May 2008

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Don't think so small... think BIG! The principle you're talking about would work as a way of getting energy from ocean (almost free since the water is doing it anyway). A big device that uses the warm water rising from the bottom of the ocean and the cold water descending to create a turbine...

or even science fiction's favourite, the space elevator ( which uses the same principle you describe in the first paragraph. Someone much brighter than me (can't find it with google, that's how dumb I am) said in the long run it would take more power to keep the elevator car powered with lights and muzack than it would take to move the car up and down into orbit.

Evil Mike

Good work on predicting the comment categories!
I wish my blog got as much commentary... but then there must be a point where it's also annoying.

Glad you keep this blog up, and open to everybody (especially me). Thanx.


Hi Scott rather than your Jailer Screen Window system you could also look at the Trombe Wall systems. Also in hot climates a considerable reduction in heat gain can be obtained by putting reflective film on windows


seth are you retarded geo thermal ie geo- the earth and thermal -heat energy is heat from the earth usually using the heat to heat water which spins a turbine

Dan Quixote

What about the third type of responses - the ones that are funny in their own right? I like those the best. Unvented humor pockets get pent up in the blogosphere, and it takes just the right blog bost to get that gas pocket released.

Rick in China

"Jailer Screen Window" I only see these in ghettos, do you have some way to mask their ugliness from the outside?

rita mae

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

I didn't say that, Lovey. It WILL work, and it HASN'T been done yet. Not by, you, anyway.

So, there! All you nay-sayers should be ashamed of yourselves, making Scott so discouraged.

What did you expect, Scott? We can't always dance around the flag pole every time you start the music. It's 9:11 p.m. Tuesday evening and I am getting ready to leave work. Been here since 7:30 a.m. and didn't leave my desk -- even for lunch. I ate some cheese and crackers and a yogurt. Okay, I did go potty a couple of times, but that doesn't count. (No one brought me any ice cream, either, so I'm going home and make myself a hot fudge sundae.)

I love you, Scott. Think I'll have an extra scoop of Rocky Road in your honor.

Rita Mae


I love these ideas about the energy crisis. Just this week, I've come across 2 people in Australia who have built & drive electric cars that resolve 99% of the issues critics raised: cost/endurance etc. One is in Brisbane and the other in Melbourne. We will ressurect the EV1 yet!

The real thing here is awareness. If you raise people's awareness of their consumption, behaviour changes follow. My favourite idea is to print a Saudi flag on the bill of every customer who used more energy since last bill (our utility companies here do a little graph, so it wouldn't be difficult to do.

Imagine if you got your next energy bill and it was addressed to "Dear traitor" with a lovely Middle Eastern flag - that would get attention...


It does work. Thermal ground loop exchange systems are very effective in capturing the lower ambient temperatures below ground and converting them to heating and cooling for residential and commercial applications.

The real problem is that people think alternative forms of energy (solar, wind, micro-hydro and geothermal) are too expensive to apply to their situation. They forget how much the public utilities invested to develop their power production infrastructure. Power companies pass this cost on in the ever increasing energy bill that everyone complains about.

The cost of installing smaller decentralized systems (your house) is coming down due to advances in technology and competition. Government rebates and tax incentives even make it cheaper and many are taking advantage of these. Shopping for renewable energy solutions reveals how good deal they are.

Jail Screen Windows? Drive through many older any inner city neighborhood and all the windows are covered with them. I always thought they create fire traps.


today is my Bday
what i learned recently:
'if we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present
our life has no end in just the way in which our visual field has no limits'
Wittgenstein, TLP


George Bush uses a geothermal type system. Y'all might find the Bush-Gore comparison interesting:

There is merit to the thermal mass idea if you sink long rods in the ground rather than bury one big chunk. Just like fins on any heat exchanger. The rods then connect to a plate that the house sits on. As an engineer I'm wondering what the optimum array shape would be ... interesting thought. As always, its probably been done before :-)

Bruce Purcell

(2) it's already being done.
I held the idiot stick last spring for a guy digging out a foundation. He dug a hole next to the basement, piled in about thirty feet of flexible tubing, and covered the hole back up.
Mostly for cooling, just running air through the tube before it goes into the air conditioner. Would work in winter too.
No way it cost 20 grand.
500.00$ MAYBE.


The important thing is to never stop brainstorming, then record your inventions in a database. Whenever you need more money, then just reach into your bag of brainstormed inventions and pull out a patent. Of course, thats the part where it gets expensive, but being a celebrity the probability of somebody taking your patent before you do is much less since you have investing money and could buy a patent on a whim. :)


The important thing is to never stop brainstorming :)


This is all just FYI,
When they first built the first four lines of the underground subway system in Seoul, they didn't include cooling systems, based on the principle that the temperature remains more or less constant at that depth. However, as time passed, it got to a point that the temperature at the subway stations became somewhat the same as the temperature outside. Of course, I'm sure the ground tubes they use for small residences don't have to bear the same amount of cooling load.


Best thermal mass is Water, a big water tank under your floor will help moderate temperatures, by the time time it heats up (in summer) it's winter and it slowly surrenders the heat back to cool down just in time for summer again.

We have a solar powered fan on our roof, we open all the windows and let the fan suck out the hot air.Where we live, we've got no fences and just leave the house unlocked (even when we're out) gotta love Australia.

Best of all would be a draw through system, where the air passes through an underground tunnel up into the house to be sucked out the top buy convective flow. As the air cools, water condenses out also, cool dry air is then drawn up and ito the house. A true solid state airconditioner. Termite mounds use exactly that principle to stay cool here in Aust.


The high/low window idea sounds an awful lot like the 'wind tower' or 'wind catcher' which has been a feature of Middle Eastern architecture for centuries:


How unfortunate for you that the vast majority of people don't live in multiple-storey houses.


I don't understand why geothermal can't work in California. It seems to me that it's just energy exchange. As long as the ground is a different temperatute than what's above the ground you can use geothermal effectively. And yes - on small scales - they are expensive to put in. But the fact that your electricity bills are tiny sort of makes up for that I think. Good that you are thinking of alternative methods!


Sash windows, if used properly, can cool in this manner. The top and bottom halves should be opened a few inches so that hot air rises out of the top half and cooler air is drawn in the bottom half.


Patti considers your windows:
Jailer windows? On the ground floor ....
Gee, I think they could almost be considered dual purpose windows.
They can be used for Teenagers, too... can't they?
To keep them in the house at night? Yeah, I believe those and a good video surveillance security system should keep our kids at home..oops..I mean "safe".
Would it be legal or would that be considered abusive?

I mean, you CAN get air through them and talk through them, right?

Sam Thornton

Considering the huge number of jerkoffs in the current administration, harnessing the excess energy generated by self-gratification should not only be a no-brainer, it might well be the answer to our energy crisis, but not necessarily global warming.


The guy who was worried about humidity must not have spent much time in California.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a blog post about how his dad heats and cools his house with an air compressor and a tube that runs 10 or fifteen underground. Said it worked really well. I'm too lazy to find the link.


Also, why do we use power for refrigerators in winter (in cold climates)? Couldn't we just have a tube that runs outside to get the freezing air and bring it into the fridge on a thermostat regulated system? That's a whole lot less power than keeping the fridge cold since its in your 'warm' house.

There should be a 'winter' setting on the fridge where it rotates from outside air to inside/house air depending on the temp of the fridge.

Also, just keeping food outside or in the garage can work as a fridge, but usually does as a freezer. Not good for soda when it explodes...


What about the sewage pipes in tall buildings? All of that water gets pumped to the top and then falls to the ground mixed with stuff that came-up on the elevators. Couldn't they hook at to a turbine?

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