Yikes! The shadows are growing longer, autumn colors are arriving, and the northwest winds are hinting at what’s to come…again. And yes, this week marks an entire year since we last posted. But ALL IS WELL!!
There’s lots of catching up to do and it won’t all happen at once, but we hope this is the first in a series of posts that will complete the construction story, answer your many questions (yes, we’ve had lots of inquiries over the past year!), and expand on our growing base of knowledge and experiences in the first year.
“Ahhhh…small pleasures…” ended our previous post. And we were truly thankful for the small (as well as large) pleasures of seeing final touches being put on the house. Last year’s gutter installation was followed by completion of the pergola, tidying up a few lingering inside projects, and some final earth-moving to prepare us “for a long winter’s nap.”
Not surprisingly, our year has been anything but napping. While ‘getting acquainted’ and learning to live with our new home this past year, there’s been a lot of catching up with family, refocusing on our ‘real’ jobs, and through much of the spring, summer and fall, plenty of work with landscaping, gardening, and prairie restoration around the house.
From the beginning, our goal has been to move toward a sustainable lifestyle. A net-zero, near-Passive House home was first and remains the cornerstone of meeting this goal; expanding this idea to the grounds around us, the food we grow, and the way we live is still falling into place—but we’re getting there.
In the first year we can honestly say the house performed as we intended. Clear, sunny winter days provided plenty of passive heating in the dead of winter; the super-insulated, super-sealed structure held the heat; the thermal solar system provided hot water, and the PV panels produced electricity to support our daily living and any additional need for supplemental heat.
As summer arrived, the canopies effectively kept the heat of the sun from piercing through the windows; the structure kept heat out, coolness in; we ran the dehumidifier function on a mini-split during the most uncomfortable days, but never used the air conditioning this year.
While we’re still assessing the actual amount of electricity used, we can report that we’ve sold excess power to the local utility ten of the past 14 months – yes, we bought some during the winter when the days were short, or cloudiness persisted, and temperatures dropped below zero. Just how close were we to net-zero in the first year? Very close…details in the weeks to come!