Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Infrastructure

I hate having to beat this drum again and again, but quality of life is tied to infrastructure. And infrastructure costs money.

Not only is the recent Midwestern heatwave really a national story and a classic case of creating stories where there are none (it's not a global warming story or a climate change story, since global climate change is really about the gradual change in the world's climates, and not so much about heat waves and weather occurrences), but it's also a great way to emphasize how infrastructure can help alleviate a lot of pain for people.

Being able to use a municipal beach or pool is a quality of life issue. Are you willing to pay more in taxes for these things? Why are communities having to add hours to pool opening times? Because they've had to cut back in recent years because of budget cuts. You get the quality of life you pay for.

Also, the electrical grid is being hard hit. Are we really being smart about renewable energy and solar energy? What if every house had between 20 and 25 solar panels and what if those panels were dedicated to an efficient home cooling system? What if you could set this up on most houses (not all, but most) and what if you really could get enough juice out of those panels to cool a home during the day? Sound crazy? It's not.

According to the Department of Energy, the average home in the United States used 920 Kilowatt hours per month just three years ago. Let's say that that's at 1,000 when factoring in the high demand of summer. Now, let's use this calculation to figure out how many solar panels a house would need in order to defray those energy costs.

Now, in the summertime, most homes would get about 8 or 9 hours of sunlight, depending on the angle of the roof. Scaling back some trees might remove the cooling effects of vegetation, but would allow more solar power collection.

If five panels could bring in just 4 kWh per day, multiply that by a factor of five when using 25 solar panels on a rooftop. That gives you 20 kWh generated per day. Multiply that times 24, not 30, since there are always going to be days during the month when you just won't get a lot of sunlight (but you'll get some solar power collection anyway).

I get 600 kWh generated per month with 25 solar panels. Expensive, yes. But if most American homes were outfitted with solar panels right now, the drain on our electrical infrastructure would be greatly reduced right now.

Al Franken Says What Needs to be Said