Green Home Consulting

Our Green Home

DER Update

I work out of our family home in the heart of the village of Avon, NY. We have lived in this ca. 1899 home for the last 16 years or so. As we have remodeled and added on, we have incorporated many green home features and reduced our Natural Gas consumption by more than half. According to EnergyStar's Yardstick, our home now uses less energy than 98% of all homes in the country. And we are still working to do better!

In 2010 we decided to do a Deep Energy Retrofit. Basically we are trying to bring this old house as close to the Passive House standard as we can. To do this, we are removing the siding and adding 4" of board insulation. While we are at it, we will also be adding some new windows and doors. For "back up" heat, we have installed a super-efficient (SEER 26), affordable Air Source Heat Pump. The big goal is to halve again our heating requirements and stop using natural gas for heat.

Earlier upgrades include...

  • about 4000 watts of utility-intertied Photovoltaic (solar electric) panels with battery backup,
  • Shower drainwater heat exchanger,
  • solar hot water with tankless backup,
  • solar hot air,
  • inside storm windows,
  • cool white metal roof,
  • double walls in many rooms.

A passive-solar addition added to the back of the house features

  • super-insulation (double walls, R80 ceiling),
  • super windows (triple pane, u.19 = R5+),
  • thermal mass (tile floor),
  • tubular skylights,
  • Window Quilts insulated window curtains and
  • a large root cellar.

The home also includes many Energy Star rated lights and appliances.

For transportation, we've got  several options. When we are really good, we ride our bikes :) When we get motorized, we've got two turbodiesel cars running on home-brewed Biodiesel. A 2005 VW Jetta TDI wagon (about 45 mpg), license plate B10DIESL and a 1993 VW Cabriolet with a ECO turbo-diesel engine (about 40 mpg), license SOYTOY. We've also got some Electric Vehicles, including 2 Vectrix maxi-scooters (light motorcycles - about 200 mpg equivalent), a GE Electrak tractor & a John Deere riding lawnmower.  The Mrs. drives a Ford Escape Hybrid. We just added a 70 mpg Suzuki Burgman maxi-scooter to the fleet. Who says environmentally transportation can't be fun?!?

For the beginnings of food and water independence, we have a 200 gallon rainwater collection system - see below, raised bed vegetable gardens and a small fruit orchard.

Back of the house with 6" of extra foam board insulation, which is held in place with firring strips and extra long screws. We added a second patio door as a "super insulated" storm door. Siding just starting to go back up.

SoyToy is one of our fun, environmentally friendlier vehicles. Outfitted with an ECO Diesel engine from an earlier Jetta, the car uses home made BioDiesel fuel.

My Vectrix Max-scooters parked at RIT. Note the power cord for charging and the sign they made up for this adjunct professor :)

For a quick glance at how I'm doing, I've devised a simplified chart of my progress on a few key measures. The chart shows how much I am using compared to the average person or household. Natural Gas (therms per year), Electricity purchase (kWh per month) and Water (gallons per day) compare my household's consumption versus the average values listed by area utilities. The Petroleum numbers compare my annual consumption of "dino"diesel fuel to the average American's gasoline consumption... Update: for the 2009-2010 heating season we were down to 548 therms :)