The house has aluminum siding and trim, a big money-saver on painting as well as a good way of tightening it up to reduce drafts. We had insulation blown into the walls shortly after we bought the house, and a recent energy audit indicates that it is still in good shape. After the audit, a contractor plugged up holes between the basement and the first floor and other holes in the attic, added insulation here and there, and made the house even tighter. We also have tightened up all of the windows and storm windows to reduce drafts.
The roof was recently replaced (removed all previous shingles and put up new plywood and shingles), and the furnaces (one for the house and one for the added playroom) are modern, highly efficient gas furnaces that produce hot air heat. Programmable thermostats help save energy. Because there are two furnaces, we can keep the main part of the house at a lower temperature when we are using mainly the kitchen and playroom, another energy-saving strategy. We have never needed air conditioning because we close up the well insulated house during the heat of the day and open it up, using an exhaust fan, during cooler night. If global warming makes air conditioning necessary, it will be easy to add to the hot air system.
The pictures above show the solar panels that were installed on the west-facing roof of our house and the south-facing roof of our garage in 2012. Since May, when they came online, our electric bill has been $15.85 each month -- just the charge for access to the grid and other fees. We expect that the solar panels will produce enough electricity to supply almost all of our needs for the year. We save as much electricity as we can by using fluorescent and LED lights throughout the house and turning them off when they’re not in use.
Scroll down to see the two furnaces and some of the electrical stuff.