More Updates coming
If you want more information about our new
Solar-Thermal Grant to help rural businesses investigate and possibly adopt
solar thermal options for their hot water needs,
Take a look at the energy production report from 2010 from
the Weston Solar collectors.
The Solar Hot Water Demonstration
Project at the Weston Farm in Litchfield has now been completed. The Efficiency
Maine Trust was also involved and they have an excellent handout which explains
the project and the resulting savings. Check out the Efficiency Maine website at
Weston and her partner Lance knew the job wasn't going to be easy, but they were
committed to saving energy and doing the work needed to accomplish that task.
The Weston farm resides midway on an
upward gentle slope and is about a mile northwest of Pleasant Pond. It is a
small to medium size dairy farm that produces over 75,000 gallons of milk a
year. There are 50 milking stalls in the main barn with a herd of 91 cows. The
main barn is approximately 3000 SF. The hay storage barn is two levels and is
approximately 2500 SF and the milk house is approximately 200 SF.
In a 2007 energy audit the Weston
Farm consumed approximately 19,900kWh (valued at $3,185.00 per year) to generate
hot water for their dairy operation by the use of an electric hot water heater.
After installation of an on-demand propane hot water heater and a 90 tube double
evacuated solar thermal system the Weston's are now experiencing a savings of
10,500kWh's (valued at $1,700 per year) to generate hot water in the dairy
operation. Prior to the changes the Weston's have made to their farm they were
hovering just below the 20KW threshold for the demand charge from Central Maine
power at a rate of 17.56.
In addition to the
solar panels shown here they use an on-demand propane hot water heater when
Now, with these changes this has
given the Weston's the option of growing the herd a little and a safety net for
a demand charge. Their current demand charge analysis is now below 13KW. In the
summer months the farm has been experiencing water temperatures from the solar
thermal system to pre-heat the water before it enters the on-demand system at or
above 135 degrees. With a temperature rise from the well to the propane system
of at least 80 degrees! Now that is a lot of clean energy! The expected payback
for the Weston's energy investment should be within 5yrs or less.
the Weston Acres, was chosen as the demonstration site for the solar hot
water installation the system was designed to preheat the farm's dairy water prior to being super-heated by an on-demand water
Congratulations to the Weston Family!
Not only were they selected for the demonstration project but they now have it
installed and operational.
Yes!!! that thermostat to the right
shows the water temperature in the holding tank for pre-heated water coming out
of the solar thermal units on the roof on a day of 75° weather.
For additional information you may
want to check the website at
Our energy work has been included in a national
report on Farm Energy Audit programs.
out the report by the National Center on Appropriate Technology, NCAT.
Discussion of our Farm Energy Audit project starts on page 52.
Interested in climate change issues? This
past winter, 2009, the University of Maine prepared a "Maine specific" analysis
that proves to be interesting reading. You may want to take a look at the report
-- "Maine's Climate Future". It is a 74 page document with maps and graphs.
Warning, this is a very large document.
Given the number of
questions we not get regarding energy use, energy savings, alternative energy
and general options about our energy consumption, we've created this page so
that District energy information is in one place.
If you have
suggestions or recommendations let us know.
We got started with
energy related services through our Dairy Farm Energy Audit project which
started in the late fall of 2007. That project information is on a separate
Click here for that information.
But, we are collecting
and receiving a great deal of information related to that project. With the
ongoing dilemma of how to modify our energy dependent activities in this new
world of much more expensive energy, we believe there are some pertinent Latin
- Caveat emptor, usually translated to mean "let the buyer beware". In
this era of near panic about energy consumption, there are a number of solutions
being offered that are questionable at best and simply flagrant and dangerous at
worst. People need to have accurate and comprehensive information to make good
- Carpe diem, often translated to mean "seize the day". Now is the
time to address the changes we need to make in how we use energy. There are
choices we can make and implement now. There will be additional options as we go
forward. Don't get caught by making an unreasoned decision, but do not
wait for some magic bullet to solve the problem.
here for an editorial perspective.
here for a simple btu comparison of different fuels.
As the Kennebec
District collects and puts together additional information about energy sources,
energy technology, energy conservation, and energy products, we will try and
identify sources of information here. Remember the Caveat emptor warning. Some
information is coming from groups or individuals who have an interest in selling
you something. You need to do your research.
Here is a news article from the Waldo Village Soup
regarding an ongoing community dialogue on energy issues called Energizing a
information with the needed internet links.
of these sites are commercial business that also have products they would like
to sell you.
Dept of Energy site with examples of energy building codes
There is a program on a number of public access television channels called
"Hot and Cold". I refer to it as the 'humble farmer' of energy conservation
construction. The host is a fellow called Tom Gocze. You may want to check his
Here is information about a community program in Unity to help address
people's energy needs.
you are using firewood this season you may want to check out Peter's article
on "Sizzlewood" and how to avoid it.
Tools to help
figure out your energy use
Energy audit tools that were shown during the class can
be found at:
NEW -You may want to check with your local library
about "checking out a kill-o-watt" electricity monitors. You use them
to measure how much electricity is being used by your appliances or
other electric unit. I believe Efficiency Maine has made these units
available through the libraries.
Infrared Thermometers $29-$1200 – Pocket unit can
be found at Sears < $50
ENM Counting Instruments – [tracks the 'run time'
of a piece of electrical equipment] T54C1 for under $50 can be found
120V measuring device - Kill-a-watt meter
can be found on numerous websites for under $25 - just type in
name. [tracks and reports on electrical use of an appliance or other
electric gizmo] Currently many of Maine's libraries offer them to lend
out to homeowners.
Light Meters $29 – 500 – a unit for ~$80 can be
Sensor Switch to determine T8 or T12 Lighting –
can be found at
www.sensorswitch.com for under $40.
Thermography cameras $2000 - $35,000. Info at
Flue Gas Analyzers $400- 2000 can be found at
motor energy use and analysis
Looking for a
new or a better way to save energy?
Just because home heating oil
prices and gasoline prices have dropped don't think you have "dodged a bullet."
When the economies of the world rebound, energy prices will rise as well. People
are still looking for energy alternatives to reduce their use of oil, or even do
away with it altogether. But, there are lots of products on the market, and
sometimes claims about them are confusing. What is really likely to provide
the best value over the long haul? DO YOUR RESEARCH!
The recent issue of Consumer
Reports is focused on energy use and compares various energy options. It
reviews furnaces, appliances, light bulbs, hot water heating, computers,
televisions and all kinds of other products that use energy. It may be worth a
visit to your local library if you do not already get a copy.