I applaud your idea Charlie and I hope you do it, but I also agree with
Kevin's caution to be realistic. My suggestion to you is to start by
drawing up some ideas for a floor plan (basic size and rooms) and then lists
all the "extras" you might want to include. A basic energy efficient house
really doesn't have to cost more than conventional. Then find at least 2
builders who specialize and talk to them about bids. Besides cheering you
on, I think HREG could contribute by helping you sort out which "extras"
will be worth going for. Good luck!
Here is my personal example. We had a custom 2000 sq. ft. house built 10
years ago. My wife designed the floor plan and I added my energy
"features". This included lots of windows on the south with a long
overhang, few windows on the east and especially west, double pane on the
north (front-had to have windows), high EER A/C, fans, good insulation and a
passive solar water heater. I don't feel like we really paid extra. I've
tried to make as many lights as possible fluorescent, but it's been tough
(hard to find different styles with electronic ballasts - so they turn on
right away). I should have had a ridge vent. Anyway, I was so proud that
my monthly electric bill never went over $100. At the time we had one kid,
a new A/C and not too many appliances.
Now for the negative part of the example. 10 years later we have 3 kids
(not that that's bad), a 10 yr. old AC, more stuff and the killer- a pool.
Last month my bill was the highest ever ($280). I hope y'all don't kick me
out of the group. I'm still looking for ways to improve. My gas bill stays
low year around.
More power to you Charlie (or should I say Less Power to you?).
Sent: Friday, August 11, 2000 10:18 AM
Subject: [hreg] More on Solar House
The email yesterday was kind of "off the top of my head". I'm so tired of
trying to find the "right" place to live that when the thought came along -
why not just build one? - it was kind of exciting and I sent it out before
trying to work out any details. I have had some further thoughts and would
like to share them too.
Just researching what all should go into such a house would be a real chore,
but since we have lots of experts here, we could probably do that pretty
easily. Some of you guys may even have some pretty complete stuff on this
available from your files and previous studies. It sould also be a great
project we could all work on together and maybe even generate some publicity
Of course the big hurdle would be cost. If you include everything - energy
efficient applicances and lighting, thermopane glass, filtered air to remove
all allergens, a water purification system, etc. - I assume it must be
prohibitively expensive; otherwise why doesn't anyone build such houses? I'm
not sure how much more it would cost. Maybe someone has a guestimate? Half
again the cost of a regular house? Twice as much?
Anyway, I was wondering - why not make it a demo house for manufacturers,
contractors, etc who are interested in this kind of thing? I could offer to
have open house - say every other Sunday from 10am to 6pm or whatever for a
year or two - and let them put out their literature and bring prospective
clients by. Hopefully they would give a sizeable discount on their equipment
and services in return for showing how their stuff really looks in operation
with someone living there. If this were a really first class job with lots
media coverage, it might be worth a lot to them.
Or it might be a duplex with one side a demo and me in the other.
customers could spend a few days living there just to see how they liked it,
or some other member of this group might want to live in the other side and
we could alternate making our units available on Sundays as a public demo.
I could go on with this kind of stuff but don't guess there's much point
until I see if there is much interest. So far Steve Stelzer has responded
positively. Sure would appreciate some feedback - pro or con - from everyone