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Publication Title | Practical solar

Organic Rankine Cycle

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Philippe Habib ©2001 Philippe Habib

Half of the Habib family’s utility-intertied PV system was paid for through California’s buydown rebate program.

never wanted to be a power producer. I came to it when the advantages couldn’t be ignored

anymore. When grid power was reliable and cheap, there was no reason to spend a pile of money on a photovoltaic (PV) system. I thought that a PV system would not only never pay for itself, but that it would double my energy bill. Besides, the last thing I needed was another thing to take care of. You never see a magazine called Utility Power User on the magazine rack, and there’s a good reason for that. Utility power just works; it doesn’t require a support group to pass around hints and tips.

22 Home Power #83 • June / July 2001

It wasn’t that I didn’t feel capable of designing or installing a system. I designed our house, and I was very involved in its construction. But with a busy life, I don’t want to spend the little free time I have adjusting this or that, or troubleshooting on a regular basis.

Thermal Efficiency

My wife and I kept with the pragmatist theme as we were designing and building the house. Energy use and efficiency were an important but not overriding part of every decision. All windows are double glazed, and all south or west-facing glass is low-E. All of the insulation exceeds the typical R-19 ceilings, R-13 walls, and R-13 floors in our area—we have R-30, R-15, and R-19 respectively.

All hot water and house heat comes from a very high efficiency Polaris model water heater made by American Water Heater. The tank of this 94 percent efficient unit is made entirely of stainless steel. So in addition to fuel savings, I also avoid buying a new heater every few years. The heat system is hydronic, using cross-linked polyethylene pipes in the floor. In addition, two 4 by 8 foot (1.2 x 2.4 m) solar thermal panels pre-heat water, which is stored in a 100 gallon (380 l) tank for domestic use.

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