Any day now we will begin installation of a 4.5 kW photovoltaic solar system on our roof with my company Sandri Energy. In order to get more sun for the system (and meet minimum state rebate requirements) we pruned our silver maple tree. To do the work we had John D. and his friend Gordon return to help us out. Spartan was up on the roof directing which branches to cut John was in the tree and Gordon worked on the ground. We cut 3 medium sized limbs. The amount of sun hitting the westerly part of the roof went from 69% to 81%. Overall, it is difficult to notice any difference to the canopy.
I recently watched this TED talk entitled How to Grow Fresh Air. It has significant implications for our existing buildings that have poor air quality and for our new buildings that are being built to super-tight standards. If the power goes out and we are relying on our HRV’s and our ERV’s to bring us our healthy air Kamal Meattle says that we can rely on these three house plants to sustain us:
- Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens) – Turns CO2 into O2 during the daytime
- Mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) – Turns CO2 into O2 during the night time
- Money plant (Epipremnum aureum) Removes – VOC’s
Some photographs of the first floor:
It is about time that there was a comprehensive stat sheet for our home on the blog. The stats include all of the data needed to energy model our home. It will serve as an excellent learning resource as well.
Check out the stats page: https://spartanandhannah.wordpress.com/home-statistics/
We have now been living in our home for over one year. Our home is completely run by electricity provided by WMECO, so this report is pretty easy.
Total energy usage from 2-10-2012 through 2-12-2013: 4197 kWh
Total cost: $701.96
Average temperature as reported by WMECO: 50 dgr F
Heating Degree Days base 63F: 5564
2012 was a leap year.
For whatever reason WMECO is not consistent with when they bill out, causing the annual usage to be represented by 368 days.
Three occupants for the entire period.
Due to line loss, for every one watt consumed three watts need to be generated
Other data points and related anecdotes:
- For the winter, we have been happy with the heat pump set to 63 during the day and 59 at night.
- For some reason the heat pump will heat the house past what it is set to. So, assuming no solar gain, the house is usually a couple of degrees warmer than the heat pump setting–and the heat pump will come on before the temperature has fallen. The only explanation I have for this is either the heat pump infrared thermometer is reading window temperatures, or it is inaccurate. The HRV thermometer appears to be accurate.
- The house uses the first floor slab as a heat sink. During summer it keeps the home cool. Only after the heat wave, where the temperature was in the 90’s for 3 days straight, did I notice that the slab was warm.
- A couple of readings from the HRV (heat recovery ventilator) (dgrs F)
- 1/7/13 was sunny and in the low 40’s; the indoor temperature rose to 71. The night was in the upper teens, the heat was off, and we only dropped to 64 by 7:00am
- 1/3/13 Overnight was in the lower single digits, the heat pump was set to 63 and the indoor temperature was 62.
- The average humidity in the home so far this winter is around 40%
“In 2010, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 11,496 kWh […]. Tennessee had the highest annual consumption at 16,716 kWh and Maine the lowest at 6,252 kWh.” Source: http://www.eia.gov
Only 26% of US homes use electricity for heat. Source: http://visualeconomics.creditloan.com
My goal for next year is to be able to break down the usage into heating, cooling, cooking, refrigeration, ventilation, and hot water. This will require the installation of kilowatt meters by an electrician. The plug-in kind can only monitor the refrigeration and ventilation.
The total cost of construction from clearing land until we were able to move in was about $161,100.
The final cost of completion will probably be closer to $165,000 as there are many small things that still need to be done, (trim, painting the third floor room, kitchen counter top, closet doors etc.). Also, one must keep in mind that my labor was free as well as the help of many friends and family. We received $15,100 in rebates and tax incentives bringing the total cost down to $146,000. Our 1500 square foot (S.F.) house cost $97.30/SF to build.
Cost breakdown by type of expenditure
|Permits, fees, engineering||$4,490.70|
|Equipment and tool rental||$2,973.18|
|Trash, disposal costs||$384.61|
Cost breakdown by construction area
|Doors, windows, interior window trim, and extension jambs||$18,787.55|
|Insulation (labor & material, includes foundation insulation)||$15,946.51|
|Foundation for home and garage||$15,248.53|
|Siding, soffit, exterior trim||$13,965.51|
|Plumbing (labor and material)||$10,218.69|
|Roof (Material and labor both sheathing and metal)||$4,801.80|
|HRV & Ductwork (material only, no labor cost)||$2,793.22|
|Paint (labor and material)||$2,738.45|
|Heat pump (material and labor)||$2,600.00|
|Tiling bathroom and kitchen counter||$1,353.52|
|Create lumber from trees from site||$740.36|
|Solar hot water (after rebates and incentives)||$269.45|
We have made a bunch of updates to the blog:
- A new look and organization that better suits our content
- An interactive timeline page that covers the inception of our project in 2009 through occupancy in 2012
- A brief index of links to assist learning about particular construction topics that are otherwise scattered throughout the blog
- The final architectural plans featuring complete models of every wall in the house