Water Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Indoor Air Quality, Solar Power, Storm Water Infiltration
In 2012 we downsized to an all-electric sustainable home and pursued our quest to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible. We purchased a 1987 home near Lake Ballinger and launched our sustainability project, which included conducting extensive weatherization repairs; adding additional insulation to the attic, unheated sub floor crawl spaces, and floor above the garage; replacing ventilation fans in two bathrooms with high efficiency ventilation fans; and replacing existing toilets with low-flow toilets. We also added ceiling fans. Repairs also included replacing two leaking skylights, bathroom window, front door, and changing out all existing light bulbs with LEDs. We removed the gas furnace and gas water heater and installed a heat pump, high-efficiency electric heat pump water heater, and water recirculation pump.
Our solar project started in July 2012 with a 41-ITEK panel/micro-inverter array (9.84 kWh) made in Washington State, and was activated by Snohomish PUD on August 16, 2012. This solar installation was sufficient to cover the initial annual electrical needs at our home. In January 2013 we purchased an Electric Vehicle (Tesla Model-S), which requires around 3.36 kWh/year to charge the batteries. To satisfy this need, we added 14 additional panels in May 2013, boosting the total solar system output to 13.2 kWh/year. With net-metering, we sell all the electricity generated back to Snohomish PUD at $0.54/kWh, and buy back what we need at $0.087/kWh. For 2014 we produced 12,628 kW and used 7,121 kW, including charging our EV, amounting to 177% of our electricity use requirements, and were reimbursed by Snohomish PUD with a check for $4,828.75 for our net metered production for 2014. The existing Washington State Renewable Energy Cost Recovery System limit is $5,000/year for residential solar production through net-metering. We have not paid an electric bill since signing up for net metering. Snohomish PUD also sent us a check for $2,500 for signing up for net metering.
In 2014, we installed 4,590 gallons of Cisterns at our home to capture the rain water off our roof for reuse on our property. Our dream of sustainable living and becoming a net electricity producer has been realized, and our sustainability dream, as you can see, has definitely paid off!