Don’t Miss Our Oct. 1st Electric Vehicle Roundup!

Twice a year we hold an Electric Vehicle Roundup in the parking lot of our previous office at 17695 S. Golden Road in Golden, and each year we see more and more diverse makes and models of EVs.

The star of this year’s roundup is sure to be Ford’s F-150 Lightning, provided by Larry H. Miller Ford. They have delivered several of these pick-ups already and have one for test drives which they’ll bring to our event on Saturday, from 2pm to 6pm.

You can also expect to see one or two Rivian pickups, a few Mustang Mach Es, all four models from Tesla, plus EVs by Chevrolet, Kia, Hyundai, Polestar, Audi, BMW, Nissan and other manufacturers. The owners of these cars have, collectively, driven over 600,000 miles on electricity alone, so they can tell you from personal experience what it’s like to own and drive an electric vehicle.

Inside The Net Zero Store during the EV Roundup, representatives of Helio Home Inc. will be giving a presentation and answering questions about how to make your home all-electric and even net zero energy. They are the biggest vendor in this market for heat pumps systems to replace gas forced air furnaces and heat pump water heaters to replace gas water heaters. Don’t miss the chance to have your questions answered about this important topic.

Coming October 1st: Metro Denver Green Homes Tour & EV Roundup

If you’ve ever wanted to reduce the carbon footprint of your home, you won’t want to miss the October 1st tour of metro area homes which have done just that.

You’ll learn about new forms of insulation, improved window designs, replacing natural gas with heat pumps, and so much more. After touring the homes, don’t miss the expo of vendors from 5 to 7pm.

Think of it like a Parade of Homes, but where some of the homes were built sustainable but where most of them are older homes that have been made super-sustainable.

The 9am to 4pm tour starts with registration at the American Mountaineering Center in downtown Golden, 710 10th Street. For $10 per adult, you receive a guidebook and map for your self-guided tour. If you would like to ride in an electric car to the different homes, we have volunteers who will make that happen in their own Teslas or other EVs.

After touring the homes, come to the 3-5pm EV Roundup happening in the parking lot of The Net Zero Store, 17695 S. Golden Road, where Helio Home Inc. will be holding demos and answering questions about what you can do to make your own home more sustainable or even “net zero energy.”

You can register for the tour at NewEnergyColorado.com then pick up your guide book and map at Golden Real Estate, 1214 Washington Ave. on Friday, September 30th, 10 to 6. Register for the EV event at www.DriveElectricWeek.info.

Looked at Correctly, It Costs No More to Build (or Buy) a Sustainable Home

“Conventional wisdom” says that it costs more to build a solar powered, highly sustainable or net zero energy home, but that’s not really true if you look at the issue a little differently.

As you surely know, such improvements reduce the operating cost of a home. Solar panels, for example, can virtually eliminate your electrical bill, if your system is sized correctly. They can even provide free fuel for your cars — if they are powered by electricity.

Super insulating your home can reduce the cost of heating it, whether by natural gas or electricity (using a heat pump system). Ditto for installing triple-pane Alpen windows and doors.

If you go all-electric, you not only save on the natural gas or propane you consume, you can have your gas meter removed, saving on the base cost of being connected to the gas distribution network. As a commercial customer, Golden Real Estate, saves over $600 per year from having removed our gas meter, since that’s what Xcel Energy charges before a business uses a single cubic foot of natural gas.  The savings is lower for residential customers.

So, yes, it may cost more to go all-electric, but the return on investment is substantial over a pretty short period of time.

But consider the following. Whether you build or buy a home with these cost saving features, and whether or not you pay a premium for them, you will likely be financing your home with a mortgage.

Let’s say, conservatively, that you pay an extra $50,000 or even $100,000 for those features, and it adds that amount to the principal of your mortgage. Your monthly savings from those solar panels or that heat pump system or those Alpen windows and extra insulation will be far in excess of the increased monthly payment for your mortgage.

And if you make those improvements in a home you already own, you can take out a Home Equity Line of Credit (or HELOC) to pay for them, and the monthly payments will again be less than your monthly savings.

Looked at it this way, does it make any sense at all to build a home powered by fossil fuels, that is not solar powered or that has “normal” insulation and have higher monthly cost of ownership, starting from day one?  Of course not.

You can apply the same reasoning to the purchase of an electric car. You could go with the conventional wisdom that electric cars are more expensive and you should wait until the price comes down, but that thinking substantially misrepresents the cost of ownership.

I haven’t purchased gasoline for my electric cars since 2014, during which time I have saved tens of thousands of dollars on gasoline as well as on repairs on components that don’t exist on an EV, such as transmission, engine, fuel pumps, water pumps, timing belts and so much more.

And I have never had a catalytic converter stolen — or lost any sleep after reading about the epidemic of such thefts in my city.

Forgetting for the moment that there are indeed EVs which cost no more than their gasoline-powered equivalents, even if you paid $10,000 more for an EV than you might for a gas powered car, the cost of financing that difference is far less than what you’ll save on fuel and repairs.

If I have changed your thinking about making your home (or transportation) more sustainable, here’s what you can do.  First, attend this year’s Metro Denver Green Homes Tour on October 1st. You’ll be able to visit a dozen or so homes whose owners have taken steps to make their homes more energy efficient or even net zero energy. You’ll also visit a home builder who is building net zero energy homes. If you can’t visit some of these homes in person, you can view the narrated video tours which I have created for most of them.

(You can also — right now — take video tours of 16 homes that were on this tour in previous years!)

You can register for the tour — and see those videos — at www. NewEnergyColorado.com.

And if I have changed your thinking about the cost of buying or owning an electric vehicle, plan on coming to the Electric Vehicle Roundup (mentioned below) which occurs the same day, October 1st, as the Metro Denver Green Homes Tour.  If that date doesn’t work for you, there are many other EV roundups in October around Colorado. Find those other events online at www.DriveElectricWeek.org.

Bring Your Electric Vehicle to the Oct. 1st EV Roundup

Each year on the first Saturday of October Golden Real Estate hosts an Electric Vehicle Roundup in the parking lot of The Net Zero Store (our former real estate office), at 17695 S. Golden Road. And every year 30 or more different EVs are displayed by their owners who are there to answer questions for prospective EV owners.

If you have an EV — especially one of the new ones, such as the F-150 Lightning, Volvo XC40 or Rivian pickup — we want you to show it off at this event! Register at www.DriveElectricWeek.info either as an owner or attendee.

At press time 13 owners who have driven a half-million miles on electricity alone have registered for this event.

The event is part of the annual Metro Denver Green Homes Tour on Oct. 1st.

Here’s More Info on Incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act

John Horst of the National Renewable Energy Lab read last week’s blog post about the Inflation Reduction Act’s impact on the building sector and provided some valuable additional information.

For starters, he made me aware of the White House website, which has a listing of tax credits and grants under the IRA which pertain specifically to each state. Click here to view the IRA tax credits and grants that apply to Colorado. It’s a two-page PDF with paragraphs about those financial incentives plus job creation, manufacturing, cleaner air, rural opportunities and “resilient communities.”

One new incentive that hasn’t gotten a lot of coverage is the $4,000 upfront discount on the purchase of used electric cars and trucks. In the past, there was no incentive for purchasing a used EV, and the $7,500 incentive for a new EV came only as a tax credit on the following year’s tax return.

Making both incentives an “upfront discount” will make both incentives much more attractive and useful to car buyers and will accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.

John also provided a link to a list of 59 state and federal tax credits (both personal and corporate), loan programs, grant programs, rebate programs, sales tax incentives, regulatory policies, energy standards and more — each with its own link for further information. (The above link gives the information for Zip Code 80401, but you can select a different ZIP Code anywhere in the country on that website.)

Some Reasons We’ll Never Have Self-Driving Cars

When will Elon Musk and others stop talking about “full self-driving,” meaning no driver attention required? I write from the perspective of having used Tesla’s Autopilot features myself for several years. Full self-driving will never happen because the public won’t accept the following:

Speed bumps, potholes, critters you don’t want to hit, or simply rough pavement will never be recognized and avoided. (The car stays centered between the painted lines.)

Full self-driving, like Autopilot, utilizes GPS data about speed limits, which is often out-of-date and doesn’t reflect temporary reductions such as construction and school zones. (On I-70’s central project and on McIntyre Street there are still places where my Tesla wants to slow down to 35 mph in places based on old data.)

On city streets where no painted lines separate the moving lane from parked cars, Autopilot often brakes for a parked car, mistaking it for a stopped car in the moving lane.

Among other issues, a self-driving car will never cross the yellow line on a narrow lane to safely pass a bicycle.

Big Gathering of Classic Cars Converted to EVs This Saturday, Aug. 13, at Red Rocks

Long before there were production EVs like the Nissan Leaf or the Tesla Model S, automotive hobbyists all over the country were playing around with converting gas-powered cars and trucks to electric vehicles, initially with lead acid batteries but more recently with lithium ion batteries obtained from a wrecked EV or from a battery manufacturer.

This Saturday, August 13th, several of those converted classics will be on display at La Vida Volta! — an EV expo sponsored in part by Xcel Energy and CDOT. The free, family-friendly event runs from 10 to 3 in the lower North lot at Red Rocks.

The day before there will be a first-of-its-kind “Educational Conference for Performance EV Conversions” at the nearby Origin Hotel Red Rocks. That event is sold out, but you’re welcome to attend the car show on Saturday.

The conference and the Saturday car show are produced by a venture with the clever name of Ohm on the Range. (If you’re not familiar with the word ohm, which rhymes with home, it is a measure of electrical resistance.)

Speakers at that conference include men and women who have converted the following cars from gas-powered drive trains to electric drive trains: a 1999 Jeep Wrangler, a 1980 Subaru Brat, a 1982 Scrambler, a 1965 Mustang, a 1972 Plymouth Satellite, and a 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser. Those and many other EV conversions will be on display at Saturday’s event.

Converting a gas-powered car to an EV is often done by taking the drive train from a wrecked Tesla, Nissan Leaf or other EV. Alternatively, DIY hobbyists can purchase new electric components from aftermarket companies with names like Electric GT, reVolt Systems and Netgain Motors. Saturday’s expo will also feature some of the newest OEM offerings from Lucid, Rivian, Polestar, Ford, Kia, Nissan and Chevrolet.

We’ve had one or two EV conversions show up for the EV Roundups which we sponsor each April and October. This event dedicated solely to conversions should be fun!

Realtor Magazine Promotes Electric Vehicles in a 4-Page Article  

The summer 2022 edition of Realtor Magazine focuses on sustainability, and one of its articles is titled “Learning to Love EVs.” Click here to read the article online.

The article encourages NAR’s one million members to make their next car electric, but omits one selling point I take advantage of every April — I deduct over $10,000 for business mileage even though the cost of charging is near zero thanks to an abundance of free charging stations. Even if pay for the electricity — whether at home or at Tesla Supercharger or a DC Fast Charging station — the cost of the electricity is so much lower per mile than the cost of a gas-powered car, that the standard IRS deduction per business mile traveled becomes a nice source of tax-free income for Realtors or any other person who uses their personal car for business.

Realtor Magazine: Builders Need to Respond to the Home Electrification Trend  

It isn’t in the print edition of Realtor Magazine, but a June 8 article on its website is titled, “The Future Is Now: Home Electrification.”

Regular readers of this column know that home electrification has been “now” for many years here at Golden Real Estate. At the Net Zero Store in our former building at 17695 S. Golden Road, Helio Home Inc. is busier than ever responding to people who want to replace their gas forced air furnaces with heat pump units and their gas water heaters with heat pump water heaters. (You can reach the Helio Home sales team at 720-460-1260.)

The primary focus of the Realtor Magazine article is on the need for home builders to include a larger electrical service as fossil fuels are phased out. Number one, it said, was to accommodate an electric car, since the major car manufacturers are committed to going all-electric or mostly so by 2030.

The article promotes the idea of installing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to generate electricity for your home and car. With such a system, the author of the article correctly points out that the electrical grid can function as your home battery (thanks to net metering), but seems not to understand how it really works. He states that the utility will buy your excess solar generation but you might have to buy electricity for your car on a cloudy day. In fact, net metering allows you to send surplus electricity to the grid when you don’t need it, but you get it back at full value when needed. Everyone with a solar PV system should take advantage of the “roll-over” option allowing you to be credited for that surplus production long-term rather than get a check each January for the previous year’s over-production.

When the utility pays you for your surplus production, it does so at its cost of generating electricity — a couple cents per kilowatt-hour. But if you use your surplus electricity, you save the full retail rate (over 10¢ per kilowatt-hour) versus purchasing those kilowatt-hours from the utility.

Not understanding that process, the author promotes the idea of a home battery system, but, as I wrote before, that only needs to be considered if you have medical equipment which must run during a blackout.

The author promotes the installation of a 240V car charging station, suggesting that this could require a larger electrical panel in older homes. I disagree. The Level 2 charging station only draws the same electricity as your electric clothes dryer. If your panel can’t accommodate a dedicated circuit for the car, you could use the same one as the clothes dryer and not use both appliances at the same time. (I recognize that this is not what the code dictates, but it’s still safe if you have a 40-amp breaker on that circuit, because if you do run the dryer and the car charger at the same time, it would trip the breaker.)

Also, every EV comes with a 120V cord to plug your car into a standard household outlet. Although that only gets you 4 miles of range per hour, that’s still over 50 miles of range overnight, which may suffice, especially if you have other charging options during the day. Downtown Golden, for example, has ten free Level 2 charging stations in its garages and elsewhere.

Of course, there’s more to home electrification than car charging. The article points out that there are now electric outdoor tools—lawn mowers, leaf blowers, snow blowers, chain saws and more—that you can buy online or at Lowes. Ego Power is the biggest brand in this field, and their various tools all use the same interchangeable batteries.

Not mentioned in the article are the biggest consumers of fossil fuels—your gas furnace and water heater. As I said, you can speak to Helio Home about converting gas units to electric heat pump units.

For cooking, I have written in the past about induction electric ranges, and I’m really fond of our electric grill shown here. Lift it off its stand and you can use the grill on your countertop. You can’t do that with a gas grill! And it plugs into a standard 120V patio outlet. We bought ours at Home Depot for $100. Food grilled on it tastes just as good as when cooked on a gas grill.

Can the electrical grid handle the increased use of electricity over fossil fuels, given, for example, that by 2030 over 50% of car sales in America will be all-electric? You may have read warnings that widespread adoption of EVs will overwhelm our electrical transmission systems, but I disagree. Solar panels are being installed just as quickly and perhaps more so, and that electricity is consumed within your neighborhood if not by yourself, reducing the needed distribution from the utility. And, as I said, even with Level 2 charging, an EV only draws the same amount of electricity as a clothes dryer.

Home builders can and should adapt to this trend, and are in fact required to do so in some jurisdictions. Every new home should be solar-ready if not solar-powered, by building chases into the home which could accommodate the electrical lines serving roof-mounted solar panels. Also, garages should be wired with a 240V outlet on their front walls in addition to the usual 120V outlets on three walls.

I was encouraged to see that a new 300-unit apartment complex about to break ground in Lakewood between Colfax and 15th Place and between Owens and Pierson Streets is, according to the plans I saw, going to have over 40 EV parking spaces in its garage.

One of the more interesting flaws in the Realtor Magazine article was the suggestion that home garages should be insulated or even heated to avoid shortening the life of an electric vehicle’s battery. This is a misinterpretation of the fact that EVs lose range in the winter. It’s not that the battery loses power in cold weather, but rather that heating the car’s cabin uses battery power which thereby reduces the car’s range, as does the heating of the battery itself to its optimum operating temperature.

(Updated) How Does a 3-Day Test-Drive of a Tesla Sound?  

As a Tesla enthusiast and long-time owner — I have owned Teslas since March 2014 — I have always wished I could let friends borrow my Tesla long enough for them to fall in love with it, but the usual considerations of insurance, etc., have stood in the way.

Now, it’s possible for anyone to rent one of multiple Teslas, including my red Model S shown above, on Turo, a car-sharing app that takes care of the insurance and other concerns in return for a 25% cut of the rental fees. On their app/website, you’ll find every make and model of car, from Honda Civics to Teslas at rates ranging from under $100/day to over $400/day. My car is listed at $117/day and has unlimited free Supercharging.

Here’s a direct link to my Model S: https://turo.com/us/en/car-rental/united-states/denver-co/tesla/model-s/1520008

If you want to rent it, click on the date field and it opens a calendar with lines through the dates that are already taken. Then you can click on a start and end date for your rental.