Energy Stories

Our House Goes Solar

Considerations

1. We scheduled a 'free' energy audit. These are supported by our electric company which actually charges a tiny amount on each bill to cover the cost (nothing is free, actually). The auditor measured our heating system and reported that it was probably only about 30% efficient. We were losing about half the heat up the chimney (as hot gasses and unburned byproducts). We were losing even more out the steam pipes that run from the basement up through outside walls to reach radiators in our 2nd and 3rd floor unit.

2. We cut a small hole through the plaster and found that, although there was insulation in some cases, in others there was none. We found that the stucco that forms the outside surface of our building had been applied directly to the studs; there was no wood sheathing to help insulate us. Our windows were old and probably drafty.

3. We had some money available from family members - originally as a down payment to move into a single family house. We decided that we didn't really need, nor could we afford the upkeep, on a house, so we decided to stay in our condo, the upper two floors of a two family house. We got permission to use the down payment funds for improvements here, instead.

4. Although we had some trees around us, one side of our roof faced south east with enough exposure to give solar a try.

Side view of house roof, with dormers.