Must Read: ‘From Homes to Cars, It’s Now Time to Electrify Everything’  

Every now and then I read an article that I am compelled to share, because it simply “nails it.”

Such was the article by Saul Griffith, published Oct. 19, 2021, on the Yale School of the Environment website, http://www.e360.yale.edu, and re-posted Nov 30, 2021, on GreenBuildingAdvisor.com.

Here’s a link to the full article: https://e360.yale.edu/features/from-homes-to-cars-its-now-time-to-electrify-everything.

The thesis of that article is summarized as follows: “The key to shifting away from fossil fuels is for consumers to begin replacing their home appliances, heating systems, and cars with electric versions powered by clean electricity. The challenges are daunting, but the politics will change when the economic benefits are widely felt.”

The diagram above right shows what can be electrified in a home. Rita and I are most of the way there. This fall I purchased an electric snow blower to complement our electric lawn mower, weed eater, leaf blower and automobiles. Earlier this year I purchased a heat pump water heater to complement our heat pump hybrid furnace. (Hybrid, because it still burns natural gas when the outdoor temperature dips below 30° F.)

All these electric devices are powered by the sun, thanks to our 10-kW solar PV system installed when we bought our home in 2012.  Because we still cook with gas and occasionally burn gas in our furnace and fireplace, our Xcel bill is still around $35-40 per month, but we’re doing our part to “electrify everything.”

You can do that, too.

The central thesis of Saul Griffith’s article is that we have little control over the supply side of energy, although there are encouraging signs of it becoming less dependent on fossil fuels.  But we have total control over the demand side of energy:

“We don’t have a lot of choice on the supply side, but we have all of the choice on the demand side. For the most part, we decide what we drive, how we heat our water, what heats our homes, what cooks our food, what dries our laundry, and even what cuts our grass. This constitutes our ‘personal infrastructure,’ and it is swapping out that infrastructure that will be a key driver of the global transition from fossil fuels to green energy.”

According to Griffith, who co-founded the non-profit Rewiring America, there are 280 million cars and trucks in America, 70 million fossil-fueled furnaces, 60 million fossil-fueled water heaters, 20 million gas dryers, and 50 million gas stoves, ovens and cooktops. Until now, the conversation has been about making each of those fossil-fueled appliances more efficient, earning “Energy Star” ratings.

But the real goal should be to replace them with electric appliances burning the increasingly green electricity which is being generated by our electric utilities.

A common refrain from people regarding electric cars is that they are not really zero emissions because of how the electricity is generated. I myself was originally reluctant to buy an EV because I didn’t want to “switch from burning gas to burning coal.”

However, that argument overlooks the relative efficiency of electric motors.  In a fossil-fueled car, only 20% of the energy in the fuel is propelling the car. The rest is waste energy, primarily creating heat which then requires more fuel to cool it. In an EV, 90% of the energy from the battery propels the car. There’s almost no waste energy.

An suitable analogy to the gas-powered car is an incandescent light bulb, in which light is a byproduct of heating the filament. It’s no surprise that the LED light bulb uses about 20% of the electricity of an incandescent light bulb for the same amount of light, because light is the primary product of the LED, not a by-product of waste energy.

Because of its relative efficiency, even if an EV is charged from electricity created entirely by coal, its carbon footprint is far below that of a fossil-fuelel vehicle. The same applies to today’s highly efficient heat pumps for both space heating (and cooling) and for water heating.

Griffith’s point is that more efficient fossil-fueled appliances won’t get us where we need to be to save the planet from catastrophic climate change. We need to get to zero emissions, which is only possible by going all-electric in our homes and vehicles as our electric utilities make their inevitable transition — whether incentivized by government or simply by the economies of renewable energy — to clean energy.

You, like me, will love the effects of this transition to all-electric living. Imagine a future where carbon dioxide is not a household poison; where motorcycles don’t disturb the peace and quiet of our streets and canyons; where semis slow down quietly because they are putting energy back into their batteries instead of using loud and polluting engine braking; where our neighbors aren’t disturbed by loud lawn mowers, snow blowers and leaf blowers; and where children no longer suffer health problems from their own school buses or playgrounds next to highways.

You, like me, will appreciate the ease of use and near-zero maintenance of electric devices. My snow blower, lawn mower, and leaf blower start by pushing a button or pulling a lever and never need a tune-up, refueling or oil change.

Griffith is not arguing that everyone should immediately swap out their fossil-fueled cars or appliances but rather avoid replacing them with newer ones. Cars, for example, can last for 20 years, and gas furnaces for 15 years. When they need replacing, make the smart choice and replace them with their electric counterparts. You’ll be glad you did five or ten years later when their resale value has evaporated due to public recognition that they became obsolete before you purchased them.

Here’s More About Our Planned ‘Net Zero Store’  

By the time you read this article, Golden Real Estate’s move from 17695 S. Golden Road to 1214 Washington Avenue will be well underway.

Last week I announced that we will be transforming our old office space (which Rita and I own personally) into the home of a new venture Ty Scrable and I are calling The Net Zero Store.  It will be a one-stop shop for “all things sustainable,” selling and/or brokering products and services designed to reduce your home’s carbon footprint.

Among the products we will be selling or promoting are the following:

Solar Photovoltaic and Solar Thermal Systems

Sun Tunnels

Heat Pump HVAC Systems

Heat Pump Water Heaters

High-Efficiency Windows

Various Kinds of Home Insulation

HRVs and CERVs for Home Ventilation and Air Quality

Induction Cooktops

Condensing Clothes Dryers

Sustainable Countertop Choices

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

 Among the services we will offer directly or through vendors are the following:

In-Home Consultations With a Sustainability Coach

Energy Audits

Blower Door Testing

Testing and Mitigation for Mold, Radon, Asbestos

Advice Regarding Electric Vehicles

ADUs and Tiny Homes

Webinars and In-Person Events on All Aspects of Sustainability

Reading/Video Lists for Further Study

Styrofoam Recycling

Unlike other stores, everyone you encounter at The Net Zero Store will be knowledgeable in all these areas. Ty and I are in the process of creating partnerships with vendors of these products and services. If you have a product or service you think should be featured in our store, please call Ty at 720-281-6783.

We are also recruiting volunteers to serve as sustainability coaches.

Saturday’s Electric Vehicle Roundup at Golden Real Estate Was a Big Success

Here’s a video Jim Smith took at 2:30 p.m. April3rd, when the parking lot at Golden Real Estate was already full. Among the cars you’ll see in this video are the Mustang Mach E, the Polestar 2 and the Jaguar I-Pace, along with the usual complement of Teslas (all 4 models), Chevy Bolts, Nissan Leafs and others. Enjoy!

Electric Vehicle Roundup Returns on April 3, Featuring Electric Mustang, Jaguar and Other Brands

You’ve probably heard of the Tesla Models S, 3, X and Y, but have you heard of the Polestar2, the Mustang Mach E, the Jaguar I-Pace, the Hyundai Kona, and the Fiat 500e? These are among the 20-plus EVs that will be in the Golden Real Estate parking lot this Saturday, April 3, from 2 to 5 pm, with the owners there to answer your questions and possibly give you a ride around the block.

It’s our annual Drive Electric Earth Day event, one of two EV roundups that we have been hosting annually since 2012 in our parking lot at 17695 S. Golden Road. The other event is Drive Electric Week, held on the first Saturday in October to coincide with the annual Metro Denver Green Homes Tour.  Both events coincide with the “Super Cruise” events held on South Golden Road the first Saturday of every month from April through October. We like to expose fans of classic cars who attend Super Cruise to electric vehicles.

By now it should be clear that an electric vehicle of some kind is in your future, so you might as well starting taking a look at what’s available. If the right vehicle isn’t being sold currently, it will probably be available within the next two years, so come and look, and find out what all the excitement is about.

Our parking lot still has a few spaces available, so if you own an EV, especially one that is not listed in the first paragraph, please register to bring it at www.DriveElectricWeek.info. You can also register there as a spectator, but it’s not required. If you do want to attend, with or without an EV, we ask that you wear a mask and allow us to apply sanitizer to your hands when you arrive.

With our parking lot reserved for EVs, other cars will need to park in the Taco Bell parking lot across the street.

We Must Face the Coming Crisis of Transportation Funding

By JIM SMITH

I’ve been driving electric cars, buying little or no gasoline, since 2012, happy to be a freeloader when it comes to the cost of building and maintaining our state and federal roads and bridges.

My first Tesla in 2014

But the adoption of electric cars is accelerating, as expected, to the point where we can’t continue to depend on gas and diesel taxes to pay for our transportation infrastructure.

Yes, I have paid a $50 registration fee each year for my EVs, but that doesn’t come close to paying my fair share of the costs, and it contributes nothing to the federal highway trust fund.

In Colorado, there is a 23-cent-per-gallon gas tax, plus an 18.4-cent federal gas tax.  Rita and I drove our three EVs a total of 16,380 miles in 2020.  If they had been fueled by gas and got 25 miles per gallon, we would have purchased 655 gallons, paying $271 in state and federal gas taxes.

Rita and Jim with their 2 Teslas

Raising the gas tax makes no sense as fewer and fewer vehicles will be consuming gas in coming years.

As much as I’d like to keep being a freeloader in this regard, I am willing to pay 1.5 cents per mile traveled on my combined state and federal tax returns instead of paying $50 in annual registration fees per vehicle.  This is referred to as a VMT (vehicle miles traveled) tax.

Critics of a VMT tax say people will lie about miles traveled, but our tax system is based on voluntary reporting, and mileage is easily audited now that cars, like Tesla, are connected to the internet.

2021 Will Be the ‘Year of the Electric Pickup’

The best selling vehicle in America for many years has been the Ford F-150 pick-up, so 2021 is bound to be a watershed year, given the number of electric pick-up trucks expected to hit the market — including, by the way, an electric F-150, which has been teased for at least a year.

Rivian is furthest along and will beat Tesla’s entry by several months. Rivian is simultaneously releasing an SUV and 4-door pickup, which appeal to the same demographic. The company is backed by Amazon, which has boosted Rivian’s financial situation by ordering 100,000 delivery vehicles to replace the blue Amazon vans we see every day in our neighborhoods. Some of them are already in service, but not in the Denver market. You may have seen an Amazon commercial featuring the new van.

Ford F-150 Electric

The F-150 Electric begins production this year. Tesla’s Cybertruck may be in production by year’s end but certainly in 2022.

Also coming this year (or soon) are GM’s Hummer EV, the Atlis XT, Bollinger’s B2, and more. Click here for ChargePoint’s article with specs and prices on these six trucks. Click here for InsideEVs.com’s list of all the electric trucks they are expecting in 2021 and 2022, including the above six trucks plus the Lordstown Endurance, the Chevrolet BET, Nikola Badger, Hercules Alpha, and Fisker Alaska. Nissan is reportedly considering hiring Hercules to create an electric Nissan Titan.

Tesla Cybertruck

Amazon van by Rivian – already in production and in service

GM’ Hummer EV

Atlas XT

Lordstown Endurance

Bollinger B2

Nikola Badger

Hercules Alpha

Fisker Alaska

Electric Cars Are Your Best Cold Weather Choice

It’s that time of year when I like to remind readers about the advantages of EVs in snow and cold weather. Here’s what you need to know.

1)  No warming up is needed. Just put the car in Drive and go! Also, the cabin will be warm within 1/2 mile because it doesn’t require an engine to warm up first. In my Tesla I can turn on the heat with my phone app a few minutes earlier so the cabin, steering wheel and seat are all warm when I get in the car. Also, when I park the car for brief periods (such as when shopping), I can leave the heater on so it’s warm when I return, .

2)  Your car will never break down, stranding you in a freezing car on the side of the road. The only time you see an EV on the side of the road is if there’s a flat tire or an accident. Stuck in a snow drift? The heater will keep you warm as long as you need, consuming only 3-5 miles of range per hour — and no carbon monoxide!

3)  Because of its low center of gravity and its typical 50/50 front/back weight distribution, an EV handles snow-covered roads really well. My all-wheel-drive Teslas handle much better than my AWD 2009 Lexus RX 400h did in snow, aided by its standard traction control and stability control.

https://www.carvana.com/vehicle/1529040Accident-free, 7-day return policy.

4)  Used EVs are your best buy. Older AWD Tesla Model S’s can be bought, undamaged and running like new, starting around $40,000. And older Tesla Models S and X come with transferrable lifetime free supercharging coast-to-coast when purchased privately instead of from Tesla.

5)  There are still federal and state tax credits and various rebates to be had. For a full list, visit www.electricforall.org/rebates-incentives.

Kandi claims $7,999 effective cost in California for 59-mile electric car

Here are the first 3 paragraphs of a story just published on greencarreports.com:

“Kandi America announced Tuesday that the lowest-priced of its two small, Chinese-made electric cars has been EPA certified and cleared for California roads, and the company is preparing to start deliveries in the state. 

“Considering both the federal EV tax credit and Kandi’s eligibility for the state’s $2,000 incentive, the Kandi K27 has an effective cost of just $7,999, the company reported. 

“In September, Kandi updated its website to include estimated EPA-cycle numbers, with an expected 59-mile range from the 17.7-kwh battery pack. Kandi lists a seven-hour charge time on 240V AC (Level 2). The K27 isn’t for everyone, though. While it appears to be certified as a full-fledged passenger car, it can only reach 63 mph.”

Note: The $7,999 price is computed after including a $2,000 California tax credit. The tax credit Colorado is $4,000, which would bring the effective price to only $5,999 in Colorado.

Read the full article at https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1130193_kandi-claims-7-999-cost-in-california-for-59-mile-electric-car. Here are a couple pictures from that web page:

If You Missed Last Saturday’s EV Roundup and Green Homes Tour…

You can view a short video report about last Saturday’s Electric Vehicle Roundup at Golden Real Estate on my YouTube channel. The shortcut for accessing my YouTube channel is www.JimSmithVideos.com.

And you can still tour the homes on the 26th annual Metro Denver Green Homes Tour by clicking on “Playlists” on the same YouTube channel.

Your Car Battery Could One Day Be Your Home Backup Power

Perhaps you, like me, have considered investing in a home battery system — not to go “off grid” so much as to survive blackouts. Simply having solar does not give you such protection, because when the grid goes down, your solar panels do not generate electricity. That’s required by power companies, because they don’t want you pumping electricity into downed power lines as their technicians work to repair them.

Personally, I’m holding out for a future in which the energy stored in my EV batteries can be tapped to power my home during a blackout.  There’s a term for this called vehicle-to-grid, but a more accurate term would be vehicle-to-home, since it would be done in isolation from the grid.

Because I have two EVs with combined battery capacity of 170 kilowatt-hours, I have a lot of stored power available to me at any time, even if those cars are not fully charged.  For example, 100 kilowatt-hours can provide 5,000 watts of household electricity for 20 hours.

There are commercially available inverters for creating a 120-volt outlet in any car, either gas or electric, but inevitably some automaker — probably Tesla — will create an interface that allows for the electricity stored in one’s EV battery to be tapped for household use during a blackout.

Several electric trucks are going to hit the market in 2020 and beyond, and each will have 120 and possibly 240-volt outlets for field power, which is a good start. You could run an extension cord to power critical home appliances.