Bernard Malin of Massachusetts is the owner of a residential “micro combined-heat-and-power” (micro-CHP) system, according to the Christian Science Monitor; the device combines an internal-combustion engine with a household natural gas furnace, and Malin saves about $600 to $800 in electricity costs annually. He started using his 1 kilowatt micro-CHP system in February of last year. Nicholas Lenssen of Energy Insights predicts that the system will be deployed more broadly in the United States within five to 10 years. Four kilowatt units are already available in Europe and Japan.

Micro-CHP systems currently cost from $13,000 to $20,000 for basic units, including installation. Executives at Climate Energy, a maker of micro-CHPs, estimate that the payback period for the devices will be three to seven years, depending on electricity costs. The firm anticipates installing some 200 systems in the New England area in 2007. By 2008, the company expects to have a model that can also serve as a backup power generator. The company’s CEO, Eric Guyer, said the technology can become more affordable if the firm can sell units to at least 1 percent of the 3 million homes that purchase furnaces annually. Jon Slowe at Delta Energy Environment forecasts that initially North American utilities will see micro-CHP as a threat. EC

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