Rich and Margie's Web Pages
This website shows the our energy efficient house, PV electric system and solar hot water systems. All done to make our house comfortable and as energy efficient as possible.
We started with an energy efficient house. Since we could not buy one we had to build one. Bruce from Adirondack Alternate Energy has been designing energy efficient houses for decades. AAE really has analyzed and figured out the best way to build a very nice and comfortable house that is easy to heat and cool. The house features a passive solar design with the ability to store heat for use during the night. Much thought to the layout of the building gave more usable space in a smaller footprint.
Next was the PV system. With the 70% rebate the state of NJ was offering, it was hard to say no. We decided to use dual axis trackers to maximize the state's rebate dollars. It worked out quite well. The installed cost was no more than a standard roof installation but with the trackers providing for a substantial increase in PV power over a fixed array. Between the electrical power produced and the SREC income from the state's SREC program, the payback period was an amazingly short 3 years and 9 months.
The last project is the solar hot water heater. Plumbing is not my strong point so this was hired out to supposed experts. They worked hard I have to say but unfortunately they made some mistakes. It passed the code inspections but did not work too well. The design flaws were discovered and corrected and at the same time two more evacuated tube collector arrays were added and a PEX loop into the garage and PEX loop to a radiator in the solar heat air hander in the house. I could not find any reasonably priced solar hot water controller to turn on the 2 pumps and 5 zone valves as needed so I made a controller using an Atmel processor. The controller has a web server interface that allows temperature data to be collected on a laptop.
Our house is net zero energy now. We produce all the energy our house uses onsite. Our energy costs have gone down from approximately $1800 per year to $100 per year with the PV system to $0 with the hot water system. Hopefully, someday, we will be able to get rid of the internal combustion engines in our cars and drive non-poluting electric cars which are charged by our PV system. But most importantly we are driving less and less. Batching trips together and re-using and recycling right here at home so we don't need to buy new things. Almost everything gets repaired or restored to working condition as needed and all products are analyzed for their utility, longevity and eventual end-of-life disposal before they are bought. This really limits where and what we buy.
From a speech by Jimmy Carter June 20, 1979 on the day solar hot water panels were installed on the White House.
"A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people - harnessing the power of the sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil."
U.S. President Jimmy Carter, June 20, 1979
Scrawny the chicken. Cluck, Cluck