All of us at Green Energy Times are proud of the fact that our volunteers and workers do their part. Our feeling is that if everyone were as conscience as they are, planetary issues would be easy to solve. Here are two more examples of their own stories.
Janis Petzel – Contributing writer
Dave Petzel, Janis’s husband, modified a standard house plan from a lumberyard, made sure it was sited properly for passive solar gain in the winter and reduced gain in the summer. When we built it, we chickened out on being off-grid (too bad, I think now we could have done it), and we put heating oil monitors in back-up our woodstove. Over time, as things need replacing, we’ve been getting rid of the fossil fuel input to our home. We have solar panels, an electric vehicle, and a water jacket on the woodstove which provides heat to the bathrooms. It’s an efficient, comfortable house.
The water heated in the woodstove water jacket goes to an insulated water tank and is then circulated to our bathrooms and to radiators in the basement, keeping the floor on the first floor warm. The back-up heating oil-fueled Monitor in the guest bedroom is only turned on when we have company. Otherwise, there is no direct heat upstairs. Between good insulation, insulated shades on the windows which we pull down at night, the woodstove, and the water jacket, the house stays comfortable.
Jim Van Valkenburgh – G.E.T. volunteer distributor, Peterborough, New Hampshire
My wife and I have been living in a 1980s vintage saltbox with a 21′ long sunroom to the south and pretty good insulation. The sunny sunroom adds a lot of heat on sunny, winter days and provides a buffer to the cold winds of winter. Fifteen years ago, we had solar hot water installed to keep our electric water heater from running most of the time. One year ago, we filled the rest of the roof with 26 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels for 6kW of capacity. South Pack Solar did the installation. That has brought our electric bill down to $Zero. We started out heating with a wood stove and about 100 gallons of oil in our “back-up” furnace each winter. Eight years ago, we installed a pellet stove that burns 3-4 tons per winter. The easy automation of the pellet stove cut our oil use to an average of just 60 gallons per year over that time.
Wood and pellets have been the least-cost heating fuel over the past 22 years of living in this house. When oil fell to less than $2 a gallon last year, it was tempting to just turn up the thermostat, but we continued to burn wood pellets instead, keeping our heating fuel coming from local sources. We try to live by the principles of being local and sustainable, so long as we are able to lift and carry the bags of pellets each winter.