During Saturday's show, Richard Perez, publisher of Home Power Magazine(1), talked about America's energy situation and how we can liberate ourselves from the power grid. Perez himself has been living off the grid since 1970, utilizing a combination of wind generators, photovoltaic (solar cell) systems, and a gasoline-powered generator to provide all his electrical power. Perez said he produces all the power he needs and can store up to 4-5 days worth of electricity in batteries for use during times when his power production is low.
For consumers interested in becoming less dependent on the U.S. power grid, Perez suggested reducing thermal and electrical loads by:
- Replacing single-pane windows with double-pane
- Increasing the R-value of insulation in walls and roof
- Using energy efficient appliances
Perez said Energy Star compliant appliances consume only 1/3 to 1/2 of the electricity of older machines made just 10 years ago. He also suggested replacing incandescent light bulbs with either compact fluorescent or LED bulbs. According to Perez, if all American residential consumers switched from incandescent to compact fluorescent light bulbs, they would cut their power bill by 25% (and five to seven coal burning power plants could be eliminated).
For those intrepid souls wising to live completely off the grid, Perez estimated it would cost about $15,000 - $20,000 to outfit an already energy efficient house with a self-contained power system. He said people producing their own power should remain connected to the grid and sell their excess power back to power companies.
The New Zealand government recently announced that power from the Te Aptiti wind farm has officially been connected into their national grid. The Te Aptiti site currently has seventeen wind turbines, and is poised to become the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere. When complete it will boast 55 turbines and a power output around 90 MW, enough to power 32,000 homes. Read more about the Te Aptiti wind farm here(1).