Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"We're Rolling"

Tuesday 1/29/13

Well, today a film crew from the CT Zero Energy Challenge came to video document OCPH. They are actually filming me right now. Camera over my left shoulder showing me diligently working on my Blog. Riveting b-roll footage.

The video cast and crew

Thursday 1/31/13

For the video Paul and I were asked questions about our process of deciding to build an ultra energy efficient house and how we went about making it a reality. Also on hand to answer questions were Jamie Wolf of Wolfworks, the designer of our home, and Peter Harding of Home Energy Technologies, our HERS rater. More about our HERS rating in another post. For a primer on what a HERS rating is, peek at Peter Harding's website. The film will be posted on the CT Zero Energy Challenge website soon.

Icicles on the rain chain

Life in OCPH

Last week we had an arctic weather blast. I awoke to low single digit temps every morning. Along with the arctic air came bright clear skies and our PV and Thermal Solar Systems were cookin'!  When the sun came streaming into the windows at about 10:00am the passive solar gains warmed our house to 72 degrees. With the thermostat set to 68, our small supplemental heat pump got a daytime break even though the outdoor temps remained in the teens and low twenties. Paul's solar hot water system was really cookin'. The panel heated up to 180 degrees and the tank temp rose to a simmering 147 degrees. In this case our anti-scald mix valve was a good thing.

Three weeks ago Paul installed energy usage monitoring software called E-Monitor which gives us an hourly breakdown of the energy consumption of our different systems (heating/cooling, mechanical ventilation, lighting, entertainment systems, kitchen, etc.) We are starting to compile data and recognize usage patterns which help us further minimize our energy consumption. It will take an entire year to get the complete story of our energy usage.

Sunrise through our screen porch

One of the questions we were asked during the video interview was "What motivated you to build this type of home?"  90 minutes of footage will be edited down to a 3-4 minute video. I am going to take advantage of this platform to add to my answer.

Paul and I first learned about Passive House from an article we read in the New York Times in 2008. We thought it made so much sense. The concept of Passive House solved many of the gripes we had about our current domicile which was drafty and dark with uneven temperatures throughout the house. We paid too much for heating fuel and electricity and I have kids with indoor dust allergies. Passive House addressed all of those issues. A couple of years later we started to plan for a move in 2012. There were many beautiful houses on the market. I saw several listings in great communities in move-in condition at a good price. The problem was I knew about Passive House. My home search was steered by the fact that I knew the possibilities that existed in Passive House and I lost my appetite for the gorgeous houses already on the market. It was a strange phenomenon when it occured, like loosing your taste for chocolate. That is when I sought out Jamie and Wolfworks. Turns out my real dream home is ultra energy efficient and environmentally responsible. It also has a condensing dryer and a stainless steel apron front sink.

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