Saturday, March 31, 2012

Energy Update

I recently added another piece to our home energy puzzle - a drain water heat recovery unit (from Water Cycles). It's the copper spiral in the picture. It was installed by Rock Paper Sun the folks that installed our solar panels.

It's a simple, passive device - no electronics, no pumps - just some simple copper tubing. It installs around the main drain. When you take a shower or run hot water for other things, the cold water going into your hot water tank (or into a tankless heater) runs through the spiral and gets warmed by the outgoing waste water.

One of the things that prompted me to get this installed was the frustration of watching the solar thermal panels warm up our hot water tank, and then losing all that heat down the drain after a couple of showers. This way at least some of the heat is recycled.

As spring progresses, we're getting more and more energy from our solar panels.

March was the first month when we generated more electricity than we used. It didn't hurt that we were on holidays for part of the month so our usage was less. And the weather has been mild so the furnace is running less. That doesn't mean we didn't use any electricity from the grid - it just means we put back more than we took. Our best day was today - March 31. We reached 4 kW maximum output - 80% of the rated maximum of 5 kW with a total of 22 kWh for the day. The top of our solar hot water tank is at 55c so our tankless water heater (set at 50c) isn't firing up at all. Nice!

Related posts:
EcoFriendly Sask - Solar Energy for Your Home
Where Does the Energy Go?
Solar Powered

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Photos Hung

Shelley and I hung the newly printed and mounted photos at my office today. (Thanks Shelley!)  I mostly went by the votes I got, although I included a climbing one even though it didn't get any votes :-) A big thanks to everyone who took the time to look at them and vote. Sorry if I didn't end up choosing your favorite!

I got them printed (16 x 24) and mounted ("float mounts") through Don's Photos. I was a little nervous about how they'd turn out but I'm quite happy with them. The underwater one of the turtle is a little too dark and a little too blue, but it's still reasonable.

Here are the ones I picked:

Grand Canyon

Bryce Canyon

You can find them all in the 2011 Favorites set on Flickr.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ocean Discovery Centre

Here are a couple of photos I took at the Ocean Discovery Centre in Sidney on Vancouver Island (near the Victoria airport and Swartz bay ferries). It's a smallish aquarium but it's worth stopping in if you're in the area and you like that kind of thing. Seeing the local underwater life made us wish we were scuba diving this trip.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Point No Point

Clare took us out to Point No Point, a place we first visited over 40 years ago as kids. It rained and snowed all the way there, and all the way back, but miraculously was dry and even some sun while we explored the beach. I had a great time climbing all over the rocks and taking photographs.

I just found out the Flickr slideshows don't work on the iPad (Flash) (thanks Penny). Try this link to the set Point No Point.

I used the new version (4) of Lightroom to process these. It seems like a definite improvement over LR3, which is a bit surprising, since you'd think this was a fairly mature product. Nice work Adobe! (They've lowered the price to $150 so it's a better deal than ever.)

Victoria Birds

If you're on an iPad or other device where the slideshow below doesn't work, try this link to the Victoria Birds set.

I've switched from posting photos to Google Picasa to using Flickr instead. This is because Google, in their single minded fanatic efforts to promote Google+ has hijacked Picasa and redirected it to Google+. It's their service, and it's free, so that's their choice. But it's my choice to jump ship.

I'm still experimenting with the best way to use Flickr, bear with me.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Snapshots from Vancouver

I haven't been taking a lot of photographs, but here are a handful. (The sea otter and frogs are from the aquarium.)

(click to view photos)

Coffee in Vancouver

Started at Pedro's - nothing special coffee wise, but handy to Granville Island and you can watch the ducks and geese (and turtles when it gets warmer).

Hit a Starbucks for breakfast because Pedro's wasn't open yet. Starbucks is an ok fallback but not my first choice.

The best coffee I've had for a long time was at Milano Coffee Roasters, which we ended up at because it's only a few blocks from the Mountain Equipment Coop. (Where I didn't even buy anything!)

Had a good sandwich and coffee at the Terra Breads Cafe in the Village at False Creek.

This morning we found Innocent Coffee. It's a cute little place, not far from Granville Island. For some reason it reminds me of something out of a William Gibson novel. (That's a good thing, by the way.)

And no, we haven't spent our whole time having coffee (although it is one way to escape the rain!) We had a good visit to the aquarium and a good workout at the Cliffhanger climbing gym.