Days of Change

Taking Your Appliances to Meet Impossible Goals

March 26, 2023
Comments Off on Taking Your Appliances to Meet Impossible Goals

Wow. I am no good at writing titles these days.

Long before this blog, I wrote about technology like electric cars when there was the Prius and, not much else. The Chevrolet Volt was announced, but not built for years after. Chris Paine directed the anti-GM documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” In subsequent interviews, he talked about how great the technology of the Prius (which used NiMH batteries) was. When he made a sequel, he was taking delivery of a Tesla. In about 5 years, cars went from being hybrids that ran efficiently on gas to fully electric vehicles with higher capacity batteries. Imagine if everyone bought a Prius when they first came out (or a Volt). They’d be annoyed that they couldn’t get a Tesla with a power socket and newer batteries.

The environmentalist mantra of “electrify everything” is trying to shift consumption to fairly new technology that may improve in 5-10 years and is really not ready for prime time in much of the northern US. Even if it were, electric grid capacity is severely lagging. There is some value in bringing more solar and wind power online at the utility level. But there are NIMBY issues, location issues with distance from substations and a fairly big financial cost unless current power plants actually reach catastrophic failure. Getting us off foreign oil will also be helped by renewables, but not from people putting in their own panels.

Countries that made climate pledges are finding that the costs to go green exceeded their expectations and are trying to save face. The cheapest way to make anything happen in government is the unfunded mandate. Pass a law telling people what to do, don’t pay them for it and fine them if they don’t comply. Then politicians can look good in front of the UN by claiming x amount of fossil fuels were cut by forcing poor people to buy appliances they don’t need.

In New York, the state is “recommending” a ban on natural gas furnaces by 2025 to be replaced by air source heat pumps. Ground source heat pumps are highly effective, but their upfront cost is not something New York is willing to pay for in grants. Air source heat pumps are cheaper, but can freeze up or require additional heaters while they are maxing out your electric demand. New York wants to give rebates for those because they’re cheap and they *almost* work.

New York and the Federal government want to phase out the gas stove as well. From a perspective of reducing fossil fuels, gas ranges would be the last on the list. They don’t get used for a long time during the day but they use large amounts of energy when on. The conversion to electricity would almost certainly cost a homeowner money in electrical upgrades along with the higher cost of electricity vs. gas which can’t be overcome with efficiency gains.

There will be early adopters who put solar panels on the roof or buy new whiz-bang appliances because they’re new. Those people are also likely to buy the very next new appliance because of the improvements. A lot of electrification technology is hard to install, hard to service and is not proven over time. This is why taking away the time factor by claiming global destruction in 25 years is the future. How long ago was Al Gore saying the same thing?

Posted in Uncategorized
    March 2023
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