Net Zero goals?  Greetings to all people intent on energy saving!

Not much Solar Power for Net Zero Goals, Just a Nice Montana Sunset!

This Web Site is Dedicated to Meeting Net Zero Energy Goals through Energy Savings and Solar Production.

My wife and I chose to move to a Montana location with excellent fishing and Grand Children.  We can no hit the boat ramps on five good fishing lakes within 15 minutes drive.  The move  entailed building a new home to obtain the views and location we wanted.   We were retired and watching our income take a dive in value (like most other retirees) as the dollar depreciated.

We decided to build a super energy efficient home for the best risk-free investment imaginable.  Our goal was to eliminate or nearly eliminate our gas and electric bills.  Those bills keep rising for others now, but not us. This was recognized to be a challenging goal in Montana, which some have called The American Siberia. The new home is less than 50 miles from Rogers Pass.  Rogers Pass holds the lower 48 US Continental   low temperature record at minus 70 degrees F.

It literally took a couple years  to find the ideal property and design a home.  The home needed to suit our needs for the rest of our single family housing years.  We came up with a piece of property with a nice view shed:

  • A lake in the foreground.
  • City lights beyond
  • And a nice mountain view in the background.

The best part was that the  view was directly south for maximum solar production potential.  Guess which way we oriented the house for best passive and active solar gain? Happily, our neighborhood enjoys the lowest weather precipitation statistics in Montana. Also, we have absolutely NO solar obstructions.

 

Net Zero energy goals made possible by southern view of the sun.

Southerly views contribute greatly to our Net Zero energy goals.

Our purpose for providing this Net Zero energy web site.

We would like to convey some energy saving design ideas to people wanting a net zero home.  That includes especially making a low energy HVAC (Heating Cooling and Air Conditioning) system.  You can significantly reduce the rest of the electrical loads such as lighting.  We wanted to cut those energy costs as much as possible to meet our net zero energy goal.  We accomplished that with both energy saving ideas and solar production. Many Net Zero Energy homes  ignore heating or cooling costs.  Few  can really claim true Net Zero in Montana without gas or wood backup.  Even wood has someone’s labor costs!

I assume NO LIABILITY if people base their designs on the information I provide in these pages. Always consult with experts before finalizing your designs!  Readers doing their own home designs should consult with experts in their respective fields of expertise. You should heed this wise advice regardless of the type of construction that is anticipated. My wife and I acted as the general contractors in the building of our home for the first time.  I can say that we probably could have saved a lot of time and money.  If only we had hired a good general contractor to oversee the project.  She would have probably also have provided a lot of expert general construction advice along the way!

Don’t forget to search for other energy saving web sites.

Montana has a special set of challenges when it comes to heating systems especially.  Other parts of the country and world have their own set of special challenges.  You need to consider those before starting any remodeling or building project of your own.  Other web sites have tons of other great ideas.  Build it Solar.com  is one such site.  I have a great respect for Gary, the site master.  He is a much better engineer than I on this subject material, so check it out!  I plan to add other links later as my site develops, so please return for more information.

It is the Net Zero energy results that count.

We actually produced an energy surplus in the first year of living part-time in the new home. We produced about 400 kWh more than we consumed that year.   The energy company kept the 400 kWh of overage which helped their profits 😉 .  What if we had used 400 kWh more energy than we consumed for the year?  We would have only owed the energy company about $40 additional over the $5/month hook-up fee. Since that year we have had one $200 year and one $37 year.  This present year is shaping up to be a surplus year because we nearly doubled our solar production capabilities.

With extra solar production,  we should seldom have to go into a conservation mode to avoid energy bills.  Some neighbors were complaining about $400 to 600 monthly heating bills but we simply used up our stored energy credits.  We will still leave the energy company with a surplus at the end of the year.

Concerning Net Zero energy grid-tie capital investment planning:

The energy company keeps any of our surplus energy production for the year.  However, it is worth it because the grid acts as a back up battery system.  Such battery backup systems can be quite expensive if we had to go totally off-grid. The energy company also benefits because all our energy production comes at their periods of peak energy demand.  Much of our energy consumption comes during the night when our heating system is running.

Most grid-tie people strive to finish the year as slight net consumers at the end of their reconciliation period.  Hence, they do not over-design their system thereby adding unnecessary capital costs.  They do not want to waste energy by possibly “giving away” any surplus energy to the energy company.  I prefer not to have to worry about being too cold in the winter or too warm in the summer.  It is best for us to have a normal year-end surplus but to not worry about bad weather years!  The battery backup the grid provides is worth something to us.

Later thoughts on Net Zero energy.

Initially, we planned to cut the production close to our estimated annual consumption for the reasons discussed above.  We threw that thinking out the window for a few reasons:

  • Some winters might  leave us with snow falls that drop production to zero for all too long.  That happened last December, January and February along with high winds and low temperatures.  No wonder everyone in this part of Montana was complaining about very high energy bills!
  • We tired of regulating our consumption in the early and later months of our fiscal energy cycle.  We don’t have to worry about that any longer.
  • Now we have extra production for future plans such as an electric automobile
  • The grid might go down for extended periods of time.  More production will charge our battery backup system more quickly.  It will still meet our emergency panel load requirements as well.

Keep watching this site for a future blog about the battery backup system I am planning.  It should be of special interest to people who have a SolarEdge high voltage solar panel system.  Other conventional grid-tie system owners might profit by sharing in my coming experiences.

Explore this web site to pick up ideas for reducing home energy costs!

Details about how we have achieved our Net Zero energy cost goals appear throughout this web site.  Explore the various information tabs at the top of this and other pages.  Also, keep checking for more updated information on our Net Zero energy adventure.  We will be updating our site periodically, especially with blog material.

This is our first web site venture, so thanks for your patience.  Things should start moving more quickly and smoothly as I gain experience and have time to devote to it.  Hopefully  others will be inspired to try  building a net zero energy home.  It will be gratifying even if you only reach a portion of that ultimate goal.  At least you will be reducing your energy costs while helping our nation achieve energy independence.

This is what I also missed in the last couple years.

No Chasing Net Zero, but Grand Kid Got This 19 Pound Trout!

No Net Zero Score but our grand son did catch a Nice 19 Pound Trout!

Thank you for viewing and please comment in the blog about what you see.  We will have to do a lot of editing before we get the site up to snuff!  I welcome your critiques.

Mike

P.S.  My son and I are starting a new company that will be producing heating and cooling energy saving products.  These products will offer a great return on comfort and investment.  Watch for the first announcement for this exciting product line on this Net Zero web site.

P. P. S.  Please look at my announcement blog on our home page for Smart Forced Air, Inc.