Sunday, April 17, 2011

Energy Efficient Home enables early retirement

I had a great chat today with Linda Johnson, the owner of the passive solar home I built, featured in this blog. I try to touch base with her on a regular basis, just to see how the house is working and if she has any problems with it. She also sends me her energy bills on a regular basis which enables me to keep track of how the house is performing. Yes, we did a whole bunch of energy modeling when designing the house but nothing beats having the actual energy costs to prove that this stuff works and works well.




She just turned 62 (she's gonna kill me for telling that) and she will be retiring within the next few months. Then she went on to tell me that had she not built this house she would not have been able to retire at this age. She stated that she is saving $550 a month living in her new home, even with having to pay a little more in property taxes. I'm not sure how she did the math but it was nice to hear. In another month or so she will have been in the house for 2 full years and we will once again compare the annual energy costs to make sure the house is meeting expectations. Early on, back in 2008 when I was first getting ready to build this house I estimated the annual heating costs of the house to be less than $700 and the total energy cost to be about $1,500. Last winter the cost to heat this home came in at $341 for the entire winter, far exceeding expectations. The total energy cost for the house over the entire year was $1,786 about $286 higher than expected, so we sat down and tried to figure out were the extra energy was being used. We made some adjustments to the cooling system that helped the system perform more efficiently, we adjusted the setting on the whole house dehumidifier and we made recommendations about habits that could reduce energy costs. We will see in another month how well those adjustments worked and if we have met the goal of $1,500 annual energy costs. Next we will be installing a solar hot water system that should reduce the energy costs even further, ( she currently has an electric hot water heater)

Tracking the energy costs for this house has been pretty simple, it's all electric. No oil, gas or wood, no fossil fuels being burnt in the house and the ability to convert to solar electric, should she choose to do so. That will be the next step to fulfilling the goal I had when designing this house, a true zero energy home, right here in New England that costs less than $175 sq/ft to build.


Tom Pittsley


47 comments:

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  19. Very well said. Retirees can go at ease in early retirement, knowing that they will have a cozy and cold home to stay.

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  20. This is such as great point and one that is so often overlooked when people consider green home energy. As people retire they need independence not dependence, which runs counter to what the conventional wisdon holds. Solar Home Energy and other green application do just the trick.

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  21. First of all, energy-efficient homes will save you a lot of money, from electric bills to repair costs. This allows you to have more resources for other basic needs like food, clothes, and medicine. It is important for a retiree to have his or her savings come a longer way because there is no longer a constant source of income available at your disposal.

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  22. I'm not sure how she did the math but it was nice to hear. In another month or so she will have been in the house for 2 full years and we will once again compare


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  23. Very interesting post. I've been doing a lot of research into energy efficient homes since I'm a Boston roofer. We are trying to convert our roofing company into a solar and renewable energy roofing company serving the Greater Boston area. I appreciate the great read!

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  24. Great post on energy efficient homes, really great read. I'm trying to learn more about how I can use solar panels for some of my roofing in Portland ME. Many of my customers are looking for energy efficient roofs, and I see this as a trend that will continue into the future.

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  25. If anyone is interested in creating an energy efficient home, I would highly recommend residential window tinting. It's a great way to keep our harmful UV rays out as well as unwanted heat. It also provides a very clean and modern look for your home.

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  26. Indeed, early retirees can save more money from electricity bills. They might purchase equipments high in energy efficiency rating. From that, they can have less bills to worry.

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  29. I love your post on energy efficient homes. Thank you for sharing this information. It was very thought provoking!

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  30. Hey Tom, great article. I'm a real estate agent in Wellesley MA, and here in the Boston area we are definitely seeing more customer interest in energy efficient homes, especially for first-time home buyers. Very interesting piece, thanks for sharing!

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  31. Obviously, such energy efficient home equates to comfortable living and retirement. As a result more retirees will spend time in their home where extreme temperatures and brown outs are forgotten.

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  32. Great post. I've recently been doing more research into eneryg efficiency since Ill be producing a video that highlights the benefits of energy efficiency at home. This was very helpful, thanks for the great write-up.

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  33. By the amount of comments this looks like a great post! I have been tinting windows for quite some time and this is a huge concern for home owners. Thanks for the content!

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  35. Love that external large glass window, they look elegant outside and at any angle.

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  36. In other words, it enables retirees to spend their pensions wisely and have more purchasing power. Moreover, they enable pensioners to be more comfortable staying at their home.

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  43. Nice Info! It's time we detract the utilization of all our electric instrument lest it will make a big dent in my duffel bag. Well, if you too are regularly noticed of the growing Family expenditure, specially the power bills.

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  44. I wonder why different professionals don't take action your website overmuch m happy I got this. Netty

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  45. In fact, an energy efficient home translates into more savings and more comfortable environment. Hence, encourages early retirement.

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  46. Thanks for the information on solar homes! I'm currently in the middle of building a home extension, and I'd love to set up my home for solar panels.

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