might be less burdensome than you think, especially if you factor in 3-4% annual inflation over two decades.
In the current issue of Time, it is said that electricity cost in Hawaii is (or going to be) 29c/KWh, because all power comes from expensive oil rather than coal as on mainland.

I just took a look at our bill. Normally, my wife takes care of all bills and expenses, so I did not know. We signed up for the demand rate. The only lifestyle change we make is to not run washer/drier/pool pump during peak hours, and to put a timer on the water heater.

Last month, ignoring the fix charges, we used 727 KWh during on-peak, and 2927 KWh during off-peak. The cost is 19.5c on-peak, and 5.8c off-peak.

727 * 0.195 = $142
2927 * 0.058 = $170

Average = $312/3654 = 8.5c / KWh

If we use the straight rate option, then it would have cost 10.5c / KWh. So, the demand rate saves me money.

-------

A couple of years ago, I looked at just component costs (panels+inverter) and no labor costs, as I was going to do it all myself. At the straight rate of 10c/KWh, and just a rough estimate of how much power production to expect, I figure a return of just 5 to 6% a year on the principal. So, without rebate or subsidy, I am about breaking even with investing money elsewhere (bonds perhaps). With maintenance cost, I would be in the red with solar panels.

That was before I signed up for the demand rate. That would have nearly doubled the return. But then, solar panels have gone up in price since I looked, I am sure.

Here is another complication. During the summer, solar panels complement the A/C usage very well during the day, when the peak period is set. But the peak period during the winter is different.

In short, I am sure yours works, i.e. saves you money. But, a residential solar system in AZ is something a tinkerer would love to have, but may not be able to make an economic case of.
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Old 07-30-2008, 07:53 PM   #85
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Last month, ignoring the fix charges, we used 727 KWh during on-peak, and 2927 KWh during off-peak.
Jumpin' Jehosophat! We used about 1500kwh last month and I was grouchy about it. But looks like you have an electric hwh which explains a bit of it.

I guess I'll have to stop barking at my wife for leaving the tv on when she's not watching it...
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Old 07-30-2008, 08:05 PM   #86
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My usage on the last bill was 1721 kWH. A hot July...
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Old 07-30-2008, 08:06 PM   #87
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2,093 here, but it's a windy type of electricity...
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Old 07-30-2008, 08:24 PM   #88
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1290 kw - but I am only 1100 sq ft house. North of Kansas City.

heh heh heh -

$120.46
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Old 07-30-2008, 08:39 PM   #89
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1305 kWh, in my 1558 square foot house in New Orleans and it has been hotter than Hades this summer (humid, too!).

My bill was $175. Last year at this time I used 1016 kWh and my bill was $99.
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Old 07-30-2008, 08:40 PM   #90
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1305 kWh, in my 1558 square foot house in New Orleans and it has been hotter than Hades this summer (humid, too!).

But my bill was $175.
Wow. My bill was only $190 for twice the Sq Ft...
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Old 07-30-2008, 08:41 PM   #91
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$237 here... Natgas bill about $18.
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Old 07-30-2008, 08:51 PM   #92
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Wow. My bill was only $190 for twice the Sq Ft...
I know, and you used 2093 kWh as compared with my 1305 kWh. What can I say. We have fancier, snootier, more deluxe kWh here?

Many people here in New Orleans say we are getting ripped off unusually heavily charged on almost all of our bills, electricity being one of them. As for me, I say nothing and keep my mouth shut and my nose to the grindstone, while I just pay, pay, pay.
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Old 07-30-2008, 09:00 PM   #93
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My house is 2800sq.ft., two story. Compared to newer houses in AZ, it's average size. You all made me feel bad, but when I compared usage to my friends, mine wasn't bad. The total that I quoted above was without taxes, fix charges, etc... With those, the total bill was $353. Last year, my highest usage was >4000KWh in September. My AC is only 4 y.o. too.

What did I tell you about AZ? It's hot here, people. I've been here all my adult life. When newcomers ask me if they can get used to it, I say for me it's getting tougher every year. When in college, I drove a non-AC car. Now, I would not go outside in the middle of day. Highest temp was 122 deg a few years ago.

My mountain home is a different situation. When we spent time up there in the winter, low temp was around 0 deg. Inside, I set central air to 40 deg. With an electric blanket, we were comfortable sleeping at night. During the day, the passive solar heating got the interior to 60-70 degF, while the outside warmed up to 40 deg. Highest electric bill < $100. No gas or propane.


So, that's it. I am literally running for the hill if the mush hits the blade. Problem is it is just as tough living off the land up there as it is down in the desert. Remember the thread topic is to prepare for doom+gloom.
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Old 07-30-2008, 09:03 PM   #94
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Last month, 1465 Kwh for a 2,500 sqft house in hot and humid deep south, $118... Not too bad for a 30 year old with single glaze windows...
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Old 07-30-2008, 09:28 PM   #95
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I figure a return of just 5 to 6% a year on the principal. So, without rebate or subsidy, I am about breaking even with investing money elsewhere (bonds perhaps).
Heck, if you want to earn money on your solar investments then buy the stocks of solar-industry manufacturers. I made enough cap gains out of Evergreen Solar's good years to pay for half their panels.

Your analogy could be tortured a bit further to point out that when high inflation pounds stocks & bonds, if electricity rates are boosted by that same inflation then your panels will pay an even higher dividend. But we've never had electrical utility rates drop in Hawaii.

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With maintenance cost, I would be in the red with solar panels.
I give up. What maintenance costs are you referring to?

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But then, solar panels have gone up in price since I looked, I am sure.
The price varies with size, power density, ease of installation, and fashion. In other words if you decide to pay $4/watt or less, you'll probably find it. I was scraping like crazy a few years ago to find panels at $4/watt (used & manufacturer's seconds) but earlier this year a Craigslist seller in our area was getting rid of 10 KW worth at that price. So in broad terms I'll speculate that you should be able to find panels at half the retail price, and if you're willing to go with closeouts or used panels then you'll get an even better deal.

The industry is perpetually on the cusp of rendering its products obsolete, but I think thin-film panels are getting ready to put a dent in silicon (and this time it's really different). Silicon will crater in price yet it works just fine. The demand created by German & Japanese subsidies is starting to subside, too, just as everyone is ramping up production. So I think that you'll find good prices if you can keep monitoring the market and waiting for a dip.

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In short, I am sure yours works, i.e. saves you money. But, a residential solar system in AZ is something a tinkerer would love to have, but may not be able to make an economic case of.
Well, you seem to have made up your mind and I'm not going to try to change it. But I think your payback analysis should include a reasonable rate of inflation in electrical utility rates as well as the effects of state & federal tax subsidies.

I think that if you're willing to do your own installation, build your own racks, and go for a simple grid-tied system that you'll be able to do it in the next three years for less money than I spent in the last three years. And I'm pretty sure you'll do a lot better on shipping charges!
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Old 07-30-2008, 09:47 PM   #96
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As I understand it, solar panels work from sunlight. As such, they'll never work in a place like Arizona.
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Old 07-30-2008, 10:52 PM   #97
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Last month's (June) bill was 249 kWh. Cost was $57. 1800 sq ft home (single) in CT.
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Old 07-30-2008, 10:56 PM   #98
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Last month's (June) bill was 249 kWh. Cost was $57. 1800 sq ft home (single) in CT.
Ha! Just be sure to tell us about your heating oil bill this winter!!

(You can rag on my cost per square foot of home in San Diego now).
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Old 07-31-2008, 12:47 AM   #99
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You sure can tell who the guy is that has no air conditioning and only 3 CFL lights in his house, cantcha?
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Old 07-31-2008, 01:25 AM   #100
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As I understand it, solar panels work from sunlight. As such, they'll never work in a place like Arizona.
Quite ironic isn't it, when you take into account the local economics?

Other posters make me appreciate the low rates we are paying for electricity here. I understand how it is expensive in Hawaii, but I did not know that in mainland it could differ significantly from one locality or state to the next. You would think the national grid would equalize the price somewhat. Obviously, a lot of politics or what have you enter into the price that is set.

By the way, different parts of AZ are served by different power companies, and the price may vary between them too. I have been told that my power company has been the lowest!



We have no gas, so electric usage includes the electric water heater and the range. But the AC is foremost. In April when we need no heating nor cooling, the lowest consumption was 1740KWh.

In Jan, our peak month for winter usage when we used the heat pump, the consumtion was 2500KWh. Yet the price was much lower than proportional to the peak summer bill. It's because another winter demand rate comes into effect here.

About state/federal subsidies or power company rebate to make solar power more cost effective, I admit I have been too lazy to check into that. But I hope to at least make the point that the local price structure of power will complicate the financial equation quite a bit.
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