May 2008

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Devon Klosterman

The people building houses weren't willing to pay the money to build a 10 foot hole because housing tends to be built during times of cheap energy.


Wow, lots of commnets. Mostly uninformed.

I only ran across a few that referred to actual examples of your proposal. You don't need a big yard a or a huge thermal mass. Heat sinks have been on the market for a while. It's best to install them whiel the home is being built. They are just pipes that run 20-60 feet underground and then through your house (like a dryer vent hose). The naturally cooler air keeps coming up, year round.

In response to some of the above comments: Vancouver has many buildings with grass on their roofs. It does more than you might imagine. Toronto is starting this.

And Toronto ran pipes out into Lake Ontario to cool several downtown office buildings (same as a heat sink only circulating water in a closed system). It works very well.

Toronto has a building with gold-glazed windows (real Auric Goldfinger gold). It helps cool the building. Unfortunately, all the reflected heat heats up the buildings around it, who successfully sue the gold building's owners' for their extra cooling costs (don't do this one. But it is imaginative!).


Baduh!!! IT IS.

Sort of.

The real energy is the 1000+ kg elevator little room souring up and down. And, that is used by a counterweight cord. You have one shaft with the elevator, and one shaft with the counterweight.

This is what I am of the impression...I'm not an expert, though.

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My goodness that's a good idea, someone should do that if it's possible or not already being done.


Elevators can run on air; (sort of)

And keeping a house cool can be done with natural resources, grass on the roof and natural air circulation. All financially attractive too. Like i said before, check this;

It really opened my eyes...


[As usual with my posts, I get two types of comments: 1) It will never work, and 2) It is already being done. -- Scott]

Maybe you'd be better off researching stuff before tossing these sorts of things off the cuff.

And to explain the apparent inconsistency here,

1) could be seeing your idea as a way to get more power for the grid. This will not work because you have to pull the lift up with electric power. Which you're going to replace partially with the recovered energy.

2) could be seeing your idea as a way to make powering a lift cheaper, which is already being done by having the lift counterweighted.

So both can be true and correct.

You were an only child, weren't you? If you'd been in a big family, you'd have learned how to dispute at an early age. There IS an art to it.


People go to gyms to expend a LOT of energy to lose weight. Why isn't THAT energy being conserved? Sure, theres a lot thats lost as heat energy that would be pretty difficult to keep hold of, but what about tredmills that are actually powered by tred (and not only that, can store the extra that is generated). Rowing machines, weight lifting...people PAY to do this work..if we could store the energy then not only could the gyms be free (and therefore more popular than other gyms) but we could generate a lot of potential energy. Potentially.
(Excuse this theory if the logisitcs are completely lacking..note that I know very little of physics, engineering and fitness).


The Idea of engineering is very good, but it need a lot of potential to follow up the setup process as there are many steps to engineer the work.


All this talk about people on health equipment generating electricity - well how about convicts? Let them generate some energy while they are in jail. Hell, they could even earn some money, each megawatt (or whatever) is worth $10. And that way if we ever run low on energy, we can just start enforcing more laws to fill up the electric factories, woops I mean jails.

The jails should of course use geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind energy.

More seriously, the guy who mentioned nuclear energy is most on point. Increase the supply to the point that energy is nearly free, and we can all just have more fun and not worry about it. Electric cars totally miss the point when we are still using fossil fuels to generate the electricity.

Mr. Stackelberg

Exhibit 1: "[As usual with my posts, I get two types of comments: 1) It will never work, and 2) It is already being done. -- Scott]"

Exhibit 2: "Researchers have discovered that people who are incompetent generally lack the knowledge that they are incompetent."

I rest my case.

Sorry Scott, love your posts, just couldn't help it.


There is already a hydro-electric dam at the Grand Canyon (actually a little bit beyond it); Hoover Dam, which has been functioning since 1935.


I saw a neat cooling option on TV one day using an external ice storage tank. Here's a link I found for how it works - it shifts almost all of the cooling energy demand to off peak hours (night). It freezes water in a storage tank at night, then during the day a refrigerant is circulated through the ice tank and used to cool the air inside the structure. This particular vendor appears to have commercial and residential products available.


They use "swamp" coolers quite a bit in hot dry areas of the southwest. This little webpage has some basic info:
We had one at one of my previous jobs. It worked well, was incredibly reliable, and cheap to run.


The number of under-informed armchair experts on energy has reached critical mass. I laugh at the people that think changing their light bulbs from incandescent to florescent will change the world. I'm not claiming to be an expert on energy, but the energy consumption from light bulbs is vastly outstripped by the energy used for air and water conditioning. The energy used to light homes is also vastly outstripped by the energy used to light streets, public venues, commercial buildings, and operate traffic signals.

Your incandescent lighting costs are probably less than the energy used to keep your TV, PC, and numerous other devices simply plugged in when not in use. How many florescent light proponents use a power strip to turn off this 'standby energy' drain?

My favorite is the guy who says "Dam up the Grand Canyon". First off, the Grand Canyon is a gorge. The Colorado River, that flows through the Grand Canyon is already dammed. Ahead of the Canyon is Lake Powell, created by the Glen Canyon dam. Beyond the Canyon is Lake Mead, created by the Hoover dam. These have both been in operation for over 40 and 70 years, respectively.

jerry w.

If you could hook some sort of device that could produce electricity from hot air,

we could get enough power to run the country. Sadly, this would only occur every four years.

This power would be available on pretty much the same time schedule as the campaigns

for the office of president happen, but I'm sure that's just a coincidence.


As has been said already, its been done.

Its called a geothermal heat pump. One of the schools here uses it.


How about someone builds a system that harvests all the free cooling energy going to waste as we use water? The water comes out of the ground, as you said, around 50 degrees. Let's assume a family used 10,000 gallons per month for washing, cooking, and watering plants, and they kept their house at 75 degrees.

10,000 gallons of water = 83,000 pounds.
25 degree temperature differential.

= 2 million BTUs of cooling power going to waste.

Additionally, half of that water we pay to heat up anyway. It would save more energy to transfer heat in our homes to the water before heating it in the water heater.



Geothermal heating systems work very well when installed correctly in the right setting. My parents have one in their home, and it works excellent. They work the best when there is a well to draw water from to use as your thermal mass. Well water is always the same temperature. You use the temperature difference to heat or cool your home as needed, and you use the hot water waste in the summer (from cooling the house) in your hot water heater.

If you don't have a well nearby, you can bury a very large u-shaped water storage device to do the same thing (thermal mass). The problem with that is that it requies a large-sized backyard space. Most areas in urban California do not have that backyard space to make it work unfortunately. Hell, most areas in urban St. Louis don't have that yard space. In those cases the u-shaped water/thermal mass storage area would have to be buried under the house itself, and most people don't want to do that unless it's a new construction.

Both my father and I live in the St. Louis metro area where it regularly hits the 90's in the summer. It's not a cold climate.


No offence but this will

1) Never Work


2) It's been done before!


"I often think the energy crisis is a failure of imagination. "

No, it's just captilism pays more.


It'll never work. And in any case it's already being done.


You should be able to run a Sterling Engine pretty well using the temperature difference between a basement and an attic.

Marc Jennings

I knew I'd find the reference *after* posting the previous comment, so here it is ->

Marc Jennings

This reminds me of a scheme I heard about in Scandinavia recently. In a new office building, they are planning to use waste heat from the local underground / subway / mass public underground transport station nearby. A system of heat exchangers sucks the excess and unwanted heat energy out of the station and delivers it to the office building nearby. Using humans as a source of energy? The writers of The Matrix will be loving that one.

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