There’s another great article in Wired Mag today about personal energy independence – you know the idea of slapping up some solar panels and a wind turbine then sitting back and popping open a (freshly chilled) cold one. The best incentive about a properly designed energy system is that in most states, you can literally become a neighborhood power station, when the sun is bright, your electricity meter literally runs backwards, making you money and not the other way around. The resulting hybrid energy grid, or “hygrid”, is a lot more reliable the more people get involved. It also means that homeowners and business don’t need to buy a bunch of toxic and costly batteries to store electricity in their basements, the grid essentially becomes the battery, buying up excess and returning it in the form of cash.
The guy in the photo is owner of a Chicago Burrito chain that recently installed solar water heating on one of its locations.
Lamas now saves money by heating water directly with solar thermal. He also saves indirectly, by consolidating the prep work for the entire chain – washing and cooking vegetables, for example – where the energy comes cheapest. As a result, he saves close to $2,000 a month. At that rate, his investment will pay for itself in less than five years. “It’s good for everybody,” he says. “And it can actually make you money.”