Submitted By: Louise Clark (LouiseClark@comcast.net)
I had a simple goal: to upgrade my 52 year old house so that it would burn no fossil fuels. This might sound a little overwhelming, but fortunately I have an engineer son who was willing to tackle the challenge for me. Our home feels a little like a lab where we’re experimenting with the latest technologies for producing and conserving clean energy!
The solution that my son came up with has three basic parts:
Making My Home More Energy Efficient - My heating solution works because I added insulation and double-paned windows and sliding glass doors in 2009. I also lowered my use of electricity by replacing my original 58 fluorescent tubes with LED tube lights. Our house was designed with tube (vs. recessed) lighting fixtures.
Generating Electricity with Solar Panels - I had 36 PV (photovoltaic) panels installed on my roof about a decade ago and recently added more panels to accommodate the increased need for electricity to run the heat pump. We originally had 4 rows of 9 Schott ASE 300 watt panels. My son is now in the process of putting 1 row of these panels (9 panels) on three “trackers” that follow the sun during the day. They constantly adapt the angle of the PVT panels to face the sun to maximize the electric and thermal energy that is captured. The trackers will also include reflectors, which reflect light onto the panels, and can double the amount of solar energy captured. The trackers are from a German company called DEGERenergie. We are also in the process of adding 20 additional 180 watt translucent PV panels made by Sharp, above an outside garden area to provide more electricity and partial shade.
All you need to know is that I produce solar electricity when the sun shines, selling my excess to PG&E. I buy it back from PG&E when the sun doesn't shine. When I produce more electricity than I use, PG&E will start paying me for the excess.
Benefits & Payback
Making upgrades in these three areas has totally eliminated my use of fossil fuels. PG&E actually removed my gas meter a year ago as I no longer burn fossil fuel. And my electric bill is around $5.50 per month just to pay for the PG&E meter reader.
Picture on right is digital display in my kitchen.
Florida Heat Pump
Info on Geothermal Heat Pumps - U.S. Dept of Energy
Explanation of How Geothermal Works - California Energy Commission
DEGERenergie Tracking Systems
Sharp Translucent Panels