Wednesday, December 24, 2008

39 - Answer(s): Part 2

Q: Bill Jeffers - I've been hearing a range of answers on this one, so I'll ask Mit Ssob: How long would it take to make my money back if I installed solar panels on my house? Any other green updates I can make that make sense for both my tree hugger side and my like to have money to spend on my family side?
A: The answer to this question depends on too many variables for me to get into. Instead of breaking this down into a nice spreadsheet for you, I found a few websites that will sell you solar kits of various sizes, power outputs, and prices. These sites will answer your question better than I could.

The last site has a handy calculator on it to calculate savings and cost of the different systems. Therefore I’ll tell you to answer your own damned question by entering info from your last bill. I entered my last bill into the calculator and ran the numbers as an example. According to that calculator it would take me 12 years for the 3600W installation, 19.5 years for the 2000W installation, and 24.5 years for the 1200W installation. These numbers are based on a number of assumptions, including a federal rebate (possibly only available in CA), and 5 hours of sunlight per day. Having lived in Rochester for six years I’m not sure we can guarantee something like that.

As for other “green” solutions for your house that depends on how much you want to spend and how crazy you want to get. There are home kits to harness wind power. More information can be found at the American Wind Energy Association website ( Below are links to some wind turbine providers:

If you want to go down the DIY route I found this site for building your own turbine:

We’ve had conversations about how to harness solar energy to heat your pool as well, so here are a couple of sites with more information about that subject:

I wish you luck with this. Let me know how you make out.

Q: Karyn Graves - Is there a hairstyle for young boys that keeps them warm in the winter and still looks nice (like for pics) & cute? Find me a picture.
A: [Ed: You’re asking Tim this? Have you ever seen his hair? You want your kid looking like that? Hey, be nice!]

I realize that the time has passed for portraits, but I’ll throw down a little rambling for your (and others’) amusement. To keep your son’s head warm I recommend a hairstyle involving more than an inch of hair on top. That rules out a buzz cut or similarly short styles. Those are nice from a maintenance point of view but are less practical in the winter. I’m not sure how long your son’s hair has gotten so far but I’d recommend keeping as much of it as you can. Part of the decision for style will depend on how his hair is growing in. If there’s a natural part to it then I’d work around that. If his head is a blank slate then maybe comb it down the front, trimming the bangs to keep them out of his face. As far as the back goes that’s up to you guys. Since this is a portrait I’d be less concerned about that (unless he has a natural mullet in which case you’ll have to deal with that).

Two sources for inspiration can be found at the JCPenny Portrait Page ( and a Google Image search for “children’s portraits” (

Q: Karyn Graves - Did you know Bernacki is designing solar panel systems for residential and commercial customers now? He says they sell systems for $8,000-$25,000 in CO. "And they usually can produce about 40-100% of your electricity needs."
A: Nope, didn’t know that. Bill, you should contact Bernacki. Get on that. Now.