Quarantined With A Good Book

The corona virus quarantine has given us all the chance to do some reading, if reading is one’s thing, as I hope it is for readers of this post. I bought Our House is On Fire, (1) and closely read it in two days. Note the red tags marking what I found to be particularly interesting passages. Lots of them. It’s an easy read, constructed as a series of short scenes that help focus attention on the matter at hand.

I am hoping that members of my family will read this book, as well, with the red tags in place. Perhaps adding their own yellow, pink, or blue tags.

There are many powerful lessons between these covers. Lessons about the scope of climate change, yes, but also lessons about heroic parenthood. Lessons about cultural changes required to save our environment (there is no other way). Lessons about the power of sticking to a commitment in the face of adversity in the family and in the world in which we live.

I have said in earlier posts that management of the global climate crisis is not an economic matter – except that it is a new economic opportunity. It’s not old economy before new ecology, because, believe me, if our leaders continue to take that approach, as Greta Thunberg and her family know, as careful thinkers know, as scientists know, both will come tumbling down in a sudden, violent, and unstoppable human disaster. Our House Is On Fire does not seek to show a hopeful outcome with respect to global warming. That’s the approach contemporary politicians tend to take. Our House Is On Fire is alarmist, as it should be.

Hope you read it.

-George

  1. https://www.alibris.com/booksearch?keyword=our+house+is+on+fire&mtype=B&hs.x=0&hs.y=0

First 12 Month Legacy House Energy Results

The first 12 month’s energy consumption and cost numbers are tallied. While I was disappointed with the raw percentage solar, the projected annual cost came in just a little higher than expected for the house. The HERS (1) estimate was $950, and we ended up at $1058.67. But — (and BIG but) that annual cost includes one year of driving our electric car. Because the HERS calculations on our basis document do not include a car, as nearly as I can figure we are doing better than expected on total building energy useage, which I really thought we would. The data is below.

We do have Sense monitoring equipment on the house and on the garage, so it is possible to make an educated guess on the amount of power being used by the car. An educated guess only because the Sense gear cannot combine data from the two devices and only one of them is tracking the 20 solar panels. Very confusing. I do not recommend Sense for anything but simple single sensor installations. In any case, if we throw out the solar assuming that it was split proportionally between the car and the house, the educated guess is that the car is using about 1/3 of our juice. If that is so, the house annual energy bill is about $705 and the car annual energy bill is about $353.

The spreadsheet above shows that winter energy consumption is higher, and that central Ohio is a cloudy place during fall and winter. No big surprise on either point. We had originally planned for 24 solar panels, and that might have been a better choice, but we thought we’d wait and see how things panned out. I think we’ll wait another year before putting panels on the main house (just on the garage, now). If we do that we’ll probably go to 28.

We have made some other little changes that may show up in the next 12 months. The hybrid water heater has recently been switched from hybrid operation to heat pump only operation. We see no difference in hot water availability, and that should reduce power use. We have also switched to a renewable power generation supplier. That lowered supply costs a bit and makes us totally renewable.

-George

The Legacy House Project Wins An Award

On Thursday, February 13th, 2020, AEP and Efficiency Crafted Homes held their annual awards ceremony in Columbus, Ohio. Our builder, Dan Troth, on the right above, of GreenTech Construction (1) had the honor of taking home four awards. The one we were most interested in was for our house, Lowest HERS Score Including Renewables, (solar panels, in our case) with a HERS Score of 16. Lower is better, 100 is typical of a standard new home.

-George

  1. https://greentechconstruction.com

Climate Change Data

A few days ago I dug up some of the old global temperature files from a simple personal study I ran in 1987 and added data from 1988 to 2013. Even way back then in 1987 (and long before (1)), it was obvious that people were doing something to change the climate. That’s not surprising considering that we live in a thin haze much like a balloon’s skin, the chemistry of which we are changing with highly inefficient combustion engines, and into which we leak and dump gaseous waste.

Below, you’ll see a scatter chart of annual average temperatures in Buenos Aires from 1856 to 2016. Argentina has really good historical data.

Two things are clear to me. The first is that temperatures are rising. Temperatures are up over 2 degrees C since the mid 19th century. The second is that there is less variation from year to year starting in the 1940s or so. I don’t know what this means, but wonder if it has something to do with adding energy to a medium that really does not want to accept it. A form of thermal compressibility factor? Will we reach a point where something “snaps”? Or, maybe the instruments are better from the 1940s onward. Don’t know.

I have not included a lot of other information I collected in 1987. That included sunspot and UV radiation data that showed absolutely no correlation to temperature variations in Buenos Aires or anywhere else I looked. The sun is not causing the climate changes we are seeing now.

-George

  1. https://earthtalk.org/human-caused-global-warming/

12/18/2019 – Edited to change end year for temperature data.

Zero Energy Ready Home Certification

The Legacy House got its U.S. Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home (1) certification (dated August 1, 2019). That’s a recognition of the quality of the work done to build an efficient home. A standard new home has an HERS Index (2) rating of 100 or thereabouts. The Legacy House came in at 17. Lower is better, of course.

The certificate projects an annual energy cost of $950 and annual electricity savings of 27,934 kWh. Estimated CO2 reduction is 24.9 tons. We will watch it and see how accurate this information is.

  1. https://www.energy.gov/eere/buildings/zero-energy-ready-homes
  2. https://www.hersindex.com/

Drip Irrigation

At the Legacy House we are trying to be responsible about the use of energy and water. We have started installation of a drip irrigation system (1) for the lawn-free landscaping.

The drip lines in the image above will be covered by two to three inches of mulch. They are uncovered now until we are sure everything is working properly, as it seems to be.

There are long lists of advantages and disadvantages to drip irrigation. For us low water usage, low initial cost, and better weed control were the principle considerations.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drip_irrigation

The Legacy House

It has been over a year since I last posted on this blog. There are two reasons for that.

First, I was really getting down over the stuff I was constantly writing about Donald Trump and his henchmen and henchwomen. See what I mean? Just thinking about those folks drives me right into an intellectual quagmire that sucks the hip-boots of reason clean off my body.

Second, this blog is supposed to be about doing stuff that’s good for something, not fuming and writing about stuff that’s good for nothing (which isn’t actually doing anything, is it now?). Well, we have just finished a busy year of doing good stuff, and it’s time to clear out the bad vibes. Start over.

A bit over a year ago, June 20, 2018, we had finished digging a hole in the ground at Evans Farm (1) in central Ohio.

IMG_0620

We would plant a house there. They take about a year to grow, it seems, and we are now at harvest time.

Evans Farm is a New Urbanism (2) community, or will be when it fills in around us. It was the best place we could find to put our Legacy House. We wanted a site that would permit us to walk to shops, recreational facilities, the post office, schools, and the like. We wanted something closer to our neighbors. In the long-run, a community is not sustainable if it’s made up of nothing but quarter acre patches of grass upon which are planted  ticky-tacky houses serving as a motels for the folks inside. It’s not a community if you have to jump in the car to access all your services, if you never see the folks next door. It’s not emotionally healthy nor environmentally nor economically sound. We did not want to leave a quarter acre legacy to our family when times are-a-changing. So, we did something about that, and here is what grew in the hole we dug:

IMG_1934

There is still a bit of work to do, but we are happily ensconced here and all systems are go. The Legacy House is a 2500 square foot modern farmhouse. It’s big enough to live in, functional, practical, and pleasant. Just what it needs to be, and not more. It is not a wasteful nor pretentious home, and it is ready for the 21st century.

The all-electric house stands over a ten foot Superior Walls (3) precast wall basement. The envelope is a SIPs (4) system. The walls are made of eight and six inch panels, and the roof is made of ten inch panels. The triple pane windows are by Marvin. Primary HVAC is a Mitsubishi two zone air-sourced heat pump. (6) The garage roof supports 20 LG360Q1C-A5 solar panels with Enphase IQ7+ inverters (7200 Watts). (7) Electricity costs for the last quarter came to $76.38 (including the Tesla Model 3 in the garage).

The Legacy House builder was Dan Troth of Greentech Construction. (8) He is presently rebuilding his web site, so be patient.

There will be many more posts about this building in the future. It’s great to be writing about doing things.

  1. https://www.evansfarmoh.com/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Urbanism
  3. https://www.superiorwalls.com/
  4. https://www.sips.org/about/what-are-sips
  5. https://www.marvin.com/
  6. https://www.mitsubishicomfort.com/products/outdoor-units/multi-zone-cooling-and-heating/compare
  7. https://www.lg.com/us/business/solar-panels/lg-LG360Q1C-A5
  8. https://greentechconstruction.com/