Alt Energy – Lower Your Bill
Lowering your Electric Bill
Can my home or business be “net zero” electrically? What about eliminating the gas and water bills, too?
Isn’t this going to be very expensive?
You may have to take out a loan, but you can pay for it with what you are paying on your current electric, gas and water bills and have a positive cash flow. How is this possible? Normally, unless you have a really old and inefficient house, we can find a solution for you. Even if the house is old and inefficient, there may still be a solution. The recommended first steps are to make your home more efficient, both the building envelope and the equipment in it. It is important to come up with a plan. It is far less expensive to replace inefficient equipment and improve your building envelope than it is to try to affect it with solar electric power. We call this “choosing the path of creating smart electrons™. Ultimately this path will create a much smaller requirement for a leaner solar electric system. A very important point to keep in mind is solar production for San Diego County and Coastal Southern California is five hours a day on average; it is much less in northern latitudes and heavy fog areas. Energy efficiency pays you back 24/7 for an efficient building envelope and 24/7 whenever your refrigerator, furnace or AC unit is running.
Do you have a deadline ticking on a solar rebate or federal rebate?
If the answer is yes, then don’t panic or get strong-armed into buying an oversized solar PV system. Take a little time and figure out where your power is going. Make a list of all your appliances.
Answer a few simple questions.
Are the appliances energy star? The typical big consumers are refrigerator, dishwasher, washer, pool, Jacuzzi. How often do you use the dishwasher? Not often? Don’t replace it. Focus on the high use equipment first. If you use your furnace a lot or air condition a lot and your home is cold and drafty in the winter and hot and uncomfortable in the summer, windows, weatherizing and insulation come first. An infrared scan and a pressure test will tell you where the problem is. There are HERS raters and contractors that specialize in envelope analysis. When the envelope is figured out, you also need to take a hard look at how does my passive heating and cooling work? Do you have exposed south facing windows? Do you have south, east or west facing skylights or a large exposed wall? … a dark roof or unvented attic? The simple principle of summer shade and winter sun will cut your air conditioning and heating bills by 50% when combined with a tight building envelope. Your plan should include patio covers, covering skylights with sun block, green shade strategically placed to not affect your future solar electric production. Exploring alternative heating and cooling strategies, moving toward net zero. If you want to move toward net zero and go all electric, a solar thermal system for domestic hot water (a tanked system with storage capacity) is a really great idea, with a tankless electric backup (I recommend Seisco). We are a distributor for an excellent solar thermal company, SolarRoofs.com. Check out their web site; they have do-it-yourself kits also. For solar space heating, a solar thermal system that is 25 to 30% larger with your improved envelope and passive solar with an electric tankless for backup for really cold periods will do the trick. This will eliminate natural gas or propane. Unless you are in Northern Arizona or Colorado, you won’t need a lot more solar thermal 80% of the year. If you have warm winter days and cold nights and hot summer days and cool 65°F or less nights like coastal California, mountain areas of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico or Nevada, consider compressorless air conditioning. See the SilentAire™ Summer Cooling (cut your summer cooling costs by 80 to 90%) and Winter Warming System. See the Johnston Residence You-Tube video and give us a call for a consultation. This system works all over the world wherever the humidity is less than 35% and your summer temperatures cool down at night. If you have mild winters with warm days like most of the desert areas of the southwest and cold nights, our SilentAire with winter warming will cut your gas heating by 50% or reduce your solar thermal, if you are all electric, net zero. How does this work? The short explanation is you strategically and properly pressure ventilate your home during warm 70°F plus days to 75°F during the day. Your improved building envelope retains this warming influence like a flywheel overnight. The ventilation reduces indoor pollution and germs also increasing clean fresh air promoting better health and a cleaner indoor environment. We have systems in Iraq, Mexico, Canada and across the Southwestern U.S.
Another very effective strategy for daytime space heating in cold climates is solar hot air panels, see SolarAire™. As long as you have sunny days even with below freezing temps we can warm your home to 70°F or higher during the daytime.
If you cook with a magnetic glass top range and ceramic oven, you have no need for natural gas. You can size your solar PV system appropriately. You have eliminated your gas and electric bill.
If you live in a small town on a 1/3 acre or sometimes ½ acre, you can drill a well and get off city water. This will get you to a point where you can size your solar PV system appropriately and work toward your net zero plan. If you want to help your solar PV system pay off even better, invest in an electric or hybrid electric plug-in vehicle with extra batteries. Sized properly, you can drive most of the time on EV-mode, off your solar PV system power.
Now we have gone through the whole plan for net zero. See energy efficiency page for more information or give us a call for a free consultation. If you are out of our area, we offer consulting services and training to install your own system. We can work with local contractors, nationally and internationally. If you are downsizing or wish to purchase or explore living in a modular or manufactured home, see our GreenRibbon™ line of net zero manufactured and modular homes offered by Hallmark Southwest. See HallmarkSouthwest.com.