We built our house in Delmar in 2007. The house was built with energy efficiency in mind and has been given the highest energy star rating available. It was purposefully positioned to accommodate a large solar array. The following year (in 2008) we installed solar panels on the roof of our main house with help through the NYSERDA and NYS tax rebate program, which uses a net metering system. Any power generated that we don’t use goes back to the utility grid and we are credited annually. The system has proved to be maintenance free and provides 70% of our electrical needs. Our utility bill has dropped from an average of $ 150 per month to roughly $ 35 per month. Note: we have an electric dryer (that is running almost every day), pool and heat pump pool heater, and AC!
We also installed an on-demand hot water system that provided hot water for a family of five (with three girls and lots of showers and laundry). The house was also built with wood heat in mind. We installed a Heat and Glow in-house wood burner and placed gravity vents in the front room so heat could flow to the upstairs. Blower units are used when the house needs to be heated up quickly, but once it is up to temperature the natural gravity flow of the heat keeps things nice and warm without the blowers.
I also have a sizable kitchen garden and try to eat as much out of the garden as possible. A vented root cellar was installed to store as many root crops as I can. One vent at the bottom of the cellar, and another at the top, allows warmer air to escape thus pulling in cooler air at the bottom. This air flow helps keep the temperature down and the air circulation helps the vegetables keep over the winter.
Very happy to be part of this great event!