What Kind Of Power do you have?
Monday, June 18, 2007 at 08:09PM
Toby Considine in Background

I am writing this in the evening of a day that hit 94, with humidity to match. I live in a 150 year old house that cannot be kept controlled to modern standards. In fact, we have no heating or cooling on the second floor, where the bedrooms are. Ahh, life in the double 90’s

I ran no Air Conditioning today, or even yet this year. Even so, I arrived home to a house that was 20 degrees cooler than the outside, which had already cooled off since the afternoon. I manage temperature the old fashioned way, as befits the house. I run a fan in the attic, where hottest air builds up, to reduce the heat load on the house. I open windows at night after the heat breaks, and close them, and the curtains, before I go to work. After driving home though traffic, the interior of the house felt plenty cool at 71 degrees.

This means I am using energy storage. I do not have to wait for new fangled hydrogen batteries to come along. I am managing energy without fancy photovoltaics. My house has almost no footprint on the grid during peak hours in the afternoon.

What do I get for this? I do not get any price advantages, except those from not using power at all. I am not using the grid overnight to over-chill the house, taking advantage of cheaper pricing that I do not get.

What I get for this is 12:00 flashing on every device in the house. What I get is the right to re-program all modern electronic systems in the house tonight. What I get is the certain knowledge that that my daughter’s laptop, left on but sleeping during the day was probably damaged. What I get is the knowledge that the television probably has a shorter life.

Why do I have to put up with this? I live halfway between a major research university and a huge nuclear power plant. My house is about 150 yards from a 4 lane highway. Many people have worse power than I. The power company tells each of us that we have good power.

I want to have power that is defined by the quality of the power arriving at my house, not by the percentage of minutes that an incandescent bulb would actually turn on. I want power that will not lead to an early failure of the systems in the house. I want something that protects me from the quality of the power that is actually provided me.

I want to be able to automate the procedures I follow to reduce my demand. I want a house that understands hot days and saves me a half hour as I leave in the morning by making the adjustments for me. I want to be able to store more kinds of energy, so I do not have to reprogram everything in the house when the power company fails me. Again. I want to see how much money I saved when I come home at night.

They say the first thing you must do to recover, is acknowledge you have a problem. Well, my name is Toby, and I have bad power. My friends at CP&L tell me I have good power, but I am beginning to suspect that they do not have my best interests at heart.

I admit I have no control over my power. I need help.

Article originally appeared on New Daedalus (http://www.newdaedalus.com/).
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