Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Signing off

Hello again, everyone. We are officially ending our posts on this blog. We had a lot of fun over the past few years sharing our experiences with you. What initially started as an informal blog to share building updates with our close friends and family turned into an informative venture for readers from around the world. We really enjoyed sharing our experiences with our Passive House and especially appreciated meeting and interacting with others who are passionate about green building.

We plan to leave the blog up as a continued resource for those who are curious about Passive Houses. And we hope the number of interested homeowners and builders will continue to grow!

Thanks again to our amazing builders, Bilyeu Homes. Please don't hesitate to contact them if you have any more questions about our project (or if you want to hire them for your own project!). We're also happy to continue answering questions in the future.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Energy Data - First two years

Our lives got quite a bit busier in the last year with the introduction of our baby boy, Archer, who was born last August. So here we are, two years after moving in, and realizing we never posted the energy data we once promised.

Last fall, we turned over our first year's worth of energy data from the house to Ecotope, a sustainability consulting firm. They did a full analysis and comparison of our home's predicted performance versus how it actually performed. We also gave them a little extra data from right after our baby was born. Our energy use went up quite a bit right after Archer came along, as you'll see in the report.

You can read the full report here.

We were quite excited to see the data backing up what we already knew: our house is performing extremely well.

One interesting point, starting on page 8, talks about our son's impact on our energy use. We gave Ecotope two months of data from when Archer was here (August and September 2011). Based on the pattern of increased energy use, they attempted to predict how much we might use over the entire year. Their prediction shows a total of 7,451 kWh in year two of the home -- higher than the PHPP limit of 6,462 kWh.

However, we just checked our actual energy data from year two (May 2011-May 2012), and while we did end up using more energy than year one, our energy use for year two came in at 6,500 kWh -- just barely above the PHPP limit. This is good news, because it means we're still doing relatively well in our energy use, although we could also stand to do better. Just a few weeks ago, we got rid of our TV, TiVo, DVD player and Wii (we didn't want TV around Archer), so maybe that will help quite a bit with our phantom plug loads!

If you're curious what exactly led to our increased energy usage since Archer was born, it included:

  • Stuart, Archer and I were all at home every day from August through the beginning of October, and I was at home every day with Archer through the end of November. I now only work part-time, so I continue to be home with the baby five days a week (including weekends). Having people at home during the day, as compared to year one where we were gone all day, means there's a lot more energy use from things like lights, hot water, appliances, computers, etc.
  • We started doing a lot more laundry since Archer was born, particularly because we use cloth diapers that must be washed every two to three days. The diapers, in addition to all the increased laundry from baby clothes, burp cloths, etc., means we now do laundry almost daily (as opposed to once a week during year one in the house). This had a particularly large impact during the first three months after Archer was born when he went through many, many diapers.
We hope all of this data is useful to those who are curious about the performance of Passive Houses. We are thankful to Ecotrope for doing this very in-depth and informative analysis of our home. It taught us a few things about our personal choices when it comes to energy use. We can't rely solely on our amazing house to do all the work in saving energy -- we need to keep an eye on our energy habits as well.