denkenberger

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Changing the world through slack & hobbies

Great post! I've been mentioning for years that volunteering can be an effective way of making a contribution. Though many people think of volunteering as for a specific organization, I don't think it has to be, so a hobby could be an example. I think there are not enough volunteer opportunities in EA, and we've worked hard at ALLFED on our volunteer program. Not only have we had dozens of volunteers skill up, but they have also made significant contributions, often co-authoring journal articles and becoming full time staff. Thanks for the shout out! I'm actually still volunteering for ALLFED (and donating).

Covid 7/7/22: Paxlovid at the Pharmacy

I'm probably a bit more concerned about monkeypox than you are, mainly because it has an alarmingly long incubation period (up to 14 days) and then a punishingly long infectious period (3-4 weeks).

So with doubling every 10.5 days, that would seem to mean a high R0 - what's your estimate? And really because some people are still being cautious about COVID, the true R0 (with normal behavior) would be even higher than what is measured now.

Air Conditioner Test Results & Discussion

I would say that is basically right. AC exhaust is about as humid as indoor air. The fraction of the heating load in the summer due to infiltration really does depend on how tight your building construction is. With the numbers Jeff was assuming for a very old house, infiltration would be a much larger percentage. There are some other sources of heat in a house that come with humidity, such as people and showers, but overall it is much less humidity than bringing in outdoor air (there is heat conduction through the walls, electricity use of lighting and appliances, etc.). So that might mean that it would take you from a 25% efficiency loss (ignoring humidity) up to a 35% efficiency loss, which is still a big deal. But I'm not sure if 85°F in California typically corresponds to 50% relative humidity.

Air Conditioner Test Results & Discussion

If you want to geek out on this you can use a psychrometric chart. For instance, if outdoor air is 85F and 50% relative humidity (RH), that's an enthalpy of about 35 BTU/lb of dry air. Typical exit air conditions on the cool side of an air conditioner are ~50F and 100% RH, so ~20 BTU/lb of dry air. The dehumidification portion would be going to 85F and ~30% RH or ~29 BTU/lb of dry air, so ~40% of the heat removed is in the form of condensing water (latent). This means you would take the sensible part and multiply by about 1.7 to get the total load on the air conditioner. If you were not drawing in outdoor air, the latent load would be much lower. So overall I think you're right that in CA the humidity correction is not as big as the other factors.

Air Conditioner Test Results & Discussion

The thermal time constant of a building is around a day, so you should really be running each of these tests for more than a day (and correcting for differences in ambient conditions). Basically, the control should exceed the average ambient temp because of solar and internal (e.g. electricity consumption) gains. And see my other comment about doing something about humidity removal. Then we might actually have something rigorous (based on doing an experiment with fairly expensive equipment, I still had error bars around +/-1°C, so I don't think you have very much confidence at this point).

Air Conditioner Test Results & Discussion

I must admit I was surprised by the statistics here. It is true if you only use the air conditioner few days a year, the energy efficiency is not important. However, the cooling capacity is important. I think many people are using efficiency to mean cooling capacity above. Anyway, let's say the incremental cost of going from one hose to two hoses is $30. From working on Department of Energy energy efficiency rules, typically the marginal markup of an efficient product is less than the markup on the product overall (meaning that the incremental cost of just adding a hose is less than the $20 of buying it separately). It is true that with a smaller area for the air to come into the device with a hose, the velocity has to be higher, so the fan blades need to be made bigger (it typically is one motor powering two different fan blades on two sides, at least for window units). But then you could save money on the housing because the port is smaller. The incremental cost of motors is low. Then if the air conditioner cost $200 to start with, that would be 15% incremental cost. Then let's say the cooling capacity increased by 25% (I would say it actually does matter that a T-shirt was used, which would allow room area and instead of just outdoor air, so it probably would be higher than this). What this means is that the two hose actually has greater cooling capacity per dollar, so you should choose a small two hose even if you don't care about energy use at all. Strictly this is only true with no economies of scale, which is not a great assumption. But I think overall it will hold. Another case this would break down is if a person were plugging and unplugging many times, but I don't think that's the typical person. So I suspect what is going on is that people don't realize that the cooling capacity of the one hose is actually reduced more than the cost, so they should just be getting a smaller capacity two hose unit (at lower initial cost and energy cost).

There is a broader question here of whether there should be energy efficiency regulations. If people were perfectly rational and had perfect information, we would not need them. But not only are the incremental costs of energy efficiency regulations found to be economically beneficial by the US Department of Energy (basically a good return on investment), but a retrospective study found that the actual incremental cost of meeting the efficiency regulations was about an order of magnitude lower than predicted by the Department of Energy! So I think there's a very strong case for energy efficiency regulations.

Air Conditioner Test Results & Discussion

I overlooked a crucial consideration raised by denkenberger here that reduces the efficiency loss ~2x.

Thanks-it looks like you are referring to the net infiltration flow rate impact on the building. But there was also the consideration of humidity, and I did not see any humidity measurements in the data, so we are not able to resolve that one. Humidity sensors are fairly cheap, but notoriously unreliable. But one could actually measure the amount of water condensed pretty accurately to get an idea how much of the cooling of the air conditioner is going to condensing water versus cooling air (sensibly).

On A List of Lethalities

What is your estimate of the Metaculus question "Will there be a positive transition to a world with radically smarter-than-human artificial intelligence?" It sounds like it is much lower than the community prediction of 55%. Do you think this is because the community has significant probability mass on CAIS, ems, or Paul-like scenarios? What probability mass do you put on those (and are there others)?

MERV Filters for Covid?

Yes, 0.35 ACH is for the whole house. Most houses do not have active ventilation systems, so that's all you would get for the bedroom. But that is true that if you are worried about CO2, you should have higher ACH in bedrooms. But this recommendation is not just about CO2, but also things like formaldehyde. Also it is roughly the amount that houses get on average. I have seen studies showing that the cost of sick building syndrome is well worth having higher ventilation rates. So probably more houses should have active ventilation. But if you don't have active ventilation in a house, I think 0.35 ACH is a reasonable average. Apartment buildings will have active ventilation and higher occupant density, so the ACH will generally be higher, as you point out.

MERV Filters for Covid?

Yes - it is quite leaky - the rule of thumb the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers for low rise residential is more like 0.3 ACH. This would make your filtration look a lot better. 

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