Re: Obama’s Energy bill: A recipe for economic destruction
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You make some very good points and I am impressed that you have been taking action in bringing these issues up through your profession. I agree that the codification of building standards is clearly needed to protect the health and well being of the people who inhabit our "built" environment. Energy and water usage and concerns for the environment should certainly be part of that specification process.
You mentioned new homes and the competition for budgeting priorities and no doubt, for most, there is more appeal to having a nice kitchen as opposed to a geothermal heat pump. Your example is excellent as residential heat pumps last longer and are very simple mechanically compared to alternatives and they produce 0% carbon emissions.
Most important, as you have calculated, is the ROI – 250-300% efficient (air duct system) and 300 to 450% efficient (hydronic system; radiant for example). During the cooling mode, a geothermal heat pump can provide almost "free" hot potable water by taking advantage of the rejected refrigerent heat.
Gas, oil, biomass, and electric heating equipment can deliver at best, around 96-97% efficiency (electric heating is sometimes assumed to be 100% efficient, but there are generation and distribution losses). A 75% energy reduction may be realized by installing a geothermal heat pump – that is significant! If the home has an average monthly heating and cooling energy cost of $300, it may be reduced by $225 to $75.
Some states provide tax write-offs and other incentives to encourage conservation. I agree, a lot more should be done by using the carrot approach. For example, if it is shown that a $225 energy savings may be had, then the borrower should have that amount applied to their mortgage credit ratio. The result would be a higher credit worthiness which should help secure a better interest rate or enable the homeowner to borrow more money so that they may have their granite counter tops, custom cabinets, etc; and a geothermal heat pump system.
The best thing that we could do if we are serious about reducing our energy consumption in a big way, would be to help fund the costs of upgrading every new and existing home in the country. I suggest 0% loans should be available for qualified energy saving projects to new and existing homes. We can do this without adding any new taxes, without applying any penalties and without putting the government one penny in debt.