triple threat

Today is extremely gray, cloudy, and rainy. Seems like a perfect day to write about the triple threat of solar energy since we have so little.

We continue to be impressed by passive solar. It’s amazing what orienting the house to the south and the right windows do on their own. We easily get 3-5 degrees (F) of heat from a mostly sunny afternoon. That is on top of any heat generated by the masonry stove, not to mention lights, oven, feline purrs, etc.

The solar hot water heater has also been a great investment. Heating water is one of the most energy-intensive tasks in a house or apartment. The solar boost makes a big difference. In fact, every time the electric heater within the hot water tank comes on, we do a double take because the sound is so rare.

Now we have the third solar benefit: solar PV panels. We came out ahead on our very first full month with solar panels. October was unusually sunny so we produced 20% more electricity than we used. The past few weeks have been a bit cloudier, and we’ve needed more electricity in the house–radiant floor heating in the bathroom, more lights during the night as the days have gotten shorter, Christmas lights, a few other things (although, notably, we have yet to turn on the electric baseboard heating). Ron just checked our production versus use. We used more than we produced during the last month.

But the credit we generated (literally) the previous month should now be advanced against our modest bill.

Solar power is our triple threat–passive heat, hot water, electricity generation. And it’s an enormous mystery why every new housing and commercial development throughout most of the continental United States–even in “the weather is supposedly always bad” Ithaca–isn’t required to have solar.

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