Mill Creek NetZero Home, December 15, 2009, 14:00.
As we approach the winter solstice and the three-month anniversary of our moving in, we continue to learn about our new house. These observations are mostly qualitative, because we don’t have the rest of our solar modules up, and we haven’t set up monitoring equipment yet. We are tentatively planning to remove the door of our wood stove on July 1st, 2010 and then monitor the house’s energy use for a year.
- we’ve been burning more wood that I thought we would (remember, we believe the house to require net zero energy without wood heat). When it’s minus 25 out (or minus 46), we have a fire for about four hours in the evening. Our electric baseboard heaters are set to 15 degrees overnight, (That’s not as uncomfortable as it sounds. It feels like 17 degrees did in our old house; chilly but fine for sleeping) and when we get up in the morning we start a fire right away to warm up the house. We can easily burn three armfuls of 16” long two-by-fours in a 24 hour period.
- The house requires zero added heat when it’s sunny, no matter the temperature. We’ve sat comfortably at noon on a –28 degree day without the heat on.
- The solar PV modules and hot water collectors get covered with snow. The movable solar awnings that we’ll be adding will solve that problem for two thirds of our modules. Even for the fixed collectors and modules though, the snow falls and melts off at the first sign of a warmish sunny day. Here is the house today:
Mill Creek NetZero Home, December 17, 2009, 14:50.
- At this time of year we only get 4-5 hours of heat-giving sunlight per day. The first warm rays of sunshine enter the house at 9:30ish, and by three o’clock the lower windows are already mostly shaded by the garage and the trees across the alley (see above picture). The upper windows are shaded an hour later.
- We fired up our solar hot water system sometime in cloudy October. It heated up to a high of 41 degrees C by November 18, down to 32 degrees on November 29, and 22 degrees today. Even at 22 (in a basement that’s only about 10 degrees right now) it is contributing to our hot water as the electric hot water tank heats it to 50 degrees.
- Our total utility bill was $64 in November, exclusive of water (they’re not metering it yet). That was entirely made up of fixed charges for garbage pickup and grid connectivity.
Merry Christmas everyone!