Share and Compare: December Electric Bill

A year on year comparison shows a whopping 49% decrease in electricity consumption (931 kWh in 2011 versus 471 kWh in 2012). Interestingly, the average temperature for the same billing period last year was 54 degrees, compared with a colder 49 degrees this year. So, even though it was 5 degrees colder this year, I still managed to cut my electric consumption by 49% — thanks mainly to a new 15 SEER Rheem HVAC and a Nest thermostat, which were installed in late April.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, the 2011 average monthly residential electric consumption in North Carolina totaled 1,151 kWh at an average cost of $118.09. In 2012, my average monthly electric consumption was 658 kWh (43% less than the state average) at a cost of $71.09 (40% less than the state average). Keep in mind, I was able to take advantage of the efficiency of the new Rheem HVAC and Nest thermostat for only eight months of the year (as they were both installed in late April).

Share and Compare: October Electric Bill

Share and compare and we’ll all learn best practices, save money and decrease waste.

By the way, for those of you who are curious, I live in an 1100 square foot house that was built in 1988 but which I remodeled in 2010, after buying it through an auction (it was a foreclosure). Some upgrades included: insulated windows and doors, insulation in the crawl space and attic, a Rheem 15 SEER HVAC (installed in April 2012), high efficiency (.8 gpf) toilets by Niagara Conservation, low flow shower heads and faucets also by Niagara Conservation, a TED energy monitoring device and a Nest thermostat.

Bonhoeffer on Optimism and the Future

A few words on optimism this morning from the late Dietrich Bonhoeffer:


The essence of optimism is not its view of the present, but the fact that it is the inspiration of life and hope when others give in; it enables persons to hold their heads high when everything seems to be going wrong; it gives them strength to sustain reverses and yet to claim the future for themselves instead of abandoning it to their opponents. It is true there is a silly cowardly kind of optimism, which we must condemn. But the optimism that is willing for the future should never be despised, even if it is proved wrong a hundred times; it is health and vitality, and the sick person has no business to impugn it…


This is an excerpt from a 1942 Christmas letter, which Bonhoeffer wrote to his co-conspirators in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. They were ultimately unsuccessful and Bonhoeffer was shortly sent to a concentration camp, where he continued to encourage his fellow prisoners. Bonhoeffer was executed by direct order from Hitler only four weeks prior to the Allies taking control of Germany. Though Bonhoeffer did not live to see it, his hope for peace and justice was eventually realized.

Seeking High Impact Environmental Entrepreneurs

I wrote the post below for Startup America’s blog. You can find the original here:

For over twenty-five years, the folks here at Cherokee Investment Partners have focused on turning environmental liabilities into assets. Now, we want to make our expertise available to other environmental and clean tech entrepreneurs. That’s why we launched the Cherokee Challenge.

The Challenge is a competition and accelerator designed to identify, fund and develop high impact environmental entrepreneurs. Based in the Research Triangle, we have recruited an outstanding advisory committee to advise, connect and support Challenge ventures.

Up to three environmental ventures will be accepted to participate in the Cherokee Challenge. In addition to access to the advisory committee’s network and mentoring, benefits include:

  • $20,000 in seed funding
  • free office space for three months in Raleigh, June-September, 2012
  • complimentary back office support (incorporation, IRS compliance, accounting)
  • opportunities to meet and pitch numerous investors

The application deadline is April 15, so send in your application as soon as possible!

As for Cherokee’s experience, back in the mid-80’s, we bought a brick plant and began using waste biomass to fire the kilns and contaminated soil to make bricks. Our goal was to get our cost of goods sold down to zero, while also remediating contaminated soil and decreasing dependence on fossil fuels.

We never quite achieved cost of goods sold = $0, but we lowered costs enough to turn around a business in distress. In the process, we remediated over 15 million tons of contaminated soil and, by using waste biomass, we offset some 5.7 billion pounds of carbon dioxide over 16 years.

The brick business spurred the soil remediation business, which in turn alerted us to the opportunity to acquire environmentally distressed real estate. Eventually, we raised four private equity funds totaling more than $2B, focused on investing in and remediating brownfields. We’ve since remediated some 550 brownfield properties throughout the US, Canada and Europe. Along the way, we also invested in over 70 startups or venture funds.

And we’re not done yet. We are now investing in utility-scale solar on brownfields, as well as launching another internal startup focused on energy and brownfields.  And, of course, we’re excited about the startups we’ll support through the Cherokee Challenge!