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Electricity. . .


Hadn't a chance yet to search Cyburbia... but from a thread I spotted elsewhere....

> I helped my brother-in-law install a kiln for my sister.
> If you don't know, a kiln is used for firing ceramics; gets
> up to 2500 degrees or so for about 12 hours (cost about $14
> of electricity each run, I believe). We ran a new 60 Amp
> circuit I believe, and we used a lot heavier wiring than
> 14 gauge. I don't remembed exactly what gauge it was, but
> we had a hard time getting it through 3/4 or 1 inch conduit,
> but that was for a bundle of 4 wires.

No wonder my art teacher never turned on the school's kiln all through the 1980s, when things were in recession here in Ireland.... now the kids have 'everything' though... too much even. I noticed in that school building too, how all of the things which were 'heavy on power' were organised along a single backbone of the entire school.... this includes the wood working, metal working and all the crafts workshops, the science laboratories and the home economics, as it was called.... i.e. sewing and cooking.... I am trying to think what else was there... yeah, the computer labortory and the room with all the dark out, raked seating, large projection capabilities... yeah when I do think about it now, this was extremely practical indeed.

The school also got a choice, of having either an indoor heating swimming pool or a gym, so they chose a gym... this school was built back in the early 70s, for the kids of the two nearby Electricty supply stations to go to... so power was possibly at a discount too! :) Yeah, every would be architectural conessior.... down my way hates it as a building,.... as a design... this school that is. But I am thinking to myself, before technology ever got off the ground in Ireland,.... that this schools design was forward thinking at least in this sense... and even quite ambitious.

The poster went on to make this interesting comment also:

Actually the wiring in the house I live in is excelent compared
to the wiring in the house I grew up in. It was built in the
late 1800s, so it originally didn't have electricity or a bathroom
for that matter. The wiring was added later (but not much later;
some of it was on bare wires strung between ceramic insulators)
just to run lights. We were running a whole set of electrical
appliances (quick recovery electric water heater, freezer,
refrigerator, well, electric stove, microwave, washer/dryer,
etc). Of course, new wiring had been added for most of that, but
we where using way to much power for the little fuse box that
was installed. We blew fuses (no breakers) on a regular basis,
since you had to be carefull what was turned on at the same time.
With how much power a modern american household uses, the little
rubber things on the fuse cartriges actually melted. That house
was overdue for demolition.

Some interesting posts... http://www.aceshardware.com/forum?read=115075313

Sort of part of a running discussion over there about power consumption, the environment and such.... which sort of 'creeps into' our chatting, every so often... totally OT, but interesting nonetheless... to me at least. :) As I do a lot of highly serviced buildings, site investigations, solutions and planning these days.

I have often thought that a move towards passive solar design in buildings as a general practice would save all kinds of electricity without lowering quality of life. We must not be desperate enough yet. Or perhaps we are not that smart yet. :-D

Whenever I play Simcity, as soon as newer, cleaner technologies for producing electricity become available, I build new and destroy the old. It pays off in a big way. The environment stays cleaner and electrical costs stay low. I also have fixed budgetary problems by going and checking on all my electrical plants and replacing the older ones with newer ones. As the plants age, they cost more per kilowatt to produce energy. I kind of stumbled on some of these principles in Simcity 2000, which didn't have the ability to borrow money or make business deals. I was desperate for cash and in real trouble. Raising taxes tends to drive population out, thereby lowering your tax base and also lowering property values due to widespread abandonment. So it tends to lower your income. I discovered that killing off "extra" water pumping stations fixed my budgetary shortfall and gave me breathing room. In that particular game where I had my "Eureka!" moment, I was also suffering intermittent black outs due to bumping the ceiling on electrical power. Killing the excess water pumps freed up enough electricity to allow my population to grow.

About 2 or 3 years later, over the long thanksgiving weekend (a 4 day weekend for my family because my husband is military), I was coming off of medication and I was awake for something like 29 hours straight. I decided to play Simcity 3000 rather than cut up in some online forum and get lynched as part of the entertainment. In Simcity 3000, you can save a city at a certain point, rename it and make multiple copies and play it over and over from a critical turning point to see what the best way is to handle a certain situation. I did that and I think I ultimately ended up with a city of 400,000 -- or something ridiculous like that. One of the larger cities I ever made. Anyway, I came to a critical turning point and .... ultimately found that there was a direct correlation between growing my supply of water and electricity and growth of business. And, where the jobs are, the Sims will follow. I had been trying to manipulate all kinds of factors -- like supply of adequate port facilities and taxes -- to grow industry and commercial. After enormous study, I found that the crucial key was growing my supply of water and electricity. If I had double the needed capacity for those items, business grew rapidly. If I added a little more than I needed, business grew a little.

In real life, I remember reading an article about a town where the electrical plant did a study and concluded that if they had to add capacity to produce more electricity, it would be a financial loss for them. They decided to begin an agressive campaign to encourage conservation of energy. They hired someone full-time whose sole job was to promote conservation. They offered free home inspections to tell homeowners how to lower their electric bill. Other electric companies, who thought "growth was good", thought this company had lost its mind. Not only did the bottom line of the company improve, but the town began to prosper. People were spending less on electricity without lowering their quality of life and it freed up money to paint the house, to save, to do...whatever. It was like getting a "pay raise" for the entire town without doing any extra work.

In my life, I discovered much the same thing. We lived in a trailer in Kansas the first few months we were there. It was about 800 square feet or less, I think. Because it was so poorly insulated, the electric bill was really high. We lived their 7 months and then bought a house -- 1284 square feet, about 1 1/2 times as large. Our electric bill hardly changed. The heating and air conditioning system was original to the house and the house was 17 years old. We were there one year and 2 weeks and the air conditioner died. In July or August. And hubby was in Saudi Arabia. lol. I was a young mom with small kids and didn't know what in heck to do.

So, I waited for my husband to come home (about 2 weeks later) and we began to research what we could do. We dealt with it a few weeks later, before it began to get too cold. The heat still worked. Only the air conditioner had died. But I was concerned that the heating system would also die. We took 3 bids for a heat pump, which was supposed to be more energy efficient. And we got a $300 rebate on it from the electrical company, which was trying to encourage people to get heat pumps instead of heaters. The first bid was for $4000. We found one for $3000, and then got $300 off with the rebate. So our cost was $2700. And the electric company financed it, adding the payment of the loan to our electric bill. Our electric bill dropped enough to cover about 2/3 of the monthly loan payment. I think the loan payment was $45 but our electric bill dropped $30, so it only cost us an extra $15/month.

And we were a lot warmer. It was a 3 bedroom house but, the first year we were there, are small sons (ages 2 and 5 when we bought the house) shared a bedroom – in part because there was no way I was going to put my 2 year old alone in a room down the hall. But he was turning 4 about the time we got the heat pump. The first winter, we had shut the vent to the smallest of the 3 bedroom and used it for storage. The old heater was so pathetic that we couldn’t keep the whole house warm. After we got the heat pump, we made that room our youngest son’s bedroom. So we were actually heating more space and still had a drop in our overall electric bill.

In short, poverty is very expensive. Living in a trailer did not save us money. It was a very expensive way to try to “live cheaply”, in part because I was very sick from living there and the kitchen was so pathetic that I found it hard to cook. We ate out a lot – and felt that we could “afford” to do so because our rent was so cheap. After we moved, we managed the higher house payment in part by cooking a lot. Keeping a really old HVAC system was also not cheap. Our electric bill was quite high and the quality of life it bought us was not that high.