N8 Sustainable Dreams, Lake Ballinger

Site Description

Water Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Indoor Air Quality, Solar Power, Storm Water Infiltration, Electric Vehicle

In 2012 my wife and I 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.

We have continued to make energy efficiency improvements to our home, which have reduced our energy demand every year. The latest improvement was to replace our standard double paned windows with LoeE-366 (argon) windows, and replaced 4 leaking skylights. In early 2016 our home was certified by the International Living Future Institute as a Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB).

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 $0.09/kWh.

For 2016 we produced 12,619 kW and used 6,172 kW, including charging our EV, amounting to 204% of our electricity use requirements, and were reimbursed by Snohomish PUD with a check for $5,000 for our net metered production for 2015. Over the past four years we have received checks totaling $18,427.09 from our net metered production. The existing Washington State Renewable Energy Cost Recovery System limit is $5,000/year for residential solar production through net-metering. Net metering paid our electric bill for the first three years, and now we pay an annual electric bill of less than $300/year. Snohomish PUD also sent us a check for $2,500 for signing up for net metering in 2012.

In 2014/2015, we installed 4,590 gallons of Cisterns at our home to capture the rain water off our roof for reuse on our property in our vegetable gardens, and plant watering.

We are currently waiting to have a 13.5 kWh Tesla Powerwall-2 backup battery system installed, and hope to have that installation completed later this Spring, or early Summer.

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!