When I was a kid, power outages weren’t uncommon. Heavy snow or a summer thunderstorm could easily cause trees to come crashing down on power lines. And when that happened, everything went not just dark, but quiet. We’d find our flashlights and light our candles and enjoy the tranquility the lack of electricity created. I was always pleasantly surprised to rediscover how quiet the world was when we turned everything off.
In more recent years, power outages still happened in Arlington with alarming frequency. And when they did, it wasn’t peace and tranquility I noticed, but the roar of the many neighborhood generators. Diesel engines destroyed whatever peace there could have been. And I understood — you don’t want food to go bad in the refrigerator or freezer and summer heat can become unbearable or even deadly without air conditioning. Nevertheless, I missed the quiet stillness a power outage enabled.
So when we moved out to the country, I had mixed feelings about the whole-house generator that was already in place. It turns out, the generator — like so much with this place — is more complicated than it first appears.
Continue reading “Power Hungry”
One of the few improvements we made to our house after moving in was to replace the roof and to install a solar array. I love the environmental aspect of solar, as well as the prospect of cheaper electricity, but perhaps the coolest aspect of the solar system is the ability to monitor its energy production through an app or website. And, as I later learned, it could also tell me how much energy I was consuming. Unfortunately, getting that information proved tricker than I thought.
Continue reading “The Power of the Electric Meter”
One of my favorite shows when I was kid was Beyond 2000, which I loved for a variety of reasons: the geekiness, the environmental hopefulness, the futuristic optimism, and let’s not forget the Australian accents. I think it always left with me an idealistic vision of how technology could not only be used to improve lives, but also solve real problems.
I don’t know if the show holds up, and if I’m being honest, I can’t say I remember too many specifics from the show — it’s been decades since I’ve seen it. I do recall one episode featuring an indoor ski slope in a Japanese mall — ok, hardly solving real world problems — but I know others definitely dealt with renewable energy and things of that sort. Ever since, I’ve wanted to try to bring some of that Beyond 2000 future into my actual life.
And that is how I ended up with 11 smart thermostats in a house for two people. 🤪
Continue reading “Invasion of the Smart Thermostats”