I wanted to take some time and share with everyone my electric bill. “Brag” about how low it is might be a better way to put it. As you can see in the graph I use approximately 3.5 kWh per day which works out to be an average monthly consumption of just over 100 kWh per month. Not too bad, eh? Especially, when you compare that to the average U.S. household which has monthly rate of 600 kWh.
So before I go into more detail about what I do (and more importantly what I don’t do) I want to briefly explain my living situation. I live in a very small 3 bedroom ranch with just myself and my 5 year old daughter, who is only there half of the week. I don’t have any renewable energy systems because I am just renting at the moment. What I do is all of the little things to save electricity. That is the message that I want to get across in this blog post; that the little things matter!
Here in New England many home owners have their own source of wood they can use to heat their home. Or, they may decide that local wood or pellets can replace fossil fuels helping them achieve a level independence from foreign oil.
Working with a few of these customers, I have had the opportunity to put together combination wood and solar heating systems for both home heating and domestic hot water.
I recently got a call from someone who is building a new house and wanted to know what kinds of things they should consider to be as self-sustainable and as fossil fuel free as possible.
This was the third person I’ve talked to in the last couple of weeks so I thought it was a good topic for a blog post. Also, I’m hopeful that this means the economy is starting to turn around and people are finding the money to invest in their homes.
IT is energy efficient and can save you money. It is a good investment and can help the environment. It leads to less dependence on foreign oil and provides self-sustainability.
IT is renewable energy — solar, wind, water, or the earth’s warmth.
In my local paper the other day there was a story about a guy that burns coal for heating his home in NH. It was an interesting story for two reasons: 1) because not many people burn coal in New England and 2) because he was told (or was under the impression) that he was burning “clean coal”.
The implication was that his coal stove was not as polluting as the next guy’s. More importantly, the price of coal today is low enough that he was saving money by burning coal over his oil backup furnace.
I am 32 years old and it seems like my whole life I have heard that we are running out of oil. It wasn’t until college that I truly understood how heavily the world relies on oil. This is also when I first heard the term “peak oil”. Read more
SolarNovus Today is a website about “what really matters in the Solar industry today”. They recently did a “Case Studies and Solar Solutions” article on my house renovation, 78 Main St, Enfield, NH.
You can get the link here: Renovation Showcases Solar Potential. In case the link doesn’t work, here is a PDF Solar Solution – Renovation showcases solar potential of the article.
I have had a number of interesting conversations with RV owners who would like to add solar power to their roving homes. In many ways a solar powered RV is like an off-grid cabin or home. The owner would like to be able to recharge batteries when the sun is shining and probably has a secondary or alternative power source for multiple cloudy days in a row or when they want to use a more significant source of power.
For an RV owner, the alternative can be a small mobile generator, or they can find a camp ground with power hook-up. If they want to cook or microwave the dinner while watching the game on TV or power wash the van, they will find an additional source of power to supplement their batteries. Most of the time they can live with the power that the sun can provide in a day.
Green Living Journal published the story I wrote entitled “One Woman’s Journey to a Zero Energy Building”. I like how they advertised it on the cover (My Zero Net Energy Home) and put it out in Left Field
Click here if you would like to read it. I added some pictures in the blog post version. They didn’t have room for many pictures in the journal.
If you have been trying to keep up with what is happening in the world of solar photovoltaics (Solar PV or solar electric systems), you may have heard about microinverters, or small inverters.
In a traditional solar electric system the solar panel produces a DC (direct current) signal when the sun shines on it. Our homes are generally wired for AC (alternating current). The Inverter is the device that converts the DC signal to AC.
The simplest solar electric system consists of an array of solar panels all wired together and then wired to a central (fairly large) inverter which converts the DC to AC and “ties” that signal into your utility company’s grid connection.
Microinverters are small inverters that are attached to each solar panel, so that there is no need for a large inverter. Also, each solar panel acts independently so if one is shaded, the others are not affected. In a traditional system, the solar panels are wired together in series (typically 8-12) and if one module of that series gets shaded, the output from the whole series is reduced.