As be plan to build our new home soon, you get the benefit of the ecological, environmental, and energy saving tips and tricks we learn.
Hacking Your Way Off The Utility Grid from Brian McConnell is a great article on how to maximize solar electricity and other resources to minimize your reliance on local utilities.
Last year, I began work to retrofit my home in San Francisco to generate most of its own energy (both heating and electric). My design goal was to reduce my home’s energy footprint by 80 to 90%. I approached this project in three stages. In stage 1, I installed a grid-intertied solar electric system that generates most of the house’s electric power. In stage 2, I supplemented the solar electric system with solar water heating that reduced the electric energy consumed by my backyard hot tub. In stage 3, I installed solar forced air heaters that reduce the need for natural gas central air heating.
I got involved in this project for a number of reasons. First, I am an engineer and tinkerer. Since I already have all of the electronic gadgets I want or need, I was looking for something new to play around with. The idea of turning my home into a personal power production facility was interesting to me. I also wanted to lock in my cost of power, as a hedge against future energy crises and the long-term trend toward increasing energy prices. Lastly, the idea of doing something to protect the environment was appealing, although it was not my primary motivation for doing this.