Power plants in the basement

Have you ever wondered what happens to all the heat they generate at the power plant? They burn tons and tons of coal to make steam, the steam spins the turbine, the turbine makes electricity, which they distribute and sell. Everything else is just managing the consequences, because now you’ve got a lot of excess smoke, ash, and heat to deal with. Smoke and ash aren’t so useful, but you should be able to do something with all that heat, right? But like the natural gas that they’re constantly flaring on oil rigs, while it’s true that they CAN do something useful with it, economically it’s not worth their while. Just send it up the stack and be done with it.

So here’s an appealing story: if you install your own electric power plant in your basement, you’re in a good position to benefit from the heat. Even though your economies of scale are nothing like what they have at the power plant, you gain a lot of efficiency by cutting your heating bill and avoiding losses associated with long-distance power distribution. If you live in a place that requires a fair amount of winter heating, it actually makes sense to generate your own electricity. The technology is called micro-combined heat and power (Micro CHP) and if you live in the Northeast, you can get it now: ‘Power plants’ in the basement heat up.

In a related story, if you produce a sitcom in your own house, it is guaranteed to be funnier and have a lower carbon footprint than a typical Hollywood sitcom. Losses due to long-distance humor transport are horrendous.

Ha ha.