California - Performance

The house performs perfectly as long as its fairly sunny, even with quite cold nights.  In those conditions, the front (sunny side) of the house never goes below 67F, and the back of the house never goes below 64F, although the slab edge in the back goes down occasionally as low as 56F and often a bit below 60F.  In cloudy weather (which usually also means to the cold side, ie 40s), the house would get quite cold without supplemental heat from the wood stove, so the amount of wood used is directly proportional to the number of cloudy days below 50F.  In drought years, this is less than ten days, but in rain years it more like sixty days, or possibly more, although some days supplemental heat is only needed in the morning, and others its needed all day long.

My only regrets are that I wish we had 2" of perimeter foam instead of 3/4" and that we could have come up with a design using less doors--in particular the south facing door probably leaks as much air as I suspected it would, in spite of the double lock hardware--its just hard to seal against winds that blow 20 to 40 mph on a regular basis.

Initially electric use was less than what the PV panels generated on a yearly basis, but that was because the house was largely unoccupied in the summer.  Not that its occupied full time the use on an annual basis is somewhere  in the range of 3kwh/day. Some (or maybe most) of this use is probably due to converting the heat pump water heater (which died many times) to a standard electric tank.  The plan is to some day replace that with a more reliable heat pump, but not until local support (ie plumbers who fix them) is readily available and we can find a unit that clearly tolerates lousy power.

We build a long outdoor clothes line (about 25') out of 2" galvanized pipes and nylon coated wire, as well as installing short clothes lines in the laundry area so we could dry stuff even on rainy days.  The net result is the we virtually never use the dryer.

All lighting is either CFL or LED, and we're slowly converting to LED as the CFLs die. The only incandescent lights in the house are those rarely turned on (ie hall lilghts)-the idea here is that incadescents have a lower environmental impact, so if they're rarely used, the power savings is negligible.  LEDs last so long, and their lifetime appears to not to be reduced by turning them on and off, so maybe everything eventually gets replaced with LEDs.

The house now has a TV, DVD player and stereo, so they sit on a plug strip so that off really means off.  It makes turning on the TV a bit annoying, but maybe the manufactures will wake up one day and stop wasting power.

Phantom loads include a wifi router and cell phone signal booster.  Previously we had satellite internet, which uses a lot of power in broadcast mode, but that was upgraded to a local wifi based internet using hi-gain antennas.