March Cold Frames: March is harvest time in our cold frames. The lettuce on the right was planted and cut several times last fall. It rests during December and January, but then re-emerges in February.
While warm-weather vegetables can't be planted until mid-June, it's great to begin to see our cool-weather crops happy and healthy in the early spring.
March, 2010 Power Generation: We generated 478 kWhrs in March...a strong month in spite of rainy days.
2009 Power Generation: We did it - 4.573 MegaWhrs of electricity generated by our 4.2 kW array in 2009! December of 2009 saw 292 kWhrs generated. Our array is 15 years old and shows no indication of reduced output. Now on to a productive 2010.
National Tour of Solar Homes: We were part of the nationwide open house on Saturday, October 3rd. The American Solar Energy Society once again organized it with direct support from NESEA (Northeast Solar Energy Association). This was a chance for visitors to see a home that has been harvesting the sun for 15 years - offsetting CO2 and other toxic gases. We were pummeled with heavy rain and thick clouds, but an intrepid group showed up from as far away as New Jersey and Connecticut. I spent some time explaining our battery backup system, not realizing that later in the evening a T-storm would knock out grid power. As of this writing, we are the only house for miles with electricity. Hail to our stored solar power!
December, '08 Ice Storm Kills Coastal Power Grid: We, like many New Englanders, lost our grid power during this year's devastating mid-December ice storm (we were off-the-grid for three days, others suffered through seven days of outage). However, unlike many of our neighbors, we lived comfortably in our home thanks to our backup inverter system.
The backup inverter automatically took over the powering of 'necessary' loads in the house when the grid died, which meant that we had lighting, refrigeration and water throughout. The day following the storm we switched the solar panels into the backup system so that the batteries would maintain their charge.
Learn more our about our system.
The colder the weather, the warmer we are! The winter of '07/'08 was a hum-dingah - an old-fashioned Maine winter with 100 inches of white stuff. Fortunately, heating our home with the Sun is one of the benefits (and pleasures) of a solar structure...particularly in the winter.
Recently, I saw a neighbor's heating oil bill...over $750 for the month of January! While that is definitely painful for the homeowner this winter, what will his bill be like 5 or 10 years from now?
Our home does not fear the winter snows. In fact, the colder it is, the clearer the skies. Yes, there are periods of cloudiness but a crisp winter day allows the solar aspects of the house to shine. The Sun will deliver its energy at no cost -- definitely the best way to power and heat your home!
National Tour of Solar Homes 2008: A sunny day greeted visitors to our home. Here is the folder they took home with them. See you next year?
2008 PV generation: Ten months into 2008 shows 4,116 kWhrs of electricity generated - keeping us on course for a 4,500+ kWhr year. In October, we harvested 427 kWhrs. On the right is our April electric bill - $7.76. June was $7.56! Those are very good numbers!
In addition, we are using only sun-provided hot water this summer. More than enough for lots of showers, baths and manual dishwashing (I know, I'm a little over-the-edge).
Visitors from Saudi Arabia: From time to time, folks drop by to see our home when they can't make the National Tour of Solar Homes scheduled on the first Saturday in October. In this case, Prince Sultan bin Salman, his son and a Saudi construction executive were welcomed by our family. Our architect, Steven Strong, joined the gathering.
The prince had seen the Maine Solar House on the Internet and was well aware of our seven dollar electric bill - the power of the Internet is amazing!. He was most interested in how our equipment worked and plans to update his farm with solar thermal and PV panels. He is keenly aware that oil is a finite resource and should not be squandered when renewable sources are available to power and heat our homes. Last year, Saudi Arabia saw very cold temperatures in the interior of the country.
Prince Sultan, grandson of the first monarch of Saudi Arabia - King , received his master's degree from Syracuse University and flew as Payload Specialist on a shuttle flight in 1985 launching the Arab world's first communications satellite. You can learn more about him here.
A record year: Our PV roof provided us with 4,707 kWhrs of electricity in 2007...all free from the Sun. That's the largest annual amount since our house went online in 1994. The numbers also show that our system has not degraded one bit in the last 13 years. Solar living just continues to get better.
October, 2007 - A Busy Renewable Time: We hosted two sets of 9th graders from our local high school this month...all eager to know about the technology and how they can apply it at home and at school.
Then the local paper, the Kennebunk Post, published two articles in as many weeks on local renewable energy installations...one on our home and the other on the addition of a wind turbine at the Bush compound in Kennebunkport.
Tour Time 2007: On October 6, 2007, thousands of Americans opened their energy efficient, solar, wind and renewable energy powered homes and businesses to show their community how to incorporate energy saving technologies into their own lives. We were one of 60 homes in Maine that welcomed visitors. It was a great sunny day to display the environmental and financial benefits of solar. Thanks to those who came. Listen to a podcast of their reactions:
Green Building Conference Visit: As the summer of 2007 wound down, some 40 attendees from a conference on zero-energy buildings" in Portland, Maine, visited our home. Architects, builders and developers listened to our architect, Steven Strong, discuss the details and philos-ophy associated with our solar home. Go to our podcast page to hear their comments.
Home Power Magazine's Senior Editor, Ian Woofenden, pays us a visit: We were pleased to welcome Ian to our home on a recent hot June morning. I showed him the equipment (how many times has he seen solar equipment?), explained how it worked (come on Bill, he knows how it works). His visit was in part to prepare a followup article on our 13 years as renewable energy 'pioneers.' You can read the article here. We then settled down for a comfortable chat regarding solar power. I invite you to visit our solar podcast page to hear that conversation.
UN Report on Climate Change: The facts are disturbing and the predictions are bleak. Read the summary report.
Our home seen on a PBS NOVA documentary: In the fall of 2006 a production crew from NOVA videotaped our home, inside and out. "Saved by the Sun" aired on April 24th, 2007, and again in October on PBS. In the accompanying picture, you can see the NOVA crew taping us on a beautiful fall day. It was a major statement on behalf of solar power...worth seeing a replay if you missed it the first time around. You can join our Solar Forum to enter our discussion.
CNN interviews 'innovators' at the Maine Solar House: A production crew from CNN interviewed our architect, Steven Strong (on the right) and myself about the benefits of solar power. This program will be broadcast in May. On either side of the camera is the cameraman and producer/director. Has the Sun really risen on solar power in America? You hold the answer.
A great year of free energy! We've had a fantastic year of energy production along the Maine coast in 2006.
The numbers are in: 4505 kWhrs of electricity generated in 2006 by our roof-integrated solar array.
That's an average of 375.4 kWhrs of green power each month or an average of 12.3 kWhrs each day. On a sunny spring day, the array will generate up to 20 kWhrs. On a rainy winter day, it will still generate several kWhrs.
The story is simple yet overwhelming - free non-polluting, solar energy harvested on a daily basis, rain or shine.
We've detected no reduction in array output over the years. In fact, there is a small increase, likely due to the more efficient inverters we've acquired over the years.
The 2006 National Tour of Solar Homes: October 7th saw a constant stream of visitors, estimated at 120, who understood the importance of reducing our carbon footprint on this Earth. We had visitors from through-out New England and New Brunswick, Canada.
All day long, the PV array was cranking out power. By late afternoon, when the inverters went to bed, we had generated 20.6 kWhrs of free electricity!
Check out the solar poem in our forum, written by one of our visitors.
National Tour of Solar Homes - 2005: October 1st, 2005 was a fantastic day for the National Tour...more than 100 folks came to see, learn and discuss solar power. Most were already committed to sustainable living...but higher energy prices were also on their minds. My thanks to those who came to our home.
Here's what some of our visitors had to say:
Reducing Environmental Pollution: Seldom do we consider the amount of pollution a home releases to the environment...just sitting there, using electricity and fossil fuels.
My architect has calculated the benefits to the environment that the Maine Solar House has made. The numbers are encouraging...no, they're staggering! What's your home's pollution footprint?
Just one solar house can help reduce global warming gases.
Earth Day, 2006: Once again, fuel prices are on the move -- upwards.
The days of cheap energy are over and we're beginning to get our heads around the consequences.
Lou and his crew were great to work with and had done their homework on solar power. Renewable energy is rising higher in the public's mind each day!
Forum: Join in the solar conversation. Helpful users are ready to respond.
Maine Solar Initiative: Governor John Baldacci signed the solar initiative for Maine that grants real dollar rebates for solar installations. Here's what the press is saying:
Saying he hopes to make Maine more energy independent as Independence Day approaches, Gov. John Baldacci signed legislation Wednesday to encourage the use of solar energy by offering rebates on installations of solar hot water and power systems. The new law gives Maine one of the nation's most aggressive state programs to encourage the use of solar energy, according to Beth Nagusky, director of the Governor's Office of Energy Independence and Security.
A new solar unit was installed at the State House to demonstrate the viability of the program. It currently sits between the Capitol building and the Cross Office Building.
It was donated to the state by a group of Maine citizens in an effort to 'jump-start' public and government interest in solar power.
While the array is small, it has had a large impact on those who have not had any previous knowledge of PV systems. In this case, one can walk right up to it and see and hear it quietly harvesting the Sun's energy without emitting any pollutants.
We are on the move! You can read about it here, examine the bill in detail here (somewhat flawed in it's initial writing), read my testimony here and then comment in our forum (the hack has been deleted).
Array Output for 2004: Here it is: 4.6 MWhrs of electricity from the sun. That a new record! It's even better when you consider that it's all green power...no noise, no pollution and free energy from the sun. Other than putting the money up front for the equipment some ten years ago (and a few warrantee-covered replacements of earlier equipment), the sun has provided the fuel each day for free.
A Day in January: On the 22nd, the early morning outdoor temperature was -15 degrees. The sun, striking the solar thermal panels on the roof, quickly increased their temperature to 133 degrees by 8:30 a.m. and the pumps came on to replenish the heat used to heat the house during the night. That heat is stored in two five-hundred gallon water tanks in the basement. By the end of the day, the water in the tanks had risen from 95 degrees to 140 degrees. The house really 'shines' during the coldest of days!
March Array 2005 Output: We generated 456 kWhrs of power in March which was a good month...all green, all clean. Our February output was 375 kWhrs...more hours of sun and better weather makes the difference.Voice of America visits our home - Oct, 2004
Sean Liu, of the Voice of America's Chinese Service, flew up to Maine from Washington to do a report on our home in the fall of 2004.
It was telecast on the Asian Television Service of VoA throughout Asia, and then translated into 53 additional languages for use in the rest of the world. That's an audience of more than several hundred million viewers!
What better way to promote solar power than through an international service like the Voice of America. Of course, you might ask, where are the American commercial TV networks? We've had several cable networks here (as well as magazines and newspapers), but to date ABC, CBS or NBC have yet to discover the topic.
Board of Environmental Protection testimony: In 2004, I petitioned the board to exempt clean diesel-powered passenger cars from a sales ban in our state. Read newspaper articles and my testimony. We received 3 out of 9 votes...a good battle worth fighting.
University of New England Students Visit: Thirteen physics students and their professor visited the house in August, 2004. Lots of questions and answers, and best of all, lots of enthusiasm!
It was one of the few moments this summer when we actually saw the sun! To have green grass in mid-August is not a normal Maine thing.
Read the Boston Globe's article on our home.
November, 2003: 357 kWhrs generated in September - giving us 3,174 kWhrs year-to-date. And our October electric bill was under $8.00. Checking last year's numbers, we're surpassing the 2002 total two months early!
2002 Update: Our PV array generated 3.188 MWhrs (MegaWatt-hours) this past year...offsetting most of our electrical consumption.
Solar Open House: The National Tour of Solar Homes took place on October 5th in 2003. The day started with light rain but just after the tour began the sun came out. We hosted non-stop visitors totaling nearly 100. Thanks for coming and helping us celebrate the value of solar power.
Our Energy Plan: Washington politicians are debating our energy future. While they discuss, it's time for Americans to decide for themselves. Here's our Energy Plan: Keep the "American lifestyle" going by using less petroleum and more renewable energy. Energy once used cannot be reclaimed. Energy use is the Achilles heel of America. We mustn't squander it.
Our home generates its own electricity and hot water using free energy from the sun. And my diesel VW uses biodiesel (a soybean product) to replace petrodiesel. It gets 50 mpg on a trip.
In addition, my wife has a Toyota Prius...a hybrid car that averages 55 mpg. The solutions to our energy problems are at hand. It's up to us to lead the US - we can create our own personal energy plan. Why not start today?