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Energy Bills?!?

So, Michael and Michele have been in their renovated home for several months now... what I want to know is how they made out with their energy bills over this past summer in Texas?

- How did the new efficient HVAC work?
- Could they tell a difference with the foam insulation?
- Any other major savings they've noticed since moving back in?


Bill Moore
Re: Energy Bills?!?

We can compare the energy use from 2005 to 2007. The summer in 2007 was unusually cool but the house is 50% larger now with four people living there instead of one. The energy use in June 2007 was 388 KWh compared to 817 KWh in June 2005. The 2007 July use was 443 KWh compared to 1035 KWh in 2005. The 2007 August use was 525 KW compared to 971 KWh in 2005. This is about a 50% reduction in energy for a house that is now 50% larger. We like those numbers.

Re: Energy Bills?!?

I followed the Austin house project and although we just finished our 9th remodel of our "old house" the notion of using a photovoltaic system to reduce our energy costs was of interest. Our problem is that we have over 120 trees that have to be irrigated (drip) as well as some other uses of well water (700' deep well). We live in California where (thanks to state surcharges) boosted our old energy bills in the summer of about $400 per month to up to $1,100 per month.

Despite moving all of our energy use we could to high efficiency gas we still have to run a 3 hp deep well pump and a 1 hp booster pump.

Just how well has the photovoltaic system worked since installed? It seems that the State and Federal incentives, coupled with our energy costs may make a net system worth while. We live in a very rural area (Sierra Foothills) and I am unsure we can find a contractor with good information on this subject.

Where can I go in the TOH archives, or to other sources, to get more good information?

Any help appreciated.


Re: Energy Bills?!?

Thanks Bill! Those numbers sure do look good. I enjoyed watching the series there in Austin.

Good luck finding somone John. Each project has a list of sources and products featured:


Maybe the company listed for the Solar Panel install can recomend someone in your area.

Re: Energy Bills?!?


Since my last post I have been intensely researching Photovoltaic systems and how effective they are here in the northern California Sierra Foothills. Even with a good S.W. exposure the pure economics of the systems - even with very high efficient panels - is marginal.

Two different Solar and Electrical contractors have consulted with me and confirmed that there are fiscal constraints to making them effective as an investment tool. For example, the rebates here in California are $2.20 per watt (earlier in the rebate programthey were $2.50) installed capacity (calculated as adjusted for exposure, slope and shade). The federal rebate of up to a $2,000 tax credit also helps but does not encourage larger systems due to the cap of $2,000 for a tax credit (based on 30% of cost for the system up to $2,000).

That being said, unless your kwh costs are over 27 cents, the photovoltaic system does not pencil out. In California we have a really mismanaged energy policy and some of the highest retail rates in the nation. Our local utility in the north state (Pacific Gas and Electric) is often referred to as "Pacific Graft and Extortion". 'Nuff said.

A photovoltaic system installed in a residential application really only makes sense (financially) if you are bumping up into the most expensive power rates: (for time of use meters this ranges from 31 cents (off peak) to a whopping 52.8 cents!

So, if one wants to go Solar in northern California do it for environmental reasons or personal preference it may make sense. If you are looking at it as a way to reduce economic costs to you, it pencils out better to invest your money elsewhere, choke down your P.G. and E. bill and wait for the Congress to pass an improved version of the energy bill or for the California legislature to something - anything! Then again, planning your building or investment strategy on the Congress or the California legislature doing anything logical, or in a timely fashion, you are probably heading for suboptimal experience.

Waiting for the numbers to turn the corner...


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