Sunday, February 6, 2011

True Up - True Dat!

This year was a relatively poor year for solar PV.
We were overcast for nearly the entire summer along the coast in So-Cal. Not that I am complaining.

In January we received our annual true-up from SDG&E. This is the bill for the entire year for our electricity usage for the home and car. In summer we generate far more than we use, in winter it is the reverse, so the true up is what’s left at the end of the year.

This past year to power our home and our Mini-E 16,000 miles, our bill was $410. In addition to that we have a $260 gas bill for our natural gas usage. Again it was not the best year for solar. Last year our bill was $185 for the year.

Our home is a net zero energy home. How can that be if we have a bill for $670 this year for gas and electric? Because the home also supplies the electricity to drive a car 16,000 miles. This offsets what would be a fuel purchase of 640 gallons of gas at a real world 25 miles per gallon. At the current rate of $3.49 a gallon this is an offset or savings of $2,233.

If we did not have the Mini-E, thus not using 4500kwhs from the home to power the car, our utility bill including gas and electric would be below zero for the year.

A similar 4500 foot house/guesthouse (I will not apologize for living in an estate home) with a temp controlled 450 sq. ft. cellar and similar amenities to our home would have a monthly gas and electric bill of $500 or $6000 a year, and a 25mpg car using $2,233 of gasoline for a combined home utility and car gas bill or $8,233 a year.

$8000 a year or $400 a year, it’s your choice America.

We are in year three of our solar pv world and year two of our electric car world. At the above savings, after 5 years total (we're more than half way) our total cost for home energy efficiencies (8k) and solar pv (30k) will be paid off in full simply by using the same money we are not paying the utility company and Opec.
After another 2.5 years, it’s free energy for the home and our electric car for the rest of our life.

True Dat!



  1. Hi Peder,

    I think solar and EV vehicles are a great solution to the problems of air pollution, foreign oil dependence, greenhouse gases. For someone who requires an automobile, I think we should be encouraging EVs powered by renewable energy.

    But, I'm curious about your comment "I will not apologize for living in an estate home." I have to ask if that is a primary reason that we have the problem of people requiring automobiles.

    The sprawl necessitated by each American family wanting their own estate home is the reason automobiles are essential for so many Americans. The sprawl is the reason the government spends billions to build and maintain roads, not to mention the amount of land set aside for automobiles.

    If homes were built with more mixed-used zoning, and each neighborhood had density to support all the services (grocery, hardware, schools, parks, library). And if transportation dollars were spent designing efficient mass-transit to such neighborhoods (instead of on 16-lane highways), then many Americans may not need to drive 16,000 miles per year in their cars. In L.A. and San Diego, prior to widespread automobile ownership, there were networks of street cars that moved people between neighborhoods without the need for an automobile.

    Although an EV may be the best choice when someone needs a car, I think we should really be searching for ways to build neighborhoods such that people do not require an automobile.


  2. Hi Travis thanks for the comment.

    I agree with you. In California our population has tripled since the interstate transportation system put in place in the 60’s.

    This begat a development pattern of sprawl growth ever expanding the perimeter of the cities based on the auto commute. We separated housing and placed it over here. 10 miles away was a job center, 10 miles away was a shopping center. It was impossible to do anything but drive a car between the three not to mention schools and parks. We eliminnated any ublic transit that existed.

    Land use and planning needs to focus on a pattern of development where all are mixed and within an easy walk or bike ride. Where you can live, and work, and shop, and play, all within a close proximity with transit linking these areas together. I’m happy to say those are the projects that we are seeing now.

    I do believe we are very diverse as a population and that personal transportation via the auto will play a role (although significantly less than the 97% role it now plays) thus the not apologizing for the home size comment.

    We built in the older part of town with a low speed grid connected street system close to transit. We built on an existing lot using 70% of the existing home. We built a large home for a large family that entertains large groups on a large lot.

    We need to provide housing of all from young to old and from small to large, from 700 sq. ft. lofts all the way up to the estate homes. What we don’t need to do is large homes on small lots or only 30000 sq ft false McMansions.
    Thanks for weighing in and contributing!


  3. Peder, you said "...monthly gas and electric bill of $500 or $6000 a year". Do you mean 5 or 6 hundred, or thousand?

  4. Hi Jim,

    It's an estimate but a similar size home with similar amentities would have a monthly energy bill on average of $500 a month which is $6000 a year.

    This is based on conversations with neighbors and friends. Admitidly this is high. A typical 2500 sg ft suburban home would average around $250 a month for gas and electric.

    A good ball park is $100 per month per 1000 sq. ft.


  5. Here is another Mini-E Pioneer and a similar story using sunpower and sunpower panels. The video is very nicely done.

    Solar PV, a home and an Electric vehicle powered by your own powerplant is a combination that is unbeatable.


  6. Hi Peder,

    Beautiful home that you have!! I like the style, siting, and eco-concious building and living you have chosen. Your Mini-E is right at home there.

    I'm curious what transit you find available and useful in your area. As a fellow San Diego County resident, I am only aware of NCTD Coaster train and Breeze buses. Typically, people find bus routes not convenient to cover large suburban distances (to many stops and traffic).

    I would love to see SANDAG abandon I-5 lane expansion in favor of a San Diego Trolley expansion north of UTC that runs east of I-5 where a majority of North County homes lie (perhaps down El Camino Real corridor). The idea would be to connect business centers (UTC, Sorrento Mesa, Carmel Valley) with homes. The Coaster is nice, but it runs rather infrequently, and is located just far enough from most homes and offices that it requires driving to the stations.