A diet we can all agree to!

Courtesy: USA Today

How can you argue with a diet that includes bacon and chocolate?  A village in Italy apparently provides proof that these ingredients, when included in a diet high in other beneficial fats like olive oil can add 10 years to your life.

Learn more about the diet here.

I knew chocolate was good for your mood, and bacon simply makes most people happy.  So, this seems like an especially good time to change, don’t you think?



EVs and DR

Image: Nissan

We have finally seen evidence that some are going to take the obvious next step with electric vehicles (EVs) and use them for automated demand response (ADR).

This is certain to make many in California deliriously happy given the high penetration of EVs there and the shifting needs for DR now that solar panels are making the late afternoon peak a thing of the past.  Evidently, the reality of this is now clear in England: Read this from Fast Company. 

Offering customers free charging may work there since gasoline is so expensive.  Here, I suspect our regulatory process will try to offer customers cash for this behavior.  But, as with almost all points in DR, the value of the benefit and the true costs and are sometimes hard to know.

For example, in my case, I can now charge my Tesla at work for free.  Or, if the utility drained my car overnight, I can simply stop for lunch at the supercharging station and “fill ‘er up!”  So, am I entitled to the same benefits as someone with Leaf who stays plugged into the house?

This is going to be fun to watch!


What is in a name?

Source: jessstryker.com / Money Talks News

Susan and I wanted to take our son Stephen to see Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.  It was a bit off the beaten path and on the way to it we passed a cemetery in the town of Little Hope.  The sign just made me laugh since it was obviously truthful but the name itself contradicted what was expected from the loved ones buried there and the ones left behind.

That reminded me of a simple fact.  It does matter what you call something.  Life insurance is something almost all of us have.  We are comfortable with the concepts.  But, the name is an outright lie: it is NOT life insurance … it is insurance about your death!  And, that is what it was originally called … but they found that no one wanted to buy it because it had such a negative connotation.

I think we are struggling with another series of labels and concepts today: smart grid, smart homes, wired homes, etc.  Perhaps we are once again on the wrong side of the customer engagement formula.  Maybe we should seek names that indicate what the customer gets with this technology: affordable control, comfort, and convenience.

We are getting closer with service offerings like “ComfortGuard” available through your local HVAC dealers.  They got the name right, but then blew it when it comes to the product offering.  The expensive system offers virtually nothing that makes sense to consumers.  You would expect it to focus on comfort … but it does not.

We at Apogee have been testing many of the supposedly smart home power monitors, like Sense.  The name is better than most, but once again, virtually nothing “under the hood” that would cause the homeowner to care about what it said over time.

These ideas are simply headed to the kitchen drawer … today’s cemetery for home technology … with little hope.

The formula for success is clear and we are hopefully going to show the world how it is done next Spring.  Stay tuned!


Where are the Source Energy Standards when you need them?

Courtesy Hygen

I am amazed at the religious zeal for certain energy concepts that seems all too eager to look past the incentives necessary to make things acceptably economic to you and me.

When I started my career in energy more than 40 years ago, fuel cells were declared to be “about 5 years off.”  Now, it seems they are just a bit closer.  But, the key to fuel cells has always been the same: a source of hydrogen.  If you start with natural gas, you have the obvious problem of where did the carbon go.

Now, we have a crowdsourcing site making claims that are just as absurd … but harder for the average person to understand.  As you play the video on this site, pay special attention to where the hydrogen is going to come from.  Some of you probably already get this from the title of the blog.  Their answer is water.  They are going to split water into hydrogen and oxygen … perhaps from hydroelectric production so they can maintain the claim of zero emissions.

But, that hydro is already in the market producing valuable goods and services directly.  Now, you are converting it back into primary fuels … with an associated loss.  And, how can the hydrogen compete with gasoline?  And, how can a fuel cell compete with a simple electric motor or an internal combustion engine.  Remember, if you have a source of hydrogen, you can run the engine in your gasoline car with that by changing the carburetor setup.

Oh, Joel, stop being so negative …

I am going to follow this to see if people take the bait.  Sad commentary on the ethics of those making this offer.  Anyone with reasonable knowledge knows this is a bad idea economically.