The Economics of Turning Water Into Energy

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by Daniel Brouse and Sidd Mukherjee
Summer of 2003

At the beginning of a this experiment, an economist said using water was cheaper than using electricity to control our environment. A scientist said it couldn't be done. So, the economist set-up the scientific experiment.

After several months, the economist was pleased that the scientific experiment was a success -- cooling a home with water is much cheaper (more economical) than with electricity.

Independently, the scientist happened upon an economic theory -- cooling a home with water is much cheaper than with electricity.

This confirmed a major breakthrough. Substituting water for electricity had not been done before. It was like comparing apples to oranges. Now, it was like comparing apples to apples... or, perhaps like turning water to wine?

Sidd said:
yesterday I was outside hosing down the windows
(yes I checked to see they were shut first...)

when I began to tink...

the aircon was humming ...
the sun was shining bright ...
and the water dried rapidly ...
every cubic foot of water that evaporated took 61000 BTU with it (about a 1000 BTU per pound, and about 60 pounds in a cubic foot of water)

now lets think about aircon efficiency ... the aircon was put in in 1992 .. that year the feds mandated SEER ratings of 10 that means the aircon had to move 10 BTU of heat outta house for every BTU of electric that it ate

of course after 10 yrs the aircon is not as efficient ... but lets use 10 as a bestcase...

so every cubic foot of water evaporating off the side of the house makes the aircon eat 61000 less BTU of electric ... that's 1.78 KWh

electric is approx 8.5 c/KWh here ...

so evry cubic foot of water that evaporates saves 15 cents of electric

water is 4c/cubic foot here

u can do the rest of the math...

there are worse ways to spend the afternoon...

and seeing that today is another nice hot sunny day...
and that i have to hose out my recycling trashcans...
i broke the hose out and thought some more

the first thing i thought of was a cold beer

that taken care of, i set it down and crawled behind the groaning aircon compressor in back

i see a 15 amp 220V circuit, actual running rating is 12 A (with various fusing options for startup current...and does not include fan motor indoors... so i will use the 15 A number...)

that works out to is 3.3KW unit .. eats 3.3KWh per hour

1 cubic foot of water saves 1.78 KWh

so evry cubic foot evaporated shuts my aircon off for 32 minnits

so i crawled out, took a deep swig, smiled broadly and set the hose on 'kill'

of course... this is an experiment... so i need to keep trak of indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity, and water usage and a buncha udder stuff like aircon running time ... and utility bills ...

in my copious spare time ... watch this space for further details

I reply:
SHHHHH! Don't tell anyone! This is what I was afraid of... what happens if everyone starts doing it?

That is why I insist on using rain, waste or re-cycled water. Because if everyone starts using tap water, the price of water and of electricity will likely strive for equilibrium (price parity).

        (water companies will be able to demand a higher price
        from you... what would you pay up to... 14.995c/cubic?)

(This is a great example of The Golden Rule of Social Justification.)

What would that look like? An almost 400% increase in the price of water?

Of course, that assumes the supply of fresh water won't decrease.

        (water supplies will decrease as we won't be able to
        manufacture fresh water fast enough)

It will be a businessman's dream come true... increase in demand while there is a shortage of supply.

As an example, I expect that water will pass the price of gasoline/gallon.

I put a sump pump into a 5gal bucket of collected greywater (from showering), hook it up to a hose, and pump it to the roof. A 5gal bucket of recycled water usually covers a complete section of roof. During intense heat, I stick the pump in a 44gal garbage can full of collected rainwater. Our experiment uses only rainwater and greywater. Don't be a hoser and deplete the groundwater supply. Use only recycled water.

2023 Update

During the last twenty years since we first conducted the "Turning Water Into Electricity Experiment," global warming has accelerated at an exponential rate as we had forecast back in the 1990's. "Human induced climate change is an exponential component of an unordered system (chaos theory). That means global warming is accelerating at a rapid rate in a complex way."

By 2023 in parts of the USA, water and electricity have reached, or are reaching, price parity. Beyond reaching the same price, water restrictions are becoming common in parts of the country making water unavailable at any price.

Sidd added, "It depends on how much water costs if you haven't collected enough rain. So Arizona, Colorado, California... might be a problem."

In addition, many states have "prior appropriation water rights" where the rights to impeding the flow of water off the property are limited. For instance, you may not be allowed to collect rainwater in Colorado. These states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Make sure you own your water rights prior to implementation.

2003 Philadelphia Spirit Experiment &

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