I figured since it is Leap Day, I would take time today to review some of our goals, and where we are at now.
But first, a quick note on the work being done...
More mudding is being done this week.
I tell you, my sense of balance isn't good, and I am pretty darned sure I would fall flat on my face if I tried it, but those 'stilts' the guys use to make the ceiling work easier look very cool!
Final plumbing for the sump pump is going into place. The 'reveal' along the floors and doors, as well as the tile work upstairs should be getting started this week.
Now, back to "leaping" forward...
Our main goal is simply to produce as much energy as we use each year (for both our house and cars).
When generating your own energy, the least expensive way to start is to... use as little energy as possible.
To do this, we are building as much efficiency into the house as we reasonably can.
Once step we took to insure this, is to measure how much air leaks from the house. The less air that leaks, the less energy that leaks.
In the "blower door" test done a few weeks ago, we scored 740 cubic feet per minute (CFM).
Our energy modeling software gives us a rate of 550 CFM (although I'll be happy if we beat that).
So, with temporary, and unsealed doors, some conduit from outside that was not yet sealed and some insulation yet to be applied, we are doing quite well. Additional insulation has already been applied in a number of areas and I suspect we cut that difference in half already.
Once we make the house as efficient as we reasonably can, we will produce the rest of the energy with PV solar panels.
Another goal of ours is to not need our carbon monoxide (CO) detectors! Our house has no natural gas service and no appliances (or cars) that produce CO.
We still want to have backup power in the event of a grid power outage.
To do this, we are planning to install a backup battery system.
We are planning to use a pair of Tesla's new PowerWall battery packs. This is a brand new product and we are still in the design phase.
We would like the batteries to be in place before next winter. A power outage in the summer, without backup, would be annoying. In the winter though, a prolonged blackout could be very costly.
In a perfect world, we would have them in place when we move in, however, that is unlikely at this point.
We are sizing our backup power to give us 1-2 days of limited backup power under the worst winter conditions. In the summer, the backup power will likely we good for a week, if not many weeks as the solar panels will also work to bring in power during sunny days and the power demands are much lower in the summer than the winter.
The backup power will not be sufficient to charge our cars (although if we can figure out how to do it, our cars have enough power to run the house for many days). In the event of a prolonged blackout, we will spend more time reading at a library or other location with a car charger.
For water, we want to use as little as possible. Our yard will have very little grass, and what there is will be drought tolerant so as to not need any irrigation. We will have a number of rain barrels and rain gardens to store water onsite so it can soak naturally into the soil, and a couple of curb cuts to pull in some water from the streets and let it filter naturally into the soil rather than simply run through the sewers.
This will be fun (I hope!) to come back to when the whole process is complete and see how we did :)
Mark really doesn't like to talk about himself, the house is much more interesting.