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PG&E (Northern California) finding: SmartAC program could be mandated?

iPlug

Member
Sep 14, 2019
540
768
Rocklin, CA
Wow, I am continuously amazed at what you west coasters have to go through (specifically power for this topic). We keep our thermostats at 70 in the summer and I kick the bedroom down 1 degree at night just to chill the air before bed. I couldn't imagine 78-80!

Part of the reason you run home colder in the Midwest is because of the humidity. The A/C is as much a dehumidifier as anything else. Until we moved to the east coast and midwest as a native Californian I had never heard of a dehumidifier or saw an A/C unit with water running out of it. It all seemed very strange to me.

I leave the house at 80 and wander around with shorts and a t-shirt. Any below 76 and I need to put on a sweatshirt.
Agree, this is a humidity issue. We lived in the Midwest for 7-8 years. Low 80s can feel surprisingly hot (to an uninitiated Californian). I remember when new to St. Loius, went to a Cardinals game and it was 82F after the sun set and was expecting to feel relief, but everyone was still sweating and uncomfortable in t-shirts and shorts.

78-79F here in dry CA feels quite comfortable.
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
1,868
1,251
East Bay NorCal
Agree, this is a humidity issue. We lived in the Midwest for 7-8 years. Low 80s can feel surprisingly hot (to an uninitiated Californian). I remember when new to St. Loius, went to a Cardinals game and it was 82F after the sun set and was expecting to feel relief, but everyone was still sweating and uncomfortable in t-shirts and shorts.

78-79F here in dry CA feels quite comfortable.


I agree about the humidity being a partial factor. I used to live in Kansas City and I remember it always felt unbelievably cold in the SF area when I visited.

But this is the issue I have with people determining what is the "right" temperature. If someone is comfortable at 74F, then Californians are basically trained to ridicule, snark, and punish that person. So yes, some people feel fine at 78F; and that's just great for California. But some people aren't, and their families will set that AC to whatever makes them comfortable.

Whether you're in Kansas or Missouri, nobody's telling you what you should set your thermostat to. If a single family house sets their thermostat to 78F, maybe their monthly bill is $100. Their neighbor sets it to 74F, they have an energy bill that is $150. The 74F person couldn't care less what the 78F person does.

But in California, you'll have a PoCo that installs black boxes on AC units and a bunch of "peer homeowners" all trying to enforce that 78F is the right AC temp. But the joke is the 78F AC single family household is paying $300 for their monthly electricity while the 74F person is paying $500. The 78F degree house ought to be questioning why their own power is so damn expensive, and the PoCo blames the high cost on the 78F people. That type of deflection is so easy for a monopoly that has a huge ad-spending budget to push their biased messaging.

The California energy propaganda is thick, and is a giant distraction to the greater problem where a normal homeowner is just getting punked hard by the PoCo's inability to operate at scale to provide reasonably priced energy to homes. The only reason California is third in the Union in terms of kWh cost for electricity is because they always blend the "low income" rate with the normal rate. If you just look at the normal rates for normal income folks, PG&E's rate payers are paying the highest rates in the nation.
 

jboy210

Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
5,220
3,243
Northern California
Agree, this is a humidity issue. We lived in the Midwest for 7-8 years. Low 80s can feel surprisingly hot (to an uninitiated Californian). I remember when new to St. Loius, went to a Cardinals game and it was 82F after the sun set and was expecting to feel relief, but everyone was still sweating and uncomfortable in t-shirts and shorts.

78-79F here in dry CA feels quite comfortable.
Yes. I remember living in a Ridgecrest (desert town, gateway to Trona and Death Valley). We would run 5-10 miles in 100-110 degree weather. Clothes were never sweaty,Sskin had a light salt crust. Never felt really hot. Then move to Virginia, humidity near 100% all summer. 85 degrees was oppressive. Hard to run 3-4 miles without feeling overheated.
 
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jboy210

Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
5,220
3,243
Northern California
I agree about the humidity being a partial factor. I used to live in Kansas City and I remember it always felt unbelievably cold in the SF area when I visited.

But this is the issue I have with people determining what is the "right" temperature. If someone is comfortable at 74F, then Californians are basically trained to ridicule, snark, and punish that person. So yes, some people feel fine at 78F; and that's just great for California. But some people aren't, and their families will set that AC to whatever makes them comfortable.

Whether you're in Kansas or Missouri, nobody's telling you what you should set your thermostat to. If a single family house sets their thermostat to 78F, maybe their monthly bill is $100. Their neighbor sets it to 74F, they have an energy bill that is $150. The 74F person couldn't care less what the 78F person does.

But in California, you'll have a PoCo that installs black boxes on AC units and a bunch of "peer homeowners" all trying to enforce that 78F is the right AC temp. But the joke is the 78F AC single family household is paying $300 for their monthly electricity while the 74F person is paying $500. The 78F degree house ought to be questioning why their own power is so damn expensive, and the PoCo blames the high cost on the 78F people. That type of deflection is so easy for a monopoly that has a huge ad-spending budget to push their biased messaging.

The California energy propaganda is thick, and is a giant distraction to the greater problem where a normal homeowner is just getting punked hard by the PoCo's inability to operate at scale to provide reasonably priced energy to homes. The only reason California is third in the Union in terms of kWh cost for electricity is because they always blend the "low income" rate with the normal rate. If you just look at the normal rates for normal income folks, PG&E's rate payers are paying the highest rates in the nation.
I don't have any black boxes on my AC units. My comfort determines what I set the A/C to not PG&E. And for me that is 78-80. I don't see some conspiracy from the Power company.
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
1,868
1,251
East Bay NorCal
I don't have any black boxes on my AC units. My comfort determines what I set the A/C to not PG&E. And for me that is 78-80. I don't see some conspiracy from the Power company.


I'm talking about my neighbor who's family does set their AC to 74F. PG&E put the black boxes that spawned this thread on his house.

Don't get me wrong, you should be able to set your AC to 78F and safe a few bucks compared to someone who sets his to 74F. My point is Californians feel the need to "educate" people who set it to 74F that they're in fact "wrong". Instead of just acknowledging that some people are more comfortable at 74F.

If you think about it, the whole "I can feel comfortable at 78F so you should be too" dialogue is kind of silly. It shouldn't even be a point of discussion at all in any forum or context.

Which leads me to the conspiracy. A reason you are compelled to even have a thought that 78F is "right for everybody" is in part due to the constant bombardment of ads you see about "power down 4 to 9" and "set your AC to 78F" that comes from the various fronts that the CPUC has set up to "educate homeowners" to even have an opinion about how others use energy. They could simply have a message that says "PG&E wants you to power down from 4 to 9 and set your AC to 78F at 3pm please". But then that'd be too obviously linked to the PoCo and people may not listen. So instead, some Energy Upgrade California front buys a crap ton of broadcast and paid direct advertising to spread the messaging.
 
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wwu123

Member
Apr 11, 2017
385
331
Silicon Valley, CA
I'm talking about my neighbor who's family does set their AC to 74F. PG&E put the black boxes that spawned this thread on his house.

Don't get me wrong, you should be able to set your AC to 78F and safe a few bucks compared to someone who sets his to 74F. My point is Californians feel the need to "educate" people who set it to 74F that they're in fact "wrong". Instead of just acknowledging that some people are more comfortable at 74F.

If you think about it, the whole "I can feel comfortable at 78F so you should be too" dialogue is kind of silly. It shouldn't even be a point of discussion at all in any forum or context.

Which leads me to the conspiracy. A reason you are compelled to even have a thought that 78F is "right for everybody" is in part due to the constant bombardment of ads you see about "power down 4 to 9" and "set your AC to 78F" that comes from the various fronts that the CPUC has set up to "educate homeowners" to even have an opinion about how others use energy. They could simply have a message that says "PG&E wants you to power down from 4 to 9 and set your AC to 78F at 3pm please". But then that'd be too obviously linked to the PoCo and people may not listen. So instead, some Energy Upgrade California front buys a crap ton of broadcast and paid direct advertising to spread the messaging.
It's hard to see now, but Californians have the need to educate because there is a finite amount of clean air and water for the amount of Californians that want to live here. It's partly population and partly topography.

Topography - decades before the global macro debate about climate change, California was already turning into a literal cesspool - in the 60's and 70's, even 80's, the smog was so thick, you couldn't see more than two blocks away from your house in the summer. Emissions from cars and power generation got pushed by the tradewinds against the eastern foothills, where it gets stuck. The Midwest can send their emissions eastward to make acid rain for the East Coast. The East Coast emissions blow out to the Atlantic. So California had to start regulating emissions and pollution long before global warming. If you were only in California less than 30 years, you'll probably have no awareness or appreciation of this, as you only see clean air and water. Ironically, solar generation is part of the solution to this, but the PoCo's are trying to kill it.

Population - at the same time, there's nearly 3X the amount of people since the early 60's. If you weren't born in California, and moved here for the mild temps, clean air, whatever, you're part of the problem. If you were born in California, and had two kids, and your two kids each had two kids, you're also part of the problem. The Midwest doesn't have that problem of many people wanting to live in a finite space. In short, everybody in California is part of the problem, and if everyone is going to stay, the burden falls on everyone.

I think a decade ago, when there were very high Tier 3 and 4 rates, the folks who want the A/C at 74F were paying dearly for the incremental consumption, and I'd say they were paying their share. But the PoCo's have flattened out the tier structures to kill residential solar, and now the excessive consumers are not currently paying their true share. Even while everyone is getting moved to TOU, the summer 4-9 peak rate is only about 20% more than the off peak rates.

So similar to the outrage I feel at the Bel-Air mansions during the drought years who felt entitled to use 50X the average amount of water to keep their lawns green because they were "paying for it", I feel miffed at folks who want to use as much electricity as they want just because they "paid for it".
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
1,868
1,251
East Bay NorCal
It's hard to see now, but Californians have the need to educate because there is a finite amount of clean air and water for the amount of Californians that want to live here. It's partly population and partly topography.

Topography - decades before the global macro debate about climate change, California was already turning into a literal cesspool - in the 60's and 70's, even 80's, the smog was so thick, you couldn't see more than two blocks away from your house in the summer. Emissions from cars and power generation got pushed by the tradewinds against the eastern foothills, where it gets stuck. The Midwest can send their emissions eastward to make acid rain for the East Coast. The East Coast emissions blow out to the Atlantic. So California had to start regulating emissions and pollution long before global warming. If you were only in California less than 30 years, you'll probably have no awareness or appreciation of this, as you only see clean air and water. Ironically, solar generation is part of the solution to this, but the PoCo's are trying to kill it.

Population - at the same time, there's nearly 3X the amount of people since the early 60's. If you weren't born in California, and moved here for the mild temps, clean air, whatever, you're part of the problem. If you were born in California, and had two kids, and your two kids each had two kids, you're also part of the problem. The Midwest doesn't have that problem of many people wanting to live in a finite space. In short, everybody in California is part of the problem, and if everyone is going to stay, the burden falls on everyone.

I think a decade ago, when there were very high Tier 3 and 4 rates, the folks who want the A/C at 74F were paying dearly for the incremental consumption, and I'd say they were paying their share. But the PoCo's have flattened out the tier structures to kill residential solar, and now the excessive consumers are not currently paying their true share. Even while everyone is getting moved to TOU, the summer 4-9 peak rate is only about 20% more than the off peak rates.

So similar to the outrage I feel at the Bel-Air mansions during the drought years who felt entitled to use 50X the average amount of water to keep their lawns green because they were "paying for it", I feel miffed at folks who want to use as much electricity as they want just because they "paid for it".


Thank you for for this reply, I think this puts things into a better perspective in terms of how the energy situation has evolved in recent years.

But I am kind of confused by what is your sentiment around whether you feel a relatively 'wealthy' (California's definition of wealthy is kind of skewed since every home is like a million bucks) household should be free to run their AC's at 74F.

So let's take my neighbor who for the sake of this conversation isn't really wealthy in the Bel-Air mansion sort of way. If he wants to run his AC's at 74F... would you be ok if he did so after purchasing a mega big solar array on his house? Or do you think even if this guy were to invest in solar for himself to live with opulent 74F cooling, that he's still passing an unfair buck to the remaining population who don't have solar because he's not paying to maintain the grid?

Because the weirdness of all this is PG&E has chastised him greatly for running 74F. But then at the same time PG&E (through it's lobbying arm) is also making it increasingly difficult for him to go solar. To the extent even if he went solar, PG&E's lobby is in favor of future policy that would effectively end net metering in the way we recognize it today. Because as PG&E and the CPUC have found, only wealthy people are benefitting from solar directly, which means they want these wealthy people to pony up more bucks for the privilege of having produced energy to run AC's at 74F.
 

BGbreeder

Member
Jun 19, 2020
297
190
Bay Area
Yup, I am part of the problem. I chose to live in California. I have however invested significant amounts in reducing energy consumption (insulation, HE appliances, and low flow), changing electric consumption (EV), solar, and locally grown food.

I do feel that this us vs. them mentality on solar vs. non-solar power that Rep. Gonzalez and others are agitating about loses sight of the individual investments that were made to add solar to the grid. Home solar wasn't paid for by the IOU, and it wasn't paid for by low income residents. It was partially paid for by high and upper middle income wage earners nationally via taxes and the ITC, but mostly it was paid by the owners who put their money where their mouths are. As an individual, the investment sucks. Buying TSLA or AAPL or SGY would have been better on an IRR basis. Way better. Would I have put even more on my roof, if I were allowed? "Oh yeah". My part to nudge the country and world along.

@wwu123 I agree. California has evolved since the sixties; the air is cleaner, the power is cleaner, water usage is down per capita statewide (with a few outlier regions like Bel-Air and some of the Central Valley and those Bay Area regions that keep their lawns, and keep them green), energy usage is down per capita, and overall energy use is down to nearly what it was in the seventies. Someone may have the cash to have a green lawn, but it is a waste of water in a desert ecosystem, and morally wrong. In my book, if you want a lawn, live somewhere where it rains frequently. If you live in a Mediterranean climate, plant Mediterranean plants around your home. How many homes in Greece or Morocco have lawns?

Do California homes need more insulation? "Oh yeah, baby". Should we have a statewide initiative again to improve home energy efficiency? I think so, and let's learn from the mistakes made last time. Caulking and weatherstripping isn't sexy, but it is important and would put lots of folks to work in a trade. (Californians are so blasé about spiders wandering around in their homes, because there are so many ways for them to walk in. It always amazes me.) Should California homes be required to be designed to shed summer sun? "Of course." I am not throwing rocks at glass houses here, but many of these issues are not unique to California. Hopefully, better energy efficiency and cleaner power is something that we can all get behind.

Now, if you want to talk about the elephant in the room, let's talk clean water, piping, sewage, and sewers, and oh yeah, those little levee things in the Central Valley. People forget that it has flooded from Sacramento to Bakersfield in historic memory, and if a major levee breaks in the spring, it will again. It would be a toxic soup, and agriculture will be very different for decades.

As to why PG&E seems to have it in for the neighbor of @holeydonut I have no clue. It would seem from the outside to be an effort with little returns, but clearly I am missing something. Then again, I don't understand why PG&E took such exception to @holeydonut's battery installation either. (Conspiracy alert: Perhaps the hidden elephant there is that the local grid is already overloaded, and all the EVs and solar are set to melt the local wires, and PG&E doesn't want to fess up.o_O)

All the best,

BG
 

jboy210

Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
5,220
3,243
Northern California
...

As to why PG&E seems to have it in for the neighbor of @holeydonut I have no clue. It would seem from the outside to be an effort with little returns, but clearly I am missing something. Then again, I don't understand why PG&E took such exception to @holeydonut's battery installation either. (Conspiracy alert: Perhaps the hidden elephant there is that the local grid is already overloaded, and all the EVs and solar are set to melt the local wires, and PG&E doesn't want to fess up.o_O)
Yeah. Something is funny in that neighborhood. Maybe the wiring is ancient and PG&E does not want to upgrade it.

We have people in our neighborhood with TIG welders making art pieces, weight lifting racks, and motorcycle and boat accessories for hours in a summer's evening and they don't have these issues. I am sure those guy's bills are massive and I am sure I would have heard if they were forced to run some sort of auto cutoff on their A/C.
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
1,868
1,251
East Bay NorCal
Yeah. Something is funny in that neighborhood. Maybe the wiring is ancient and PG&E does not want to upgrade it.

We have people in our neighborhood with TIG welders making art pieces, weight lifting racks, and motorcycle and boat accessories for hours in a summer's evening and they don't have these issues. I am sure those guy's bills are massive and I am sure I would have heard if they were forced to run some sort of auto cutoff on their A/C.


It would be interesting to learn if there's some underling explanation for what is going on. This guy had his magic black boxes installed by PG&E a couple months before PG&E showed up and terminated my PV+ESS install back in November 2020.

I've attempted to contact the CPUC about how oversight works with the utilities. Unfortunately PG&E is "self monitoring" in the sense there is no body to report incidents with PG&E to other than PG&E. The only group PG&E has to report to / obey is the CPUC and PG&E"s own "investors." But there is no outside complaint resolution mechanism for PG&E because they are after all, a monopoly.

The CPUC advised if didn't like this hands-off approach to how PG&E deals with incidents, I should file a complaint with Gavin Newsom's "Office of Planning and Research" or OPR. Of course those policymakers don't care about any of this.
 

Big Dog

Active Member
Mar 7, 2016
1,621
1,609
Irvine, CA
I actually found someone that PG&E hates more than me (like for real, is that even possible)??

One of my neighbors saw my Powerwalls and chatted me up today. It seems like last year during sheltering, his August 2020 electricity bill was over $750. He doesn't have an EV; and doesn't have a pool, just has a 4 bedroom house whose occupants were sheltering and they wanted it like 74F. Poor guy, he should know he needs to set his thermostat to 80F, eat cold-cuts, and air dry his clothes in lieu of watching TV.

People in Norcal will recall the rotating outages and brownouts that took place during last summer. California needs more homeowners to eat cold cuts for dinner instead of warm meals.

Anyway, he was wayyyy into the E1 "Tier !" in those months. PG&E actually put him on the naughty list and told him he was a serious offender of extreme energy waste. They actually sent someone to his house to install the following device onto both of his outdoor condensing units:

View attachment 663041

This is PG&E's "SmartAC" program where participants allow PG&E to reduce the frequency of run and duration of run of AC condensing units. This is kind of similar to the "Leap Rewards" where homeowners install smart-thermostats to allow the PoCo to pre-cool a house before peak so the home can ride out the heat without running the ACs. But this device actually sits between the thermostat and control wire entering the outdoor condensing unit.

Normally this is a voluntary program. But for my neighbor PG&E told him he had no choice or else they'd disconnect his service. I got a good chuckle out of this. I never would have thought PG&E could do this. Like demand someone install hardware or else they'd lose service. Edit: the image of the box shown above doesn't show it, but PG&E actually installed a tamper evident lock (like what they put on meters to detect tampering) on both of the units. He was told if they come by for an inspection and the locks were cut, he'd face a big penalty).

Of course now he really wants to install solar panels (I hope he can fit more than me) and some ESS. He's expecting his bill to go up another 10 to 15% compared to last year. And he's not confident in PG&E's assertion that the new TOU rates will have zero impact to homeowners. I just hope PG&E doesn't run this poor guy through the ringer when he tries to go solar+ESS.

More info about this SmartAC program. I had never heard of this before today.


OP: if your friend is using that much juice, in addition to insulation and solar, perhaps he should look at a new more efficient ac unit. And if upgrading might as well upgrade the blower to HEPA filter since wild fires seem to be common nowadays. Order up a Manual J and measure the duct work.
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
1,868
1,251
East Bay NorCal
OP: if your friend is using that much juice, in addition to insulation and solar, perhaps he should look at a new more efficient ac unit. And if upgrading might as well upgrade the blower to HEPA filter since wild fires seem to be common nowadays. Order up a Manual J and measure the duct work.


Yeah, for sure he's looking into an HVAC overhaul too. I had a pretty attractive bid on some Bryant gear in early 2020. Variable speed outdoor condensing units, 96% efficient furnaces, and ECM air handlers. I'm going to try and re-boot with project for him.

I got sucked by Lennox matching that Bryant price; but Lennox gear just isn't as good as their name brand projects. I shoulda just went with Bryant.

Also, if he's able to over-size his array, I'd like him to consider heat pumps instead of replacing the gas furnaces. But one thing that he'll have to experience in person is how fast a heat pump actually starts pushing out heat. Some of the older heat pumps would take like 30 seconds to a minute to really warm up; which means the air handler would push cold air. He remembers this from his days in the midwest and isn't so keen on heat pumps because of that bad experience. Not sure how to let him experience a new/modern heat pump though. Seems like a problem for an HVAC salesperson lol.

No matter what though, I'm going to talk him into over-sizing his evaporator coils. As others noted here, California tends to be drier. So it's a perfect place to just drive up cooling efficiency with a humidity trade-off. If he gets the right gear, he'll be able to set that AC to 74F and spend the same energy as other folks who set it to 77F. Sounds like a win across the board for everybody.
 

wwu123

Member
Apr 11, 2017
385
331
Silicon Valley, CA
Thank you for for this reply, I think this puts things into a better perspective in terms of how the energy situation has evolved in recent years.

But I am kind of confused by what is your sentiment around whether you feel a relatively 'wealthy' (California's definition of wealthy is kind of skewed since every home is like a million bucks) household should be free to run their AC's at 74F.

So let's take my neighbor who for the sake of this conversation isn't really wealthy in the Bel-Air mansion sort of way. If he wants to run his AC's at 74F... would you be ok if he did so after purchasing a mega big solar array on his house? Or do you think even if this guy were to invest in solar for himself to live with opulent 74F cooling, that he's still passing an unfair buck to the remaining population who don't have solar because he's not paying to maintain the grid?

Because the weirdness of all this is PG&E has chastised him greatly for running 74F. But then at the same time PG&E (through it's lobbying arm) is also making it increasingly difficult for him to go solar. To the extent even if he went solar, PG&E's lobby is in favor of future policy that would effectively end net metering in the way we recognize it today. Because as PG&E and the CPUC have found, only wealthy people are benefitting from solar directly, which means they want these wealthy people to pony up more bucks for the privilege of having produced energy to run AC's at 74F.
Apologies that I did go a little bit extreme in the water analogy, was just suggesting there's at some point a limit of reasonableness to our choices based on the greater good. Didn't mean to suggest that your neighbor, which is the original topic, was either wealthy or excessively wasteful.

In fact, I roughly calculated that if their highest bill was $750 last summer, that's about probably about six times baseline (and baseline I think is about 60-70% of the average household). It is high, but if it was during those heatwaves especially, it's pretty high but not crazy. Many folks in California have pools and the energy for pool pumps and heating probably similar to the extra your neighbor uses to go from 78F to 74F. Some folks around my area choose to run server farms in their home, or mine bitcoin things, that use/"waste" a lot of power too.

So if your neighbor chooses to use additional power for A/C, and doesn't have a pool or a server farm, I'm actually OK with it. But kudos for him to start looking at solar and ESS to self-generate a lot of that addiitonal power in a 100% green manner that doesn't contribute to excessive societal smog and emissions. Thing is, it'll probably save him money too, so he can both have his cake and eat it too. Which is the rub - if his A/C and power bill is $750 every summer month and not just in the heatwave, there's a huge inefficiency there somewhere that's costing him dearly. Whether it's solar, or better insulation as BGbreeder mentions, or replacing old A/C units with efficient minisplits, one of those things is going to allow him to have his 74F, use less energy, AND save himself money in the long run all at the same time.
 

Big Dog

Active Member
Mar 7, 2016
1,621
1,609
Irvine, CA
Yeah, for sure he's looking into an HVAC overhaul too. I had a pretty attractive bid on some Bryant gear in early 2020. Variable speed outdoor condensing units, 96% efficient furnaces, and ECM air handlers. I'm going to try and re-boot with project for him.

I got sucked by Lennox matching that Bryant price; but Lennox gear just isn't as good as their name brand projects. I shoulda just went with Bryant.

Also, if he's able to over-size his array, I'd like him to consider heat pumps instead of replacing the gas furnaces. But one thing that he'll have to experience in person is how fast a heat pump actually starts pushing out heat. Some of the older heat pumps would take like 30 seconds to a minute to really warm up; which means the air handler would push cold air. He remembers this from his days in the midwest and isn't so keen on heat pumps because of that bad experience. Not sure how to let him experience a new/modern heat pump though. Seems like a problem for an HVAC salesperson lol.

No matter what though, I'm going to talk him into over-sizing his evaporator coils. As others noted here, California tends to be drier. So it's a perfect place to just drive up cooling efficiency with a humidity trade-off. If he gets the right gear, he'll be able to set that AC to 74F and spend the same energy as other folks who set it to 77F. Sounds like a win across the board for everybody.
Personally, a fan of Lennox higher end equipment, but Bryant is good to. Don't worry about the furnace, as nearly all furnaces in CA are over-sized, particularly in SoCal (where the heating demand is limited). Just focus on highly efficient ac compressor (at least two stage), and the rest comes with the pkg. Agree about a heat pump with Solar. Get at least 5 bids. Good luck.

Oversizing ac compressor is exactly the WRONG way to go in CA. An oversized unit only makes indoors cold and clammy. Oversize is only good for the 5% of hottest days of the year. In HVAC theory, the idea is to plan for 90-95% of the cooling days and the unit will run continuously to balance humidity and cooling. (But that also means it won't cool to 72 degrees when it is 100 outside.)
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
1,868
1,251
East Bay NorCal
Personally, a fan of Lennox higher end equipment, but Bryant is good to. Don't worry about the furnace, as nearly all furnaces in CA are over-sized, particularly in SoCal (where the heating demand is limited). Just focus on highly efficient ac compressor (at least two stage), and the rest comes with the pkg. Agree about a heat pump with Solar. Get at least 5 bids. Good luck.

Oversizing ac compressor is exactly the WRONG way to go in CA. An oversized unit only makes indoors cold and clammy. Oversize is only good for the 5% of hottest days of the year. In HVAC theory, the idea is to plan for 90-95% of the cooling days and the unit will run continuously to balance humidity and cooling. (But that also means it won't cool to 72 degrees when it is 100 outside.)

It gets pretty cold where we're at in the winter time. Not freezing-cold, but enough that each furnace gets a good workout and my PG&E gas bill makes me want to barf. In Dec/Jan my upstairs furnace ran 92/83 hours respectively and downstairs ran 140/147 hours respectively. And of course it was dry AF and my hands were all messed up.

I actually have the opposite problem on the condensers. My HVAC installer put in an undersized evaporators (I should have done more up-front research on evaporators before I bought HVAC systems). And my summertime indoor humidity is super low. Summertime outdoor humidity was recorded at 50% by Lennox, so what is happening is the AC running some of the time is dropping indoor humidity to unhappy levels.

According to Lennox, my August 2020 my downstairs indoor humidity was 40% which I guess is good for minimizing mold, but just dries out my skin a lot. The upstairs humidity wasn't recorded (the E30 thermostat is flaky), but didn't really feel much different than downstairs.

But yeah, I hear ya... clammy is no good for comfort or mold growth. I just don't think we have that problem where I'm at. A upsized evaporator seems like a way to save some money and not impact the great AC feeling.

I agree with the sentiment that I probably only needed 2.5 ton units upstairs and downstairs (every installer including the ones with the fancy Manual Whatever calcs wanted to put 3 ton on my house). I'll make sure he gets a bid at 2.5 ton to see if that makes more sense for his new system. I just hope he realizes none of this stuff is cheap lol

Thanks!
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
1,868
1,251
East Bay NorCal
I have said before I was in one of those programs before, and would never (ever, ever, ever ever) do it again, based on my experiences with it when I was in there... and I AM someone who "sets the thermostat to 80 degrees inside" in the summer, along with having solar and now powerwalls.

I will never again give the utility or anyone else any control over my AC, thermostats etc that I dont have to. No "rush hour rewards" no connecting to my nest thermostat to raise the temp (because they raise it no matter what you have it set to, even if you have it set to 80 or 80 degrees when its 110 outside, it raises 2-3 degrees, so you get punished no matter what temp you set).


Lol, right on cue... I just got this in my inbox. Should I sign up? There's $200 to be had if I let PG&E take control of my batteries and my thermostats! $$$$$$$

1621546225459.png
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
1,868
1,251
East Bay NorCal
So I guess us saying the batteries cannot get back to the grid is no longer correct to say?

It's a semantics issue... but yeah I guess grid-export is "possible".

But the terms of the agreement I saw meant I could not voluntarily put energy back when I wanted. I'd have to allow PG&E to take it from me when they felt it was necessary.

I think most people who think of "exporting to the grid" think of exporting a certain kWh that they assign at a time they want to export it. So I don't think what Sunrun/PG&E are supporting is technically in line with what you or I would find valuable as a grid-exporting ability.

And no, I still don't know how to grid charge during off peak... that's probably the feature we all want so we could charge up during 1am if the next day had a lot of clouds in the forecast.
 
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