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    Ask The Experts: Home Energy Solutions

    Live Q&A on options for conserving & producing energy at home
    by Adam Taggart

    Friday, February 26, 2021, 7:41 PM

During our recent annual seminar, we heard strong feedback that folks wanted more time to pick the brains of the guest experts we interview here at Peak Prosperity.

Well, you asked; and we listened.

Which is why we recently launched a new service to Peak Prosperity’s premium subscription called ‘Ask The Experts’.

Each month or so, we provide access to a domain expert for a full hour of Q&A. No presentations. They’re simply there to answer whatever questions you & the rest of the audience care about most.

Our first ‘Ask The Experts’ session focused on Real Estate Investing, and featured Russ Gray and Robert Helms, who have decades of experience teaching new and seasoned investors how to own real estate for safety and profit.

It was an extremely informative discussion during which Russ and Robert dropped some high-value knowledge bombs. But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what participants had to say at the end of the session:

“Great job guys. Keep it up please.” (J.G.)

“This is great stuff! More, please” (K.A.)

“Love it & looking forward to the next one!!” (CFP)

“Very informative and would love more. Thanks to you all.” (M.O.)

“Very informative….can’t wait for next one!’ (A.J.)

“Lots to think about. Thank you. Looking forward to more.” (K.E.)

“Great discussion. Thank you. Looking forward to seeing more talks.” (B.Q.)

This month we focus on affordable and effective Home Energy solutions for conserving and/producing power.

Next week at 5pm ET on Wed March 3, Bruce Sullivan from the Zero Energy Project (he’s the expert who presented at our October seminar) will field any and all of your home energy questions that we can squeeze into the hour.

And don’t worry if you can’t make this when it airs live. A replay video of the event will be sent out afterwards to everyone who registers. We’ll also post it in the premium section of the PeakProsperity.com website.

So if this new series is the inspiration you’ve needed to subscribe to Peak Prosperity’s premium service — which costs less than $1/day — click here to Enroll now.

And if you’re already a premium subscriber, click the button below to register for next week’s  ‘Ask The Experts’: Home Energy Solutions live Q&A session

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23 Comments

  • Sat, Feb 27, 2021 - 12:42pm

    #1
    centroid

    centroid

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    centroid said:

    how does one use the thermal energy of the earth

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  • Sun, Feb 28, 2021 - 8:57am

    #2
    mikeault

    mikeault

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    Natural gas powered backup generators for home

    For a long time I believed that a natural gas powered backup generator would be the best energy backup solution for my home.  However, after researching the reviews of many of these products, it seems that all manufacturers have serious quality control problems.  Has anyone had good luck with a particular product ?  If so, which one ?

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  • Sun, Feb 28, 2021 - 9:50am

    #3
    wotthecurtains

    wotthecurtains

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    wotthecurtains said:

    +1 for Nat Gas questions.

    Honda makes an EU line of generators that are Gasoline powered but there are cheap conversion kits that allow you run Nat Gas or Propane and still run gasoline in a pinch.

    I was planning to grab a smaller one with the idea of being able to run my (nat gas) furnace off it in a Texas Scenario.

    These Gens run relatively quiet too.

    I may go bigger and pair this idea with a Telsa  Power Wall style battery because my monthly electrical usage is such that a 1000-2000W generator would be enough to cover my whole usage for a month.   The generator can't run the clothes dryer or start the fridge up while the furnace is running, but it could trickle charge the battery which is powerful enough to provide surge power. when needed

    Once you have the battery wall (wouldnt get Tesla one because it is IOT and wont work if not connected to the internet) you can start adding solar panels too.   The downside is the cost to buy the battery plus hook it up to the mains.

     

    But it seems like a good use of money compared to just dropping $20K on a big Nat Gas generator.

     

    Can't wait to hear what others are thinking.

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  • Sun, Feb 28, 2021 - 11:20am

    Chuck in Belize

    Chuck in Belize

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    Back-Up Generators

    We got a 14 KW Generac model about six years ago, and it has performed flawlessly.i don't have the exact model number, and they have probably changed their lineup by now, anyway.  This one was designed from the start to work on Natural Gas, Propane, or Butane. We get home deliveries of Butane here, so it's been quite painless and definitely worth the price of purchase. The biggest reasons I had for choosing this brand was its reputation for quality, and secondarily that there is an official Dealer here in Belize who did the complete installation and check-out. We have an annual inspection, they come out, change a few filters and the oil, and that's been it. Generac will cover warranty here, since we purchased from an authorized dealer.

    The only thing I had to do was to pour a 3'x5' concrete pad to put it on.It's very quiet (given that it's 14 KW) and has been completely trouble-free.

    The only issue with it that disappointed me is that it has trouble with starting some of my large shop tools (like my 5HP table saw). The starting current was just too much for the generator to manage, and it blew up the starting cap on my saw motor.  The generator itself was totally unharmed by that incident.As an aside, I would strongly advise getting a model that includes an Automatic Transfer Switch. It seems like the weather outside when we lose power is just not conducive to going out and throwing a manual switch and making sure it all starts.

    Three others in our neighborhood also bought Generac units and as far as I know everybody is happy with them.  One penny-pinching fellow bought some no-name unit to save himself some bucks, and it's failed him over and over -- plus, the thing's made in China and he can't even find replacement parts so a local tech just had to kludge everything to keep it running.  I bet he's spent more on that "less expensive" unit than I have on mine. He's had to suffer weeks of down-time waiting on parts.

    Good luck. Bottom line, I'm definitely a Generac fan.

    -- Chuck

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  • Sun, Feb 28, 2021 - 11:32am

    #5
    2retired

    2retired

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    2retired said:

    The question should be, what is still working when the electricity goes off? You can have your own generator (or power source), but then you need an isolation switch and a fuel supply, which will be useable (gasoline needs to be refreshed or kept current, and generators will be temperamental with old gas(some have 3 fuel filters), which means draining the fuel). Even most natural gas units now have electronics that are dependant on intact power and natural gas pumping stations are dependant on power sources.  And how much fuel will you need to last more than a week running your generator? I think the best solution if you are starting; is an isolation switch for a circuit of crucial power needs (septic, well pump, fridge/freezer), propane converted generator and some big tanks). Our back-up system, for our retreat; is gas generator based, (with reduce power needs), as I am used to keeping gas fresh for numerous other machines, but it comes down to wether your system will keep you operational for a few days, one week or 3 or 4+ weeks without power; solar for lights, for heat we have 3-4 years in split wood (plus a way to get there). We also have not so infrequent involuntary tests for our system when the winter storms come through.

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  • Sun, Feb 28, 2021 - 11:35am

    Chuck in Belize

    Chuck in Belize

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    Natural Gas conversions

    Hello, WOT,

    Before we had our Generac, I had a good-size Honda unit that ran on gasoline, and I bought a conversion kit for Propane/Butane.

    An expert-at-engines friend helped me install the conversion, and I was totally disappointed. The engine simply did not develop the same horsepower or torque on Butane that it did on gasoline. We tweaked, fiddled, and tweaked some more.

    We never could get it to run well.

    I ended up removing the conversion parts, restoring the generator back to gasoline, and selling it to somebody who wasn't looking for a true backup generator.

    Maybe others have had better luck with conversions than I did, but I think it's like a lot of things.  If you want something to run on Gas, then you design it that way from the get-go.  My engineering background certainly reinforces that belief.

    It's sort of like a "flying car." You can design a fantastic airplane. You can design a fantastic automobile.  But if you try to moosh them together, you get something that's neither a good car nor a good airplane.

    Just my two cents' worth.

    -- Chuck

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  • Sun, Feb 28, 2021 - 11:46am

    #7
    robie robinson

    robie robinson

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    Over many

    decades of farming, we have accumulated several generators. A 45 kw pto powered unit, it will run all you can imagine but really sucks diesel and prefers a 100 hp John Deere diesel, my 55 pto hp tractor really groans. Secondly, a 12 hp Yamaha water cooled diesel that is the most frequently used, under full load it uses about a quart of diesel an hour. A light weight Honda gas job is what gets thrown into the truck when I have a project too far for extension cords.

    with southside va’s recent ice storm, the Yamaha ran about 12 days. However, it was running about 8 hrs. each day. With our diesel stores and the Yamaha, our farm could conceivably go about two years. This includes AC etc.

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  • Sun, Feb 28, 2021 - 11:50am

    #8
    robie robinson

    robie robinson

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    We are rural

    yet many suburbtopians have opted for propane generators. Three of them were glad to put my Yamaha in their truck as they ran out of propane.

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  • Sun, Feb 28, 2021 - 12:43pm

    #9
    Hans

    Hans

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    Hans said:

    Make sure your energy consumption is downsized to an absolute minimum when needed.

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  • Sun, Feb 28, 2021 - 1:03pm

    2retired

    2retired

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    2retired said:

    Those are valid points about propane, The advantage(for me) of gas is I put dated fuel into the truck, and refresh supplies, so can keep track (and use) of any old gas. If I ran a diesel truck, then with tractor, I could keep supplies circulating, and it is probably a better fuel to store and use.

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  • Sun, Feb 28, 2021 - 2:26pm

    Chuck in Belize

    Chuck in Belize

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    Gasoline V. Propane (et. al.)

    The thing about gaseous fuels that can make a HUGE difference ...
    There IS no aging. There ARE no gummy deposits. Maintenance virtually goes away.
    Yes, there is leakage, but, hey ... anything can leak. Liquids, gases, ... all of them.
    But if you've ever cleaned a carburetor, or had water frozen in the bowl, or had to spray something into your air intake just to get your damn engine to start, you know what I mean.  I am nothing short of amazed how reliable my Butane generator is.

    The next thing (uppermost in my mind) worth considering is overall supply.
    In today's environment, the liquid fuels whether they be gasoline, kerosene or Diesel, ALL have considerable issues when you consider the refining/distillation process.
    They are all products of a Refinery.  Nowadays there are fewer and fewer of them.  Nobody wants to live next door to a refinery.

    Gaseous products are at this point way more abundant, readily available, easy to liquify, and really just as safe as the liquid alternatives.  Haven't you seen pictures of gas being burned-off at the well-head, thrown away as it were, in order to get the oil pumped up?  What a damn waste.

    Finally -- governments love to tax.  However they pay less attention to NatGas.

    Believe me - I am not endorsing fossil fuels as a way for the world to continue on a path of exponential growth in energy use.  There IS no such fuel.

    What I do think is that with natural gas in relative abundance, relatively clean-burning, and relatively easy to handle, that this resource can carry us forward better than any alternative fossil fuel, until a cleaner, cheaper, more abundant source can be utilized at scale. ( Thorium, can you hear me? )

    Plus, on a lighter note ...
    There's enough Natural Gas produced by the flatulence of Cows and Politicians, to carry us through many decades of transition.

    -- Chuck

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  • Sun, Feb 28, 2021 - 2:51pm

    robie robinson

    robie robinson

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    Flatulence?

    ‘merica is full of it.

    diesel? Keep fungal growth at bay and it last decades. I would love to think how NG, Propane, Butane etc. would be delivered in the long emergency. Am I defending my life, my choices? Of Course!

    My mare is settled. What was the last sustainable civilization? Gotta figure the stone age. Please read Derrick Jenson’s “Endgame”. My prayer is to create a soft landing for my family and friends.

    obtw, my drafts can tend 15 acres. I am responsible for 200.

    I love the PP community. robie,husband,father,farmer,optometrist,(a poor and reluctant typist)

    eating brussel sprouts, long in the tooth, and sweet 🥔 for supper.

     

     

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  • Sun, Feb 28, 2021 - 4:33pm

    #13
    wotthecurtains

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    wotthecurtains said:

    Thanks for the pointers Chuck.  I think I would get even less out of Nat Gas than propane too so that's a consideration.

    Mostly I'm thinking about the grid becoming unstable as fossil fuel and hydro get replaced with wind and solar based electricity. The battery also comes in when I imagine peak hour pricing (which we don't yet do in my locale).

     

    As others have pointed out, I definitely don't want to cheap out and then regret it later on.   Ive also been told by people that the inverter in the Honda units might not play so well with my furnace if I tried to use it as an emergency generator.   Of course the Honda marketing says its an awesome inverter 🙂

    This should be a really good segment of Ask The Experts

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  • Mon, Mar 01, 2021 - 4:26am

    Wolfbay

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    Wolfbay said:

    We’ve lived off grid with PVs for 12 years. Our batteries keep the power flowing most of the time but still need a back up generator at times. We have a 15 kw kubota diesel gen that so far has been problem free. As the US goes green on a larger scale the problems with intermittent energy from solar and wind are going to become apparent. Germany is already finding out.

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  • Mon, Mar 01, 2021 - 8:33am

    #15
    Cj Sloane

    Cj Sloane

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    Cj Sloane said:

    I've lived off grid in Vermont for 29 years.

    Reduce consumption as low as possible and have 3 ways to perform each function.

    For example my main cooker is a propane stove. I can also cook in my wood stove. I also have a one burner butane stove - mostly used for mushroom growing but will heat coffee indoors when the wood stove isn't used. And I have an outdoor, wood fired brick oven plus a fire pit.

    So that's actually 5 ways to cook my food. One of these days I'll make a proper haybox for a 6th method. https://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/haybox-cooking-zmaz80jfzraw

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  • Mon, Mar 01, 2021 - 2:01pm

    TWalker5

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    To Centroid, re using the earth’s heat

    We had a Hydron ground source heat pump installed nine years ago. While it was pricey on the front end, at about $32k, it was the best investment I’ve ever made.  We live in a rural area, past where the natural gas lines run. Heating a home with propane is crazy expensive.  Our annual heating and cooling costs went from approximately $5500/yr to about $800/year as the GSHP barely sips electricity and uses no gas/oil/propane/etc.  At that rate it will have paid for itself many times over in its lifespan and the fact that it’s quite environmentally friendly is a nice bonus.

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  • Tue, Mar 02, 2021 - 8:40am

    #17
    Mike Anderson

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    Solar thermal via photovoltaics

    Following Green Building Advisor Martin Holladay's observation that solar thermal is dead but photovoltaic panels are becoming dirt cheap, I recently acquired 9kW of dirt cheap panels, but I hope to avoid buying a second expensive 3.6kW 120V Outback off-grid inverter.  So I'd like a good way to bypass the inverter and create domestic hot water with an off-the-shelf resistive-element electric water heater (with propane backup) and a high-capacity DC switch that engages when the batteries are charged.  I'll probably figure it out eventually, but expert advice is also welcome.

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  • Tue, Mar 02, 2021 - 9:52am

    ckessel

    ckessel

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    ckessel said:

    Hi Mike,

    I too have listened to the arguments about solar thermal being dead for many years. I installed my solar thermal drainback system in 1985 and it has worked without fail for 35 years and it turned on again this morning as soon as the sun peaked over the horizon. The system paid for itself by 1992.

    I use a combination solar thermal system which has one array sized to about 15% of my living space floor area. (this will vary depending upon your location on the planet)

    The array provides heat for space heating using a radiant floor storage/delivery system and it also heats my domestic water via thermosiphon from the solar heated drainback tank.

    On a sunny winter day it provides 100% of my space heating and about 50% of my water heating. It is prioritized to space heating so the drainback tank water temperature does not rise much above 90 degrees because the warm water is going into the radiant floor storage. In the summer (early April through late October) 100% of my domestic water heating is provided by solar. During Summer theree is ample extra heat to keep a hot tub at 104deg. , discharging into a pool if you are so inclined, or cooking. The 180 degree solar heated water (maximum summer water temp) can be circulated through a double walled kettle for making tomato paste and so on.

    These systems are not readily available due to lack of interest and long term cheap energy prices. It is also somewhat difficult to retrofit to an existing home due to difficulties in adding the radiant floor. As a result I have had to design and fabricate these 'Combination Solar Systems' to incorporate into the projects I am involved in. The drainback tank is fabricated using stainless steel and I have also upgraded the design to include a wood fire box and a water jacket flue system so that wood can supply the space and domestic water heating during inclement weather.

    You can find solar thermal drainback systems for domestic water heating. They generally run in the 50 to 60 % efficiency range measured in percent of solar energy captured. Solar PV is usually in the range of 12 to 15% mainly because converting heat energy from the sun into electricity (phase change process) is less efficient.

    I don't recommend using solar PV to create heat energy at all but I confess, my wife really does a great job on our winter vegetables with our Air Fryer appliance and our PV system does produce a surplus but it is sized to pretty well match our consumption.

    Our water system is from a well using a Grondfos 11- SQF solar pump which delivers into a holding tank. We want our water to be 100% stand alone so we have water and fire protection no matter what but we do use a booster pump for household pressure which runs off the PV system.

    I am a proponent of Solar Thermal systems provided they are of a drain-back design which is foolproof for freezing climates.

    Coop

     

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  • Tue, Mar 02, 2021 - 10:08am

    Mike Anderson

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    solar thermal

    I tried to design a solar thermal drainback system in my new construction, but in the end I couldn't justify it.  Commercial solar tanks with both electric elements and heat exchangers are unduly expensive in the United States (not so for most of the rest of the world), so I would have to build my own drainback tank with heat exchanger, but then I realized I would need a rather large circulator pump and insulation to go 100 meters round-trip, and I'm aiming for resale value rather than a Rube Goldberg device that is obvious to only me.  I just found discussion about Mot's book "Take Back the Power: Sustainable energy and freedom are within your grasp" and might find a solution there.  I expect to have 3 to 4 times more PV production in summer than I need for the other non-resistive-heating appliances, but in the winter I might have to sip some propane.

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  • Wed, Mar 03, 2021 - 4:18am

    #20
    DanielleW

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    Question for QA session

    What do you recommend for solar battery backup to run as much of house as possible. Is there a solution to run 220 or would they all still run 110 in power outage situation? Thinking it would be awesome to be able to run well pump etc. I bought solar panels and batteries several years ago but forgot to pull them out and recharge them, so the battery life is about half what is was. Needless to say, I’m not happy about that....

    thanks in advance!

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  • Wed, Mar 03, 2021 - 10:45am

    #21
    Mike Anderson

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    Solar thermal via photovoltaics, continued

    Some further thoughts on the answer to my question after reading some of Mots' research (but not his book, since I'd have to set up a Windows or Mac environment to get Amazon Kindle format downloaded and readable offline in Linux).  I would certainly use something like the 10A 130V DC "dual pulser" Quasi-DC converter to use pulsed DC in place of AC as long as I don't have to design and manufacture the circuitboard (it takes me a long time to do that; it's not my day job) and there is provision for a larger MOSFET or a whole set of parallel MOSFETs that can be mounted on a separate heatsink.  To be clear, I can assemble a circuit, but creating copper traces on raw circuitboard is tricky if you're not set up for it, and often you can get them made in bulk at good prices.  There's also the matter of getting near the maximum power out of my PV panels.  If I put the pulsing circuit after my charge controller my potential would be only up to the design battery charging limit, 50 to 60V, but if I put it right on the output of the PV panels I'd have to undersize the load because there's not much under the power curve on a cloudy day, maybe 2%, if I were to have a fixed size load without MPPT (maximum power point tracking) sized for full sun.

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  • Wed, Mar 31, 2021 - 8:05am

    #22
    horeakaii2

    horeakaii2

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    horeakaii2 said:

    Nowadays, we already have a lot of home energy solutions available, and most of them are cost-efficient. We're so happy to have found Firman Generators. It has been one of the best so far!

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  • Fri, Apr 30, 2021 - 3:39am

    #23
    jack102

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    jack102 said:

    It's absolutely essential that people start to prep, the time for hyper-inflation is upon us. Thankful for finding peak prosperity and the prepping uk group

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