Coming Soon to Southern California: Rolling Blackouts

Every summer has its own story. For residents of Southern California, this summer’s story is going to include a chapter about rolling blackouts. The L.A. Times wrote the prequel earlier this month. To summarize, the natural gas leak this winter at the Aliso Canyon Underground Storage Facility has left Southern California short on natural gas, which means that, come summer, the region’s utilities could be unable to generate enough electricity to meet demand. To prevent the entire grid from, power managers will institute rolling blackouts by cutting electricity to certain individual sectors of the grid at moments of peak demand.

To many, the possibility of a blackout seems quaint. Who doesn’t enjoy the occasional candlelit dinner? And what parent doesn’t wish their kids would watch less television? The reality of blackouts, however, is deadly serious. Electricity provides us with more than just entertainment. We depend on it to, among other things, refrigerate our food, power hospital equipment, and illuminate traffic signals. We hardly notice it when it’s there, but without electricity are lives are much less safe.

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We’re in Sunset Magazine!

Sunset Magazine July 2015Exciting news! AirScape has been mentioned in the July, 2015 issue of Sunset Magazine.

Matt Golden, an efficiency expert, provided some tips to help readers efficiently keep their homes cool through the summer. In addition to sealing HVAC ducts, properly insulating the home, and drawing the blinds during the day, Matt recommended homeowners invest in a whole house fan—a suggestion we obviously agree strongly with, especially when ours is the brand being recommended.

Sunset’s July, 2015 issue is on newsstands now. It’d be ungrateful for us not to suggest you go out and get a copy, so, if you’re not already a subscriber, please do! We’re a little too excited, however, not to provide a link, so you can also check out our brief appearance here.

Also, Matt is the CEO of a very cool start-up, Open Energy Efficiency. Be sure to check out their website as well!

building simulation-part1

Typical House Energy Flow (click to enlarge) courtesy of Arron Acosta and Cy Hoadley-Kilbourne, MIT

If you’re contemplating an energy upgrade to your house or commercial building, perhaps someone has mentioned the concept of a building simulation, or doing an energy model.  Such a process has been part of the commercial HVAC world for some time now.
As the name suggests, a building simulation involves the use of a computer to simulate the building’s energy performance.  The goal of performing a simulation is not only to predict how much energy a building will use over the course of a year, but also to compare alterrnative designs. We can also look at some measures of comfort within the building.

With all this data, it’s clear that a simulation can be very powerful for helping make decisions. As you might guess, authorities that regulate energy compliance as well as those that give out rebates want to see this kind of analysis done to make sure they are spending our money wisely.

The ‘sankey’ diagram above illustrates the complexity of the energy flows into and out of a typical house.  Based upon a description of the building input by the user, the building simulation software calculates all the energy flows into and out of the building. Not only does the software model the building envelope, but it models the interactions of people, infiltration, and even exotic things like trombe walls. After doing all this, the software has to predict how the building equipment will perform. Everything from furnace efficiency, daylighting controls, through daylighting controls is simulated on a 24hour/365day basis.

The pay-off is not to predict the exact energy use of any one particular house, but instead to look at alternate ways of building, different equipment, and even alternate control strategies.

Over the next blog postings, I’ll keep you in the loop on our progress.

Executive Summary:

Financial analyst is to Spreadsheet AS   Engineer is to Energy Modelling