Posted by: Scott McCullough | February 24, 2016

Net Zero

We’ve finally been able to make it through an entire year with a negative net usage of electricity. As of right now we have 309 kWh left in our utility ‘bank’ after 12 billing cycles.  Our electric utility New Hampshire Electric Cooperative has some new online electrical usage tracking features.  It has allowed us to review our usage and figure out when higher loads are occurring.

nhec
The first major improvement to our electrical usage was the installation of the Nyle Geyser heat pump to provide us with domestic hot water.  We did this back in the summer of 2014, and have had dramatic reduction in electrical usage ever since.

What has also been very helpful was our ability to rely entirely on our woodstove for heat throughout this winter, and avoiding the use of our radiant floors.  It’s been a mild winter here in New Hampshire, and because of that we haven’t even needed to run the woodstove every day.  When the sun comes out for a few hours the house is able to heat up enough and stay comfortable for several hours and sometimes through the night.  During a more severe winter I would anticipate that we could still avoid using the radiant floors and would just need have the woodstove running more consistently.

The one remaining area where we would like to improve is our clothes drying.  We currently have a conventional electric dryer that we use when we can’t use out outdoor clothes line.  Ideally we would purchase a new heat pump dryer.  Unfortunately the prices right now are way higher than we would be willing to pay.  As a bonus a heat pump dryer would allow us to eliminate the 6″ vent hole in our basement, which would help to keep the basement temperature up in the winter.

So we’ll see how the next year goes.  Around the beginning of March we expect to start building up our kWh credits due to longer days and higher sun angles.

 

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Responses

  1. Way to go Jess and Scotti! Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks Cheryl! I may be seeing you around town soon. Keep your eyes peeled.

  2. Hello, Scott, and CONGRATULATIONS for the focus on your wonderful home in Dwell! We visited your home, thanks to your generosity, well before we finished our Norwich, Vermont house. Amazingly, we were awarded Efficiency Vermont’s Better Buildings by Design best residential building award… check it out sometime! Just yesterday, we had a woman visiting us who is compiling materials for a book she’ll entitle “Our Hybrid Lives” and she asked me if we knew of anyone she also might interview for inclusion in her project. So I thought of you and your wife and your amazingly perfect home for this effort she’s making. Her name is Lyn Swett Miller, and she’ll be contacting you once I send her your information (here). I will also sincerely extend our invitation to visit us whenever you are up this way — we love showing like-minded folks our place!! –Kelley Hersey (& Fred Faudie, and our son Darius Faudie)

  3. Scott,
    First, terrific record of the process you went through during this whole project. Photos are great.
    Secondly, I am the new Marketing and Communication Manager for Thermomass, and I would love to put together a short case study of your project for other like-minded homeowners. Let me know if you would be open to helping with that project (e.g. answering a couple of questions I might have).
    Thanks!
    Bret

  4. I’ve enjoyed your thorough blog of the construction of your house. I came to it from the gba website and then overlapped with the Dwell article! Fantastic work. I’ve been super impressed with how much DIY work went into this house. Skills! We are embarking on the design phase of an energy efficient year round cabin in VT. Are you comfortable talking about what this cost you to build? I know at the beginning you mentioned some numbers and deciding to take a phased building approach. Do you have a sq. foot cost idea? Would love to get a recent reference point based in reality. Thanks!

    • Matt,

      Sorry for the late reply. Thanks for looking through the blog, glad you found it. It’s a rough estimate but we built the house for around $150/SF. Like you may have seen in the blog it was with a lot of labor on our part, and creative use of used or found materials. There are some ‘extras that we could have done without, but we thought were either important to the design or use of the house. Our building skills are actual pretty minimal, if we can do it anyone can.


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