Friday, June 14, 2013

"Here Comes the Sun!"

I dedicate this song to any of you who know the joys of backpacking – waking in the cold mountain air and making the huge decision to leave your warm sleeping bag – to greet the sun of a new day!


Early Morning at 9000 ft.
 Our way distant ancestor Dimetrodon, produced no body heat , and was dependent on external heating – When a cold blooded animal ( a exotherm)  get warm its easier to move around to catch food and to avoid danger...You can observe this pattern of behavior today with modern lizards.  Dimetrodon could warm up in the morning by  just turning sideways and collected sunlight... and then they were good to go!  Its tough being a cold blooded reptile.
Dimetrodon - a highly specialized reptile!

Modern birds have many features in common with their dinosaur ancestors.  In addition, they have evolved a 4 chambered heart and a more rapid metabolism (they have to eat more to generate all that body heat).  Such changed have required countless generations of slow progressive modification.  Small positive differences that lead to a slightly greater chance of survival  are retained, the ones without the change die off.   

You and I are endotherms: <> .  We have to eat a lot more  to be warm blooded - but we can move easily when we get cold.  And we have ways to regulate our body temperature.

Some birds still depend on the sun for part of their morning warming ritual. 

Turkey vulture on a cool morning
My pups love to lie in the sun and soak up the heat.  No question, they are fully warm-blooded endoderms ( generate their own heat) – but hay!, a little sunlight still feels good.  Bask one side then when it gets too hot turn over and bask the other.

These are not my dogs - but my pups exhibit the same behavior - 
Even us humans enjoy the sun at the beach, river, lake, or back yard.  It is one of the pleasures of summer!

A sunny day on a British beach
But lately, technological man has been looking at  ways to generate usable energy besides burning carbon compounds that come from the ground.  One of the most dependable and efficient methods is the use of solar panels on the rooftop of your home.  At first glance the price of such a system is off-putting – but a new installation is eligible for a number of subsidies  that lower the price considerably... in addition. it is possible to either lease rather than buy your new system for additional savings.

A sunny day on a California beach
Judy and I have just gotten a system installed and every day we  generate between 35 and 40 kw-hrs of energy.  The energy is fed into the PGE power grid and we get power credit.  What we use if subtracted from our credit and in the overcast days of winter we will use more than we produce.  Should we have surplus power at the end of the year PGE will buy it from us (at a much lower rate then customers pay for it).  So it will be to our advantage to  replace gas using appliances  to use  electric power.  Its great fun to go on line in the evening and see how much power we produced that day, or I can go out during the day and watch the electric meter running backward!

Yesterdays power production - updated every 2 hours on my computer

Here is the website of an unnamed Sungevity customer whose experiences were much like ours:
Go to to read a log of his full experience:

Solar panels (not our house)
 “With the 20 year lease were the following benefits:
* Unlike a purchase that comes with a 5-10 year warranty, the
lease essentially provided a 20 year warranty.
* Sungevity offered performance guarantees.
* Sungevity offer "net monitor" - allows them (and you) to monitor
 the output of your system at all times. ( on your computer )
* They both warranty the system for the length of the lease (20 years)
 including the Inverter, which from what I can tell, seems to have a life
 of 10-15 years. So if you purchase, although coming down in price,
inverters are about $4,500 right now.
*  There are no additional payments for the life of the unit.”
* We would have the option to buy the unit in 20 years for its depreciated
* Rebates are available to the buyer that greatly reduce the original listed price.

In addition Sungevity is a leading company in the industry and it it very probabily that they will “be around” in 20 years...