No Payback Period When clients ask me what the payback period is for an energy saving feature in their house design I tell them that there is no payback period. Pay back what? The cost of an improvement or an upgrade? If you want granite countertops instead of laminated countertops, what is the payback period for the granite countertops? If you and I buy identical new cars at the same dealership on the same day and I pay $5,000 less than you pay--.and you drive your car home but I have to get mine towed home because my car has no engine--what is the payback period on your engine? Energy saving features of a house are not extras. They are the new baseline standard. They cost what they cost. They don't have to be looked at as an investment. If you want a PV array and you have the money, go ahead and buy it. If your house costs more than your neighbor's house because yours has a PV array, then that's it. You don't have to show that your house costs no more than the substandard code-built house next door.
Posted: 07:16 pm on February 28th 2012
response to Deniz Bilge Deniz, thanks for your comment. I agree with you that a PV array is not necessariy an energy saver. I was just using it as an example of an expense you might have in building, say, a net zero energy house. But the PV array is not what I'm writing about. I'm asserting that there is no payback period because there is no extra feature to pay extra for. The feature is a basic piece of the net zero energy design, like the engine of a car. The engine is not an extra, you don't pay extra for it, and you don't expect to get paid back the money it costs.
Posted: 08:36 pm on February 29th 2012
Tulikivi Twenty-one years ago I designed and built our superinsulated house around a Tulikivi soapstone masonry heater. We chose the next-to-smallest model for our single-story 1,900 square foot house. We have an open floorplan and an ERV that supplies air to some rooms and exhausts air from the other rooms, distributing the Tulikivi's heat without an AHU. Before breakfast I start a fire so we can see and hear the fire going while we eat. After breakfast I close up the Tulikivi and the flue. The soapstone gives off heat all day while we are at work...with no fire going in our absence. To build a fire I wad up a few newspaper pages and line the grate of the firebox with them. I lay the kindling on top of the newspapers. I do not lay the firewood on top of the kindling because the kindling IS the firewood, eleven inches long by 2-in. thick. I light a match, touch it to a wad of newsprint, and wait ten seconds. Then I close the glass doors and hear the "whoomp" as the fire takes off like a jet. The Tulikivi draws like no other stove or fireplace I've used. When I come home I put my hand on the soapstone. This tells me whether or not I need to build a fire in the evening or wait until morning. If I'm cold coming in from outdoors I'll hug the stove for a few minutes. Try that with your metal stove...or your heat pump.
Posted: 01:43 pm on November 26th 2012