Archive for December, 2007

Heating a building with heat from a road

The December 6 Technology Quarterly from The
Economist
magazine profiles
a Dutch office building which is both heated and cooled using heat (or cold) from the asphalt of the road outside the building
, as opposed to the more conventional use of solar thermal panels on the building’s roof.  The article optimistically ends,

The result is cheap heating in winter and cheap cooling in summer. And there is a bonus. Summer heating softens asphalt, making it easier for heavy traffic to damage the road surface. Dr de Bondt’s system not only saves electricity, but also saves the road. Expect to see more examples of it, in other countries, soon.

While this is a very elegant solution, the author fails to grasp that,
because the road is essentially an unglazed thermalOoms collector, and only gets
warm in the summer or cool in the winter, requiring that seasonal heat be stored.   Summer heat from the asphalt is used to heat the building in winter, while the chill of the inter road cools the building in summer. 

In this particular case, seasonal storage is accomplished with heat exchangers placed in not one, but two separate natural aquifers near the building.  The fortunate proximity of two such aquifers is extremely rare.  While this is a very elegant way to heat and cool a building, the lack natural aquifers in which to store seasonal heat will likely prevent widespread adoption of this
technology, no matter what the author believes.

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How to look for an Energy Efficient Rental (or resale home)

Does it seem totally unfair to you that the young, who are typically much more environmentally aware, are often stuck living in cold, drafty, unhealthy, and expensive to operate rentals, while it’s the old and the wealthy splash out on gigantic mansions with multiple low efficiency furnaces and air conditioners?

It does to me. Well, if you’re one of those green renters, you can do something about it. I’ve put together a checklist to use that can help you sift out the efficient buildings from all the cold, drafty ones.

Since it’s not really about stocks, I sent it over to Jetson Green as a guest post. But if it’s stocks that might benefit from the trend in energy efficient homes you’re looking for, I list several in the intro I wrote for it at Alternative Energy Stocks.

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