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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Report Card



Warm Season
Apr 1 to Oct 31
Cold Season
Nov 1 to Mar 31
Off-grid Solar
Backup Generator
Hot Water
Backup Tankless
Masonry heater
Passive Solar
In-floor Solar

Rainwater Cistern
Sawdust Toilet

Before I explain the report I should explain why this?  Why now?    Yesterday afternoon, Linda and I sat for yet another interview with the media regarding our “newsworthy” home.  But this one was different.  Brian Todd, who posts a Green column for the Rochester Post-Bulletin, had returned for round 2.  Having posted an article on us last June, he felt compelled to drive out again and see how the systems are working in the winter.  “How much water you got in your cistern?” 

In addition to our two hour conversation, I wish I given him this report card.  Unfortunately I didn’t have it until 4:30 this morning when I woke up with it in my head.  Like a parent-teacher conference, we might as well “discuss” the low grades first, because…well…until we do we won't pay attention to anything else.

Hot Water.Cold Season = C.  Solar providing maybe 2/3 of hot water in the long dark, requiring us to use the dreaded Bosch Gas Tankless Water Heater.  If we could be granted a mulligan, one do-over for the entire project, I’d vote to get rid of the Bosch.  

Cooling.Warm Season = C.    I’d give it a B if I was only rating temperature performance.  While mostly keeping the house under a tolerable 80F, maximum inside temperature was 86F after a brutal string of hot nights.   C is for humidity.  Doors swelled and wouldn’t close.   The problem was designed in.  If its 90F outside and 80F inside, then the inside %RH is necessarily much higher unless you get rid of the moisture. 

What about the B’s?  Electricity.Cold Season:  requires backup generator about 1 / month.  
Heating.Warm Season:  April / October shoulder season challenge.  Water:  lack of transparency.  We don’t know exactly how much water we’re using or how much remains in the cistern.  Could only tell Brian that the 5400 gallon cistern filled on Nov 7, and will last until April if our daily usage is under 35 gallons. 

Do we finally get to brag about the A’s?  Electricity.Warm Season:  solar provided 100%.  Hot Water.Warm Season:  solar provided 100%.   Heating.Cold Season: masonry heater and passive solar keeping house very comfortable for Linda during her recovery from surgery (68F to 75F).  Humanure:  sawdust toilet never plugs, never leaks, no odor issues, easy to clean, saves thousands of gallons of water, makes compost instead of pollution. 

Additional Comments:  Home the Land Built’s systems were stressed to the max during the first few weeks of Linda’s recovery from double hip replacement.  Performance = amazing.  Also, this is just the System Report Card.  What about the top two needs of Home the Land Built?  What about connecting us the the Land AND welcoming family and friends?  Seems another, more important report card is due.

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