Power in the home

Martin has been an enthusiastic blogger about alternative energy — his biodiesel commuter car, a new cellulose ethanol plant, new biodiesel pumps in seattle. I admire his putting his investment and consumer dollars on the line.

It’s made me intrigued about power. I’ve started at the DOE site on power use by consumers. I learned that, as of 2001:

* We’re using about 95 Million BTU per household per year. About 4 3/4s short tons of coal for each of our homes if I did the math right.
* Most of our use in the home is for heating (our surroundings and our water) and cooling.
* The big story from 1993 to 2001 is declining power usage for heating, offset in part by greater cooling usage. I assume our heating systems are getting more efficient though there could be other reasons.
* Appliances and lighting are about a quarter of our use.

I am very curious about the next 10 years of use:

* What will hybrid cars do to our consumption in the home?
* How will the entry of low power lighting into the home (compact fluorescent, LED) affect usage?
* How will the explosion of digital technology in the home affect our level of use — and our demand for uninterruptible power?
* How will all this affect our HVAC needs?
* What about home power generation? Good article in Wired about home power generation. and look at this cool sharp system for managing your home power generation and grid connection

As a bleeding edge user, I am starting to see strains on the power (and HVAC) systems in my home:

* A sea of wallwarts generating DC power and heat in various places in the house.
* Significant heat disposal issues in my office and at media centers. I’ve had to do crazy special things to deal with these problems — a special air conditioner for the office, a venting system and fan for the media center. The existing HVAC system, designed for whole house human comfort, is not designed to deal with waste heat from appliances.
* Low end battery backups in a couple places in the home to insure continued operation of phones, pcs, etc.

No conclusions here today, just wondering. I’d love to talk to some home builders and understand what they view as state of the art hvac/power systems in the home.