Welcome to John Avenson's world of Solar information in Pictures. Click tabs at left for pictures and info. (Updated July 22, 2013, see Insulation tab for latest)
See live site at: (updated every 2 minutes for power export or import. Lower portion is historical, example click on week or year)http://view2.fatspaniel.net/FST/Portal/SolSource/seri/HostedEndUserView.html
VIDEO Tour_of_the_House (move down the site half way) = http://www.brownongreen.net/2010/12/energy-efficiency-inspired-by-the-jetsons-and-the-anasazi.html from reporter Jerry Brown on mulitple energy conservation subjects.
RADIO INTERVIEW of John - Dec 13 2011: http://www.springsradiorealestate.com/2011/12/13/passive-solar-and-estate-planning/ My interview starts at 7 minutes into recording.
LIVE SITE Note: If there is no power production, then look at the Sun meter ICON: cloudy day = 0 to 300, sunny day = 700 to 1200 (watts per meter squared) or snow packed = zero!
Note: from Fatspaniel.com home page, click on "Live Sites" to see homes from all over the USA.
All life is a competition for energy:
The use of Renewable Energy is a great stewardship toward providing clearner air and leaving our earth a better place for our children. Germany leads the world.
- Pocket more of your hard earned money by making wise decisions in your purchases that need energy Examples: 1) Efficient home, 2) Daily used transportation including bicycles and high miles p/g hybrid cars and electric cars such as the Tesla Model-S.
Email at: email@example.com
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FOR LATEST RESEARCH IN HOME BUILDING See: http://www.phaus.org/learn/passive-house-education/what-is-passive-house- and: http://www.passivehouse.us/passiveHouse/PHIUSHome.html for further education and training classes for energy efficient, logical home construction standards.
This 1981 passive/active solar heated home contained the latest in Energy conservation techniques published by SERI, now NREL in 1981. It was designed with the assistance of SERI (Solar Energy Research Institute, set up by President Jimmy Carter). In 2013, it is still technically ahead of the average home built today.
TOUR and Experience LIVE: To foster the continued building of green built homes and experience energy conservation tips "seen live", I invite individuals or groups up to ~60 folks, at any time of the year. You can even talk to the house computer "Rex" who controls "almost" everything!
SERI (Solar Energy Research Institute) was renamed to NREL (National Renewable Energy Labs) in 1991 by U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). NREL is located west of Denver, CO at I-70 and Denver West Blvd. NREL has a visitor's center open to the public. At the VC you will find the latest solar documentation, building construction, and demonstrations of renewable energy. See http://www.nrel.gov/
VOLUNTEER: I am a member of CRES (Colorado Renewable Energy Society) which is a chapter of ASES (American Solar Energy Society) which is a chapter of ISES (International Solar Energy Society, formed in 1954 when "Bell Labs" invented the first practical solar Photovoltaic cell. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_cell
MY GOAL: Educate the public about energy conservation and green living with Solar, to preserve mother earth with loving passion, and eliminate the use of our limited fossil fuels.
E-STAR HOME ENERGY AUDIT: The best place to start reducing your energy bills is to request a Home Energy Audit. Google for Home Energy Audit to find the service in your zip code area. A typical cost is about $400 -600 and well worth the education about your home. Xcel Energy subsidized = $130
My E-Star rating, May of 2007 came in at an energy conserving value of 26. In January 2010, after upgrading the entire home with "Dense Pack Cellulouse, the rating is HERS E-STAR = 23 due to even less air leakage.
A Zero rating (out of 500) is considered a net-zero home. By comparison, many new "energy efficient" homes by commercial builders are rated between 50 to 90 and loosely built older homes may rate at 180 - 200. An energy efficient home has very low or no monthly energy bills saving the owner a greater portion of their monthly income to go towards the mortgage payment or luxury. See the E-Star certificate in the "Pictures of ~" tab.
In 1982, this Home's "SOLAR READY" features included:
1) Southern oriented roof surface for future solar panels (when owner can afford)
2) Southern oriented window glazing with limited window glazing to the west and east and VERY limited window glazing to the north. In the winter, thermal and Low-E windows are like holes in the wall when it is zero degrees outside. This plan resembles the way civilizations lived hundreds of years ago in cliff dwellings taking advantage of the sun's warmth.
3) Thermal mass is abundant inside the house to reduce the thermal swings from day and night time. This house contains interior brick walls and a "rock box". The rock box is a 5X5 foot by 10 foot tall box full of 2 inch diameter rounded river rock. The rounded rock allows solar heated air to flow freely through the rocks, warming them by day and radiating their heat at night time. The back-up gas furnace does not have to run much during the winter.
4) Southern roof has no plumbing protrusions on the southern surface to interfere with a most efficient layout of solar panels.
5) Hollow Exterior chases at the west and east siding from roof to ground allow working room for future contractors to run wires or pipes using almost no unsightly conduit.
6) Pre-wired for electric window shades. With pre-wiring, the owner can add motorized window shades when they can afford it. Many solar homes of the late 1970s used electric "Window Quilts" a multi layered blanket to cover and insulate the windows. NOTE: My windows shades are activated by the weather. They are 3 mil thick silver Mylar and translucent allowing a day lit room when down.. When cloudy on a cold winter day, the shades go down to keep the room heat in and they go up when the sun is ready to come through the window.
7) Southern windows will have roof overhangs to shade the windows from the summer sun and heat from May through August.
8) Exterior walls are extra thick to preserve the interior heat
9) An open floor plan allows day-lighting to light up most rooms. I never need to turn on a light for breakfast..
10) House Air exchanges per hour are greatly reduced by: A) Wood framing is sealed to the cement foundation, B) Just before the windows were installed, a bead of expanding foam was sprayed on all 4 surfaces to lock out air leaks, C) chimney tube chase and other plumbing were sealed from air flowing from one floor to the next using fiberglass insulation and silicone caulking.
11) The cement foundation was insulated from the cold dirt by installing Styrofoam between the cement and the dirt. This allows the foundation to become part of the heat storage mass. NOTE: Whereas this new concept was completed in 1982, today the thickness and quality of the Styrofoam used would be a much better R factor preventing cold from gradually defeating my thin insulation by January.
I've optimized my home for greater energy savings by doing some low cost weekend fix-it projects and some high cost additions:
First have a Home Energy auditor give the house an E-Star rating. If the auditor comes on a cold day, the owner can find all the cold air leaks in the home such as electrical outlets and wall switches. The auditor will put a fan on your door and attempt to suck the air out of the house. This "blower door" test simulates a 21 to 24 mi per hour wind outside.
Make a paper list of all the air leaks found and spend the NEXT COUPLE YEARS caulking and weather stripping the leaks. This includes the attic access, dryer and bathroom fan vents that leak between their edges and the outer siding, natural gas pipes exiting the house and caulk all electrical boxes where the wire enters the rear. Electric boxes will find air passages to the attic or basement creating cold air flows.
1) Silicone caulk all air leaks including the rear of electrical boxes where the Romex wire enters the rear of the box and caulk the front surface circumference that mates to the sheetrock. Also caulk any beams that protrude through the walls.
2) Changing old light switches and outlets to new Z-wave radio controlled devices allows the owner to control all lights and appliance in the house from a remote control. The controller can automatically turn the lights off every morning after sun rises. Your car's garage door button options can turn the lights on at night time.
3) Z-wave or IR controlled window shade motors can automatically raise the shades up in the morning and down in the evening saving on heat bills by allowing the sun to shine in or prevent heat from escaping in the night.
4) By adding HOMESEER computer software, turn your own home into a smart home and save more energy. REASON: A human can not possibly know the "optimum" time to raise a shade for example but with Thermal inputs, HomeSeer can. Also, with Z-Wave triple play wireless motion sensors, HomeSeer knows where in the house your are, or if someone is at the front door. The sensors also inform HomeSeer of the temperature and the lumens of light in the room. All your many "TV/DVD infrared remote controls" and Z-wave light switches can be automated by motion, voice, low lumens, time of day, or weather and temperature. This uses a dedicated laptop, desktop computer or best of all, a very low wattage computer direct from http://www.homeseer.com/.
With HomeSeer, lights and shades can be triggered by the weather outside, and EVERYTHING CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED WITH YOUR VOICE including the home heating or coffee pot or hear the temperature outside. At my house, I tell my computer, "Rex, Let's watch a DVD" and everything turns on, or Rex, " I'm home" and the lights come on, or "Rex, Temperature" to hear the temperature at any location.
HomeSeer moves your house from the 20th century to the 21st century. My house is like living in Star Trek as Captain Kirk of the house. Wireless mikes pick up my voice for the monitoring computer to hear (just like "Hal" in 2001 A Space Odyssey).
5) PV: In June 2006, electric PV (Photo Voltaic) solar panels were added to the southern roof by: http://www.solsourceinc.com/staff.htm . There are twenty eight 170 watt panels for a total peak rating of 4.7 kw. On a sunny winter day the panels will produce up to about 3,800 watts at any given second and about 2.5 kilowatt "hours" of electricity. This reduces the monthly $80 electric bill down to about $10 -15. The number or hours produced in the summer is more due to longer days allowing a negative bill to the power company which will be returned to me in 'credits' on future monthly bills. (Now my challenge is to make my daily electricity usage less and get to net zero for the whole year.)
6) HEATING: To augment winter space heating, two new hot air solar panels called "Solarsheat" were added also by www.SolSpource.com (for details see: http://www.yoursolarhome.com) to the southern basement walls at the sidewalk level. These hot air panels are a great addition to any home that does not have solar input on the south side. They can create a solar house out of a non solar house. You can turn the heat on and off with the supplied thermostat.
One panel will raise a 12x12 room up 10 degrees (from 62 to 72) on a sunny Colorado day. They take room conditioned ~65 degree air out to the panel and return the air back into the room at ~150 degrees. The amount of air flow is similar to a bathroom fan. The fan is solar powered and therefore the heat is totally free.
7) Three SolaTubes (10 inch diameter) were added by http://www.skylightsofcolorado.com/ to provide day lighting to a dark hallway and bathroom. The cheerfully lit area from the sun can create whole attitude changes to the living space. (If I were to do this again, I would have chosen 14 inch diameter to double the light allowing for cloudy days) The Solatubes have a lighting kit inside which means they can replace the hallway light at night time. In the bathroom the SolaTube also has a fan kit in addition to the lighting kit. The old bathroom fan was therefore replaced by a Solatube with a fan and light.
8) LIGHTING: Change all light bulbs to LED or second best: Compact Fluorescent bulbs. My home is 95% LED. Bulbs are reasonably priced at HomeDepot and Lowes. I always go for the brightest bulb I can fit in the fixture.
9) INSULATION and LEAKAGE: "Dense Pack" Cellulose Insulation tightens the house leakage and upgrades the old fiberglass insulation. Reduce your furnace usage by 1/4 or more. In the Denver Metro area, contact BestWay Insulation. http://www.bestwayinsulation.com/
10) INSULATION CEMENT FOUNDATION 2012-13: Increased the original exterior foam from 1 inch (R4) to 4 inches of PolyIso (R27). See side tab: Insulation
SEE THIS HOME's USAGE LIVE AT FATSPANIEL.COM :
The attached link below will show my Solar PV Panel electrical output. It will change from "Import" to "Export" depending on the amount of sun shining on the PV (Photo Voltaic) panels and deducting how much the house is using at the moment.
The panels send excess electricity to Xcel public service during the day and then draw the electricity back at night time. When excess electricity is being produced, the meter is running backward. Excess created at the end of the month will be purchased by Xcel as credits towards future bills. This is called NETMETERING.
WEB: The upper portion data is updated every two minutes. If I turn on the stove, the watts will jump up 1000 watts. The lower portion is historical: Click on week, month, year or lifetime to see past history. The orange bars are what I use and the green bars are what the PV are making.
OTHER IMPROVEMENTS THAT COULD ADD VALUE when able to afford:
1) Furnaces from 10 years ago and older are not as fuel efficient as recent years. New ~95 to 99% percent efficient furnaces no longer use a traditional chimney and no longer use "room air" to burn the fire. They pull combustion air through a dedicated pipe directly from out doors. Their high efficiency pulls so much of the heat from the flame side chamber over to the house side chamber for heating, that the chimney is no longer hot and hardly even warm! This allows the old fashioned chimney to now be a small PVC exhaust pipe sending the exhaust directly to outside (usually to the side of the house)..
2) Wind Turbines ((catchy nick name: Urban Turbine) are becoming economically feasable. The retail price, including an inverter is less then $4,000 not including the electrician labor etc. see www.mariahpower.com for a picture that will surprise you! NOTE: WIND TURBINES (for bang for the buck) REQUIRE ABOUT 1 MILE FREE OF OBSTRUCTIONS SUCH AS HOMES AND TREES TO BECOME ECONOMICAL WITH ENOUGH WIND FORCE TO KEEP THE BLADES UP TO SPEED. Unless you are in a wind concentrated valley, MONEY IS BETTER SPENT ON PV Solar Panels and insulation etc.
ENJOY!Harvest the sun as much as you can to help the world become independent of fossil fuels.