The Energy Show
The Energy Show
Barry Cinnamon
The Energy Show, hosted by Barry Cinnamon, is a weekly 30 minute talk show that runs every Saturday on KDOW Radio AM in San Jose California. Every week Barry provides practical money-saving tips on ways to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Barry Cinnamon heads up Cinnamon Energy Systems (a San Jose residential and commercial  solar and energy storage contractor) and Spice Solar (suppliers of built-in solar racking technology). After 10,000+ installations at Akeena Solar and Westinghouse Solar, he's developed a pretty good perspective on the real-world economics of rooftop solar -- as well as the best products and services for homeowners, manufacturers and installers. His rooftop tinkering led to the development of integrated racking (released in 2007), AC solar modules (released in 2009), and Spice Solar (the fastest way to install rooftop solar modules).
Blame California Politicians for the 28% Electric Rate Increases on 1/1/2024
As in year’s past, we in California greet the New Year with yet another electric rate increase. It’s almost impossible to believe this time — but on January 1, 2024, PG&E raised electric rates by another 28.4% according to the San Jose Mercury News. Just follow the money. Since 2017, Utilities and the IBEW spent over $111 million on politicians and ballot measures to maintain their monopoly. So it should be no surprise that our government passed laws that make California’s peak rates the highest in the country. The Solar Rights Alliance compiled this list of Utility and IBEW Contributions from publicly available data. So you can see for yourself how much your own politicians -- from the Governor on down -- accepted in contributions. Please listen to this episode of the Energy Show as I connect the dots from these contributions to: ...Anti-solar laws passed by California’s Legislature ...The Governor's appointments of new California Public Utilities Commissioners ...The end of Net Metering ...An array of hostile rooftop solar policies affecting homes and businesses ...Out-of-control utility spending on long distance transmission lines on which utilities get a guaranteed 12% annual profit ...The impact on low- and middle-income residents ...The crash of California’s rooftop solar and storage industry ...The $500+ million budget deficit these job losses will create for California ...And the $500+ million in extra revenue that utilities will rake in from these lost home and business solar installations. My two recommendations to reduce your electric rates are simple: 1. Vote these politicians out, and 2. Consider installing your own rooftop solar and storage system To view the list, please go to https://www.energyshow.biz/listaccess Please forward this Energy Show podcast to any of your friends who are also wondering why their electric rates are so high.
Jan 10
11 min
10 Home Energy Predictions for 2024
I’ve added electrification predictions for 2024 to my customary set of solar and storage predictions. Electrification incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) are already starting to drive demand for heat pumps and electrical upgrades, just as tax credits accelerated the solar and EV markets in the past. So here I go again sticking my neck out with these ten home energy predictions for 2024: EVs will be equipped with integrated 240-volt generators for home backup and evening power Heat pump sales will surge by 25% Fewer than half of the newly announced clean energy manufacturing plants will be completed Utilities in other states will follow California’s lead to end Net Metering Residential solar revenues in California will plunge by 50% A national-scale solar installation company will file for bankruptcy Tesla will claw its way into the U.S. inverter business Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) and Vehicle to Grid (V2G) will not gain traction The residential battery system business will consolidate It’s Game Over for fossil fuels For more details on my Home Energy Predictions for 2024, please go to www.EnergyShow.biz.
Jan 2
24 min
What You Need to Know About Heat Pump Water Heaters
It’s not a matter of IF your hot water heater dies – but WHEN. According to the Department of Energy, the average lifespan of a hot water heater is 13 years. So if your hot water heater is over ten years old – or if you’re planning to electrify your home -- the time to PLAN for a Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH) is NOW. Heat pump water heaters have become consumer favorites — and the bête noir of natural gas companies – because they have efficiencies in the range of 200-300%. Much more efficient than gas water heaters (70-80%), electric water heaters (99%) and tankless water heaters (70-99%). Plus, there are no dangerous exhaust fumes or methane fuel. Their big disadvantage is that they are not an easy replacement for a tankless hot water system. This is because customers who have a tankless system almost never have space for a large hot water tank. So if you have a tankless system – whether inside or outside your house – a HPWH is usually not a good option. There are three reasons why the up-front costs for a new HPWH are usually higher than a simple replacement with a new gas or electric water heater. First, a HPWH is more complicated. Second, most HPWH incentives (except tax credits) require you to bring your existing hot water system up to current building codes. And third, you will need a dedicated 240 volt electric circuit for the most popular HPWH models. Net-net, it’s a little-known secret that these HPWH upgrade costs often negate the value of tempting IRA and local rebates. Nevertheless, heat pump water heaters will continue to be the gold standard for water heater replacements. Please tune into this week’s Energy Show to unlock the future of home domestic hot water heating.
Dec 27, 2023
26 min
COP28 Realities - Now We're Really Screwed
The goal to cap global warming to 1.5C is just a pipe dream. At the rate the earth is warming we’ll hit that threshold in 2026 or sooner. And since our consumption of fossil fuels continues to increase without any meaningful reductions of airborne CO2 concentrations, we are on pace to hit 3C by 2035. It doesn’t take a doctor to diagnose the illness: our planet is sick from global warming. Or to determine the cause of the illness: CO2 emissions. Or the cure: stop burning fossil fuels. But fossil fuel companies and countries are determined to increase the use of fossil fuels. Oil and gas interests were out in force at COP28, from the President Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber — his day job is the head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) — down to the 2,456 fossil fuel lobbyists in attendance. OPEC instructed its members to oppose any language targeting fossil fuels, and Ahmed Al Jaber stated that there is no science indicating that a phase-out of fossil fuels is needed. The Fox (the metaphor, and maybe the network too) is guarding the hen house. And this fox has stated that he has no plans to stop eating chicken. Fossil fuel dominance of the global warming agenda will continue as long as the economics of fossil fuels are so favorable. Pumping oil and gas out of the ground is a license to print money, with virtually no downside risks due to the harm that is created. There are three things we can do to change the lopsided economics of fossil fuels: - Don’t vote for politicians who support fossil fuels - Continue efforts to expand customer-sited solar and storage - Install your own solar and storage system before politicians change the rules Amid this gloomy news there are a few bright rays of hope. COP28 formalized a pact to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030. Our best shot is to leverage the superior economics of solar, wind and batteries to quickly phase out the use of fossil fuels. For a realistic exploration of the realities of COP28, tune into this week’s episode of the Energy Show.
Dec 20, 2023
19 min
I'm Electrifying! How do I upgrade My Solar System?
When you electrify your home – with a heat pump HVAC system, EV charger, induction cooktop or heat pump water heater – your demand for electricity will go up. Duh. Or as Tim Allen would say: “I need more power.” Incentives as part of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) help reduce the upfront costs of these electrification upgrades. But the only way to reduce the operating costs of these new electrical appliances is with more solar power on your roof. But upgrading an old solar system is not for the faint of heart. New solar inverters and panels are unlikely to be compatible with your existing system. Your utility may restrict the number of panels you can add. And sometimes your electrical service may require an upgrade to handle the higher power output from your upgraded solar system. Keep in mind these three recommendations. First, it is relatively easy to add a battery to an existing system. Second, seriously consider replacing the entire system if it is over 15 years old. And third, work with an experienced solar installer who’s familiar with older equipment. For the nitty gritty details about upgrading your existing solar system, please tune into this week’s Energy Show.
Dec 4, 2023
26 min
EV Charging with Tom McCalmont
By 2035 all new cars in California will be electric. It’s an achievable goal based on lower operating costs and rapid price declines for new EVs. But the current per kwh costs of EV charging continue to increase -- and we continue to be woefully short of necessary EV charging infrastructure. I predict a massive backlash against expensive and inconvenient EV charging. Our EV deployment goals are likely to fail. Miserably. The reason is simple: our EV charging paradigm is based on utility profit maximization as they take over the corner filling station – NOT lower driver operating costs (cheap and convenient charging) and NOT leveraging the value of these mobile batteries (such as Vehicle to Home charging). One of the leaders who “thinks different” is Tom McCalmont, CEO of Paired Power. Tom’s product line at Paired Power harnesses local solar power during the day when cars are typically parked at work, shopping malls and other public places. The Paired Power system uses low-cost Level 2 or DC solar charging stations, and avoids expensive and time consuming utility interconnection costs. Both EV owners and manufacturers will benefit. Tune into this week’s Energy Show for a glimpse of the alternate EV-solar future. Imagine charging your car inexpensively at work during the day, and just driving that massive car battery at home and powering your house. Say goodbye to outrageous peak evening electricity costs and blackouts!
Dec 4, 2023
11 min
Inside Scoop About Heat Pumps for Your House
Inside Scoop About Heat Pump HVAC Systems If you can answer these three basic questions, then don’t bother listening to this podcast. The questions are tricky, so if you're the least bit uncertain I suggest you listen to this week's riveting Energy Show episode. How can a heat pump be 300% efficient? Are gas furnaces still the most popular new heating system? Can you get an $8,000 IRA rebate and $2,000 Federal Tax Credit for a heat pump installation in 2023? First, we’ll delve into the way a heat pump HVAC system works. In a nutshell, a heat pump is an air conditioner operating in reverse. This heat pump thermodynamic trickery has been improving so much that heat pumps are now standard equipment on most new homes. They also work great in cold climates, unlike the systems I installed in the ‘80s. Retrofitting a home with a heat pump — which both heats and cools — provides homeowners a great deal of design flexibility. Heat pumps can use existing ductwork, can be installed “ductless" with mini-splits, or a hybrid that combines both. All without a single inch of sticky duct tape. When designed and installed properly, the end result will be an efficient, clean, comfortable and code-compliant heating and cooling system. And affordable. That’s where the IRA comes in. Ahhh, the Inflation Reduction Act. Without a doubt the biggest federal incentive program for clean energy technologies. But complicated with a blizzard of regulations, requirements and not-quite-ready forms for us to fill out. Please tune into this week’s Energy show for an answer to the top three Heat Pump HVAC questions, as well as plain English details about the benefits of heat pumps, how they work, and honest answers about available incentives.
Nov 1, 2023
26 min
Electrical Upgrades for Home Electrification
There is one thing for certain as you electrify your house. You’ll need more electricity. Duh! But getting more electricity from the street to your house is not easy. Bizarrely, it often takes longer to do these electrical upgrades than it does to install your new all electric appliances. When — not if -- your old gas hot water heater dies, you don’t want to wait months for a new 240 volt circuit for that new super-efficient electric heat pump water heater. Nor do you want to delay the installation of your new heat pump HVAC system while you wait for a new electric panel. So you need to plan in advance for these upgrades. There are three general types of upgrades you will need as you electrify your home. First, you will need a dedicated electric circuit (wires and a separate circuit breaker) for each new appliance. Second, you may need a new electric panel if there is not enough space for these new circuits. Third — and most problematic since your utility is involved — you may need to upgrade the electric service from the street to your house. No one likes delays and extra expenses. But there is some good news. There are tax credits and rebates that can significantly reduce these electrical upgrade costs. Tune into this episode of the Energy Show for a detailed rundown on planning for these electrical upgrades. These upgrades take time, but you’ll thank yourself later once they are done and your electrification project proceeds smoothly.
Oct 26, 2023
9 min
IRA Incentives What's Really Available Today?
The Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA, became law in August 2022. It's packed with incentives across the entire value chain, including domestic manufacturing, energy-efficient products, and clean saving energy. But these fantastic incentives do not yet match the realities of what you can get today for your electrification project. The table below shows the most significant IRA electrification incentives that are available to homeowners in 2023, as well as pending IRA incentives in 2024. Many utilities, counties and cities also have localized electrification incentives, such as the SVCE and PCE rebates shown in this table. There's a clear divide between tax credit incentives and rebate incentives. Tax credits are the heroes, with no application process, simple documentation and automatic credit on next year’s tax return. The only downside with tax credit incentives is that they only make sense for homeowners who have an annual tax liability. Rebate incentives -- while well-intentioned — often get bogged down with paperwork, documentation and payment delay nightmares. The rebate terms in the IRA are set by the Department of Energy (DOE), and administered by state energy departments, such as the California Energy Commission (CEC). Unfortunately, even though these appealing rebates have been dangling in front of our eyes since August of 2022, the administration details and forms are not yet available to contractors and customers. There are two other aspects of rebate incentives that you need to consider. First, the IRA rebate incentives are only available to homeowners whose average gross income is less than 150% of the local median income. Second, the additional documentation and paperwork requirements for some rebate programs exceed the value of the incentive. For example, the $1,750 IRA rebate for a heat pump water heater (HPWH) that will be available in 2024 may require a blizzard of paperwork, a contractor affidavit, code-required plumbing upgrades, and a finalized building permit — increasing costs of the HPWH project from $4,000 to $6,500. In other words, the realistic costs of getting the rebate are higher than the value of the rebate itself! The IRA is the biggest clean energy legislation in the U.S. Ever. There is no doubt in my mind that these incentives will accelerate our transition away from polluting sources of energy. But there are a few bumps in the road to electrification. For more about the realities of the IRA for your home, please tune into this week’s Energy Show.
Oct 5, 2023
18 min
How To Select The Best Home Battery
Batteries were everywhere at September’s RE+ Conference in Vegas. I counted over 100 different battery company and system vendors. It was more of a battery and solar tracker show than a solar show — demonstrating the rapid evolution of these clean energy technologies. But out of a hundred batteries on the show floor, there are only half a dozen that I would recommend to homeowners. Home battery systems should provide reliable backup power during a blackout, and also generate utility bill savings. The vast majority of batteries I saw on the show were basically not ready for prime time. Here’s why… First, you need a complete battery system, not just a battery. In addition to the battery, these systems require controls, an inverter, an enclosure, a transfer switch, communications, and a lot of software. It’s extremely important that all these major components are controlled by one company. Batteries are not “plug and play” like printers and solar panels. Second, your battery system should be manufactured by an established company with a strong balance sheet and local service and support — not just a PO Box and a WhatApp number. I often say that it takes an army to grow a successful battery storage system company. Almost impossible to succeed on a shoestring. Third, you need a contractor that knows how to install, configure and support the system. Solar contractors with electricians on staff are generally the most qualified. An experienced local solar contractor is best positioned to give you good advice. Based on recent installation data from Ohm Analytics, the most popular battery systems are from Tesla, SolarEdge, SunPower, Enphase, Generac and FranklinWH. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and be specific about my favorites. Enphase is best for small systems. FranklinWH is best for fast installations and whole home backup. SolarEdge has the most efficient system, and can install the most battery capacity in the smallest space. And Tesla is currently the least expensive and has a well-known brand name. For more about my recommendations of home battery systems, please listen to this week’s Energy Show. You’ll get a charge out of it!
Sep 26, 2023
19 min
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