Hello everyone, I’m David. My wife, Alaina and I live in a small, super-efficient home in Massachusetts with our new daughter, Eleanor. Five years ago, during 2012 we bought this land with a crumbling cottage on it; we demolished the old building, and built a new one. There were, of course, our own headaches, learning curves, and wins along the way as any good owner/builder experiences.
Original House, March, 2012
This blog, website, and YouTube channel are our way to share the projects with you. We also hope to meet more owner/builders and hear their story. You may see product reviews, tips and techniques, or something we haven’t thought of by request.
So how has it been living here for the last five years, aww… awesome! The house is built solid and beyond code. So first, it is structurally strong. We had a tropical storm hit the first week we moved in. I remember sitting with Alaina, looking out the window. The trees were bending way over in the wind. Rain was coming in sideways beating the glass. Yet inside the house everything was calm. Yes, we could hear the wind but it was very much muted. The air inside was still because there were no drafts. No wind whistling in through cracks. No creaking of boards.
New House, December 2014 (Not all the painting is done)
To see how we built it watch this series: https://goo.gl/vDW5pg
During the second year we lived here we had solar panels installed on the house, a 4.4 Kw array. I wanted to do this myself, but our state being what it is, I was not allowed to. So, I hired out. This was a $26,000 bill (huge to us) but part of the overall plan. After the following taxes, we got credits back and ended up paying $14,000 out of pocket. This array is mounted on the roof. Each panel has a micro inverter which feeds directly back into the grid. Massachusetts has favorable grid-tie rules which means that we trade one-for-one units of energy with the grid. Because of this we could “bank” credits during the summer and use them during the winter. This was great for us. For the rest of that year (2013) and all of ’14 and ’15 we had no electric bill.
Now might be good to insert this detail: our home is 100% electric! That means no propane, oil, coal, wood, or gas. The only energy coming into the house is electricity and that was covered 100% by our solar! Yes!
For the clever ones reading, you may now be asking “Yeah, but what about 2016 and 2017?”
Well the good times of being net zero came to an end very slowly. So slowly that it took me nearly 6 months to even realize it, and even longer to curb our habits. You see, we became complacent. It started innocently enough, like running the dish washer 2/3 full instead of completely full because it was convenient. But, that decision leads to an extra cycle every fourth day. Then I bought a surround sound system for awesome movie watching, but that amplifier certainly uses more electricity.
Our biggest change was building our new detached garage. I installed a radiant floor and heated this building all winter (2016-17). Whack! I got a wake up call in the form of electric bills. Wow were they big! About $1,000 to heat this large garage over the winter. Now, I understand this may seem like small potatoes to many people. After all this garage is literally twice as big as the house (in both volume and square footage). But to a young couple accustomed to paying nearly nothing for energy, this was a big, BIG, deal.
New Garage, April 2017
So, during this summer I have been planning all types of projects to help us drop our usage of electricity. Just last month (August 2017) we finally curbed our usage back to zero and began “banking” some credits again.
The bright side of a dim situation: I have planned (and began) so many strategies to bring our usage back to zero that I thought it might be useful to the online community. Hence, I have begun posting new videos and created this blog. So, if you want to, come join us for all the solar panels, all the insulation, and all the friends we meet along the way.
David, Alaina, and Eleanor Poz