Solarfest was a lot of fun this year! I learn so much from the attendees and the other vendors. It is an important part of my renewable energy continuing education.
This year I learned about fixed magnet versus electromagnet motors (as used in wind or water turbines) and how to provide appropriate electrical circuits to support them. I learned a few more good uses for composting toilets and backyard garden composters based on what people are actually doing with these products. I got the answer to a question that one of my customer’s had about his grid-tied battery backup system that didn’t always sell all his solar power back to the grid. And I heard a few more interesting ways that people are making their own hot water batch heaters.
The Grand Re-Opening of Energy Emporium was a lot of fun last weekend! Thanks to everyone who helped cook, clean, entertain, and, most of all, to those who came! I think we had between 70-80 people. At times the parking lot and the store inside were both jammed.
As a kind of self-guided tour, I put up bulletin boards of pictures around the store. Here is a link to the “Renovation Tour“.
Cluttered Store (before picture)
Since I moved into the new store I’ve had to plan and re-plan the layout as it was not obvious to me how people would enter and move around in this new space.
My first store was basically a small rectangle of space and I put my desk at one end. That served pretty well for chatting with customers, register check-out area for buying things, and an office work space with easy access to files, catelogs and reference materials from many vendors. It was small enough that there really weren’t many choices for layout.
The New Energy Emporium
I think the title of this blog is a little optimistic, perhaps wishful thinking. If the definition of “finished” includes all items have been moved to the new place and boxes unpacked… then I’m not really finished at all. In my case I still have store items in the old store and home items in the container outside…so there is quite a bit of work still left to do.
But…symantics aside…I am now working and living in my new digs at 78 Main St! So, for all intents and purposes I am moved in. And it is great to have a place to call home!
As is probably the case with many big renovation projects, we went a little over budget so I took on a few of the finishing projects myself with quite a bit of help from my brother-in-law, Jared, and his friend, Jeff (thanks so much, guys!).
About 5 years ago I made the switch from Windows to Mac. Like many people I was taken by the ease of use, the style, the look and feel, and the functionality. The techie in me had been hesitating for years because, though I liked the creative programs (iPhoto, garage band, iTunes), I didn’t need them… I needed to be able to run business software and some very engineering specific programs (and some games) that weren’t available on the Mac. So I got an iMac for home use. My business machines were still windows.
About 2 years ago, while working for OLPC (One Laptop per Child) I was given the choice and I thought it was good time to see if I could use the MacBook Pro laptop for my work machine. Since then I have had very little reason to go back to windows.
Clear Mountain Solar
I’m very excited to announce the merging of two USA Solar Stores — Enfield Energy Emporium and Clear Mountain Solar
in Claremont, NH! The last few weeks have been both fun and a bit stressful as we worked out the details of the transaction. Basically, “Energy Emporium” will be the parent company and both stores will continue to provide products and information to their communities with a focus on renewable energy products, conservation, efficiency, measurement and education.
Enfield Energy Emporium
Clear Mountain Solar has been in business for about 2 and half years and has proven that there is great interest and a market for these products. They bring great experience in both sales and installations. Energy Emporium opened up last April to provide similar services about 30 miles north of Claremont. Our expertise has been in business, marketing and communications. It’s great when you can join talents that complement each other!
Both stores were, and still are, members of the USA Solar Store buyers group. Over the next few weeks we will merge logos, websites, marketing materials and try to take advantage of combined inventory, sales, and advertising.
There is a very nice picture and story in the Upper Valley Life magazine that just came out: Sept/Oct 2009. I was really excited to be chosen as one of the four businesses they wanted to highlight for their article “The Secret to Success in Business
“. Jon Gilbert Fox
did a really nice job of the photo!
The article features two older businesses (more than 20 years) and two new businesses (less than 1 year). It is fun to read the opinions on the ‘secret’ to good business.
Having only been open for 6 months, I am not yet qualified to say what HAS BEEN successful for my business, but I know what I want to focus on in order to achieve success: Customer Service.
BTUs from the Sun
At the end of last week we had a good meeting with Murphy’s Cell-Tech, our energy consultant, who has done the thermal modeling for our house to determine the number of BTUs entering and leaving. The people involved in the model included experts in insulation, thermal seal of the building, heating systems, air ventilation, and renewable energy sources.
The basic idea is to use the sun to fill (heat) a storage tank in the ground with the amount of BTUs that will be required all winter to keep the house warm. The better insulated and air tight the house is, the fewer BTUs that will be needed to keep the house warm. To ensure healthy air quality, there will be a heat exchanger ventilation system which is always drawing in air from outside, pre-heated by the warm air from inside that is on its way out.
My store is in a multi-use building with apartments overhead. The other day the apartment above my store somehow developed a cracked toilet tank and it flooded my ceiling tiles, which probably held out for all of 5 minutes before many of them came down bringing a lot of water with them.
From what we understand there was no noise involved in this to wake anyone up, so the toilet simply continued to try to fill the tank… which continued pouring water into my store.
78 Main St, Enfield, is our zero energy building project – the future home of the Enfield Energy Emporium and my family residence. The blogs that include ’78 Main’ in the title document the design, construction, and progress of the renovation of a 150 year building to a zero or near-zero energy building. To see all of these blogs click here: 78 Main.
Our property borders the Mascoma River just before it empties into Mascoma Lake. The river splits around an island that once housed a tannery. There are some foundation stones left from that time, but today there are no buildings. The Enfield Village Association (EVA) added some picnic benches and seats, but otherwise the island is a quiet refuge of trees, animals and a nature walk. The pictures in this blog include the island, the Mascoma river, and the bridge between the main land and the island.