Second month update (living in a high performance house)

I’m over due for a performance update. been busy doing the things that make a house live able, shelves; hanging clocks and pictures; setting up the garage;………… I just got the basement work shop functional but lots of work still do down there.

Now after living in the house for two and a half months, all I can say is wow. This concept, and it is still only a concept, it amazes me on how well it works.   The second month’s electrical usage was 628kWh which is 42% of the last house’s usage for the same period last year, and the old house had a gas hot water heater.  I’m guessing my big ticket item for usage is my 52″ plasma TV which is on about 4 hours or less a day.

My number 1 goal was a comfortable house. At this point that goal has been achieved. In the heat wave of mid August, 90 to 95 highs for a week, with the index above 110. Testing all the combination I could, it turns out the mini-split in the great room can cool the whole first floor.  I turn it on between 8 to 9AM and off between 9 to 10PM.  Over night the house will hold it temperature or  if I vent the windows lower to the outside temp.  The is 1 9,000 btu, 30.5 SEER is cooling the 1640 sqft area of the first floor.  The early modeling didn’t project that that would happen. I’m guessing that in heat mode it will do the same.

The basement:  many said I was NUTS with my salutation to insulate the basement, but it just made sense to my limited knowledge of physics. A technician working on the hot water heater said “This basement is amazingly warm, and dry”.  When I walk down the cellar steps the basement is noticeably warmer the first floor.  Because of the thermal mas of the interior wall it changes the temperature  very slowly. One worry was the heat exchanger  hot water heater would  pull the basement’s temp down. So far it doesn’t.  Again wanting to see what winter brings.

In September it finally cooled down, 70s during the day & 55-65 at nights.  We find leaving the windows in vent mode over night and closing it up from around 8 AM to 10 PM the house’s temperature would very from 68 to 72 degrees.  If the house was around 70 at 5:00 it would go up a degree or two by just living in the house.  It feels just our bodies in the bedroom will push the temperature up over night.  Both my wife and I feel the house wants to heat it’s self.  Today, 10/6, I was out all morning. Out side air temp was 55 to a nice 68, when I went in the house felt warm, so I opened some windows.

The second goal was spaceial comfort. That was achieved too.  My wife and I drew up the floor plan to meet what we thought our space needs were, then gave our drawings to our architect Jim Wentling, to make it work as a house. To make the pieces work we added space as needed.  We eventually turned the kitchen around and opened the wall to the great room.  And it all works as we wanted it to.  We wouldn’t change a thing.

Third goal is energy efficiency. We  won’t know for sure until we are in for a year but it looks like we will use between 6,000 to 7,000 kWh for a full year.  I was waiting for a year so I could be sure to size the solar system to match our usage, since NJ is not a Net Meter state, and I won’t get paid for over production.  But I’m comfortable we will be under that 7,000 kWh, and why waist a year so I’m installing a solar system starting this weekend.  See up and coming blog entries.


Living in the woods is

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