When architect Charles Roberts purchased this unique property in 2000, the 400-square-foot structure was the cheapest house in Ocean Beach. Not any more.
Today, this historic bungalow conversion provides 1026 square feet of interior space, full daylight walk-out basement, second story, and rooftop view deck with solar access and an energy-smart strategy that employs passive solar, stack ventilation cooling, 1.6 kW of solar PV and a solar thermal hybrid heating system to keep it comfortable year-round -- and at very little cost. A super-efficient condensing boiler saves energy, while his passive solar design invites morning sun into the house on the east; extended roof eves limit south sun to the colder winter months. Typical annual electric bills run $120; gas bills range from $2.30 to a rare peak price of $23 per month.
A Solar Trifecta NORTH PARK
Nestled in an Eden-like garden of North Park, the 10 solar modules atop Una Pierce’s cozy 3-bedroom bungalow are one of a trifecta of solar solutions the retired schoolteacher is using to virtually eliminate her energy bill as she enjoys a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.
The solar gurus at Real Goods Solar – whose founder John Schaeffer inspired the American Solar Energy Society to launch the first National Solar Tour in 1995 – installed the system as the cornerstone of Pierce’s green lifestyle.
Pierce is saving energy by harnessing the power of a tankless water heater to reduce energy consumption by 30%. And she’s introduced simple, passive solar solutions to keep her circa 1920 bungalow comfortable year-round. A solar-powered attic fan keeps her home cool in summer. Her three solar tubes invite natural light into her closet and hallway, while bathing her window-less bathroom in sunlight. They also reduce the need for household lighting. This solution is one safe bet. Her electric bill for an entire year is around $74.00.
Solar Cooking & EV-PV w/ Battery Back-up CARDIFF-BY-THE-SEA
When Charlie and Ann Johnson first installed 2.4 kilowatts (kW) of solar PV on their house in 2004, their new solar solution addressed 90% of their home electricity needs. Then they purchased a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). The carbon emitted from their driving went down. But their electric use went up. Their electric bill, however, has since gone down due to a whole house time of use (TOU) utility discount available for PHEV and EV owners (EV-TOU2).
It was the economic prudence and environmental benefits of going solar that drove Charlie and Ann Johnson to solar equip their home. They now harness the sun’s energy to reduce their monthly utility bill, fuel their plug-in hybrid vehicle and enjoy hot, tasty meals (from steak to lasagna to soups and stews) straight from their trio of solar-powered ovens. And the Johnsons use a solar-charged Enginer battery back-up system stored in the back of their PHEV to power their home in event of power outages.
Solar for Empty Nesters RANCHO BERNARDO
Aesthetically pleasing in a neighborhood with enforced CC&Rs (Codes, Covenants and Restrictions), this lovely Rancho Bernardo household allows its retired owner –a PhD in mathematics -- and his wife to live large on small utility bills. This 1.2kW DC solar-powered home employs ultra-efficient SANYO HIT Power modules to offset 100% of the home’s energy production – even on the warmest of days. And the energy-vigilant practices of owner Dr. Urho Rauhala to properly insulate his home prior to installing solar means he considerably reduced the actual amount of solar energy required to meet his family’s needs. This home solar solution is the smallest eligible for a California Solar Initiative incentive.
Net Zero Energy Beauty LEUCADIA
This spectacular home manifests solar pv, solar-heated water and pool, construction recycling, durable materials, the best Energy Star appliances, outdoor living areas, beautiful dual-paned, low-e glass doors, CALGREEN low water use plumbing, reclaimed irrigation water, indigenous xeriscape landscaping and groundwater recharge. Talk with the professionals who designed and created this net zero energy home about the many incentives its owners have realized in building their dream home. Learn more about the smart design and energy-savvy strategies that allowed its owners to live in comfort and beauty without ever having to pay an energy bill. How? Their system back-feeds the SDG&E meter and – other than fixed fees and public goods charges -- has yet to generate a power bill from the utility.
A Lesson In LEED Gold DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO
Considered the largest *vertical* PV system of its kind in the nation, this solar solution for the 5-story, 88,000 square-foot City College Career Technology Center has few peers.
Two module types create drastically-different arrays – one roof-mounted and two vertical wall arrays. And various tilt angles warrant multiple string configurations. In its entirety, this solar solution is anticipated to generate a whopping 70,737 kilowatt hours (kWh) of clean, renewable energy for City College each year. The building’s integrated approach to energy conservation allows it to use 24.1% less energy than comparable code-compliant buildings.
Overcoming Solar Challenges CHULA VISTA
Rusty Chang yearned for a lifestyle free of utility bill headaches.
“I wanted to quit scrimping on lights, heating and cooling, but we were constantly bumping into second-tier pricing,” he noted.
He also wanted his lifestyle supported with clean, renewable energy. This made his decision to explore the benefits of solar rather simple. It was his installation that was challenging. Maneuvering with solar modules on steeply-pitched rooftops can be difficult, even for the most experienced solar professionals. Toss in the fact that Chang’s roof is tile, and great care was required to make this installation work.
Chang worked with the experts at Sullivan Solar Power to realize his energy objectives. High efficiency Sanyo HIT Power modules were used to optimize power production on his limited roof space. The system seen here is not a split array, but actually two independent systems.
Today, Chang is the energy champion of his Chula Vista neighborhood. “I converted all my appliances to electric except my range top, which remains gas. My average monthly gas bill averages $2 to $3 and my average electric bill now is only the hookup fee to the grid. My neighbors often joke about running an extension cord to my house to cover their energy costs," said Chang. He earns hundreds of dollars in energy credits each year, which keeps his family comfortable year-round.
Solar in the Know: A PhD's Perspective DEL MAR
With a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, San Diego Renewable Energy Society Board Member Kurt Lund understands the value of research. And he’s done his homework in determining the best available technologies for his money. Knowing his circa 1951 home in Del Mar would need an electrical service upgrade to accommodate solar, he engaged Photon Solar Power to upgrade his electric capacity. From there, he installed 5.4 kW of solar PV to complement the solar hot water solution he’d earlier installed.
There’s something invigorating about the salty sea air in coastal communities like Del Mar. But as some coastal residents will attest, moist, salty air can sometimes take a toll on the performance of electronics.
Aleo solar modules -- certified for optimum performance even under salt-laden air found in coastal regions – were selected for the job. While Dr. Lund is consulting with the folks at UCSD on their innovative solar tree project, he very much enjoys the ability to monitor the productivity boosts his SolarEdge per-module power optimizers afford him from his iPhone.
Advanced Solar: PV x 2 and EV-PV SORRENTO VALLEY
Chris Wakeham’s home is a zero carbon phenomenon, featuring solar PV and solar thermal to collectively handle appliance demands, hot water, hot tub and air heating. His family has a solar oven, solar tomato drier and a veritable boatload of water saving devices, including a 1,900 gallon rainwater tank that is used to irrigate their vegetable garden.
Chris and his family were among the first in San Diego eligible to purchase a Nissan Leaf, which came with a free ECOtality charger. “When I first purchased solar (3.8 kW) back in 2003, an electric car was not available,” said Wakeham. “So when we knew a baby was on the way -- and we received confirmation we were getting the Nissan Leaf -- we added an additional 10 Sanyo HIT Power PV panels to our rooftop.”
“The 2.1 kilowatts of PV we added last summer will generate about 3,300 kilowatt hours (kWh) a year, which is enough to drive our Nissan Leaf about 11,000 miles. We have had the Leaf since January 7th and we love it,” added Wakeham. With a new baby, additional energy is inevitably needed, mainly for extra laundry and cloth diapers. “Everyone knows how much energy they can take!” he laughed.
Holistic Solar RANCHO PENASQUITOS
Plan on feasting on a veritable banquet of energy and green living facts when touring the 3.3 kW solar-powered home of early adopter Jeanie “Green Jeanie” Anderson. The engineer and self-described solar evangelist will be discussing solar energy as a means to put an energizing plug into her new electric vehicle, the Nissan LEAF. Anderson’s LEAF – which brought her a new fuel bill windfall this year – was one of the first on American streets in 2011.
“When I sized a solar PV system for my home back in 2005, I scaled it up to fit what energy demands I would need for my theoretical electric car. The solar energy I’m generating means I never have to think about my electric bill again,” she said. And the additional kilowatt hours (kWh) she’s generating with her rooftop solar have been so effective, the energy credits she produces during peak daytime hours allow her to charge her LEAF for free. “On sunny summer days, I can generate a juicy 24 kWh. How many LEAF miles is that? Exactly 100 miles, the range of this remarkable vehicle! I’ll never have to visit a gas station again,” she exclaimed. As one of the first to buy a LEAF, she also earned a free charging station.
Take a virtual tour of Anderson’s home to enjoy an appetizing array of insights to optimize the benefits of today’s sustainable lifestyle, from her energy-savvy home improvements (the home has no heating or AC, yet never gets hotter than 75-degrees), to the natural wildlife habitat in her back yard. For dessert, consume some very satisfying data about the economic incentives associated with harnessing clean renewable energy to fuel your home and vehicle.
Solar Star In A Sea of Homes SCRIPPS RANCH
When John and Laryna Rodriguez made the decision to assert their energy independence, they knew that with a fairly large household and pool, they would need a good-sized solar system to accommodate their energy needs. There was a concern that their south-facing roof plane wouldn’t be able to accommodate the number of solar modules required, nor would their west-facing roof.
When posed with the question west or south, the answer given by Photon’s Pekka Laine surprised them. “I suggested both,” he said. This is made possible with a unique new per-module power optimizer from SolarEdge Technologies, which allows installers to split arrays into optimal south and west facing orientations with a single inverter. “It’s a feature unique to SolarEdge that is cleaner, easier and it allows the homeowners to optimize their power-generating potential. With the right orientation, homeowners can see up to 25% more power by orienting panels in ways that harvest the most sun. This is too cumbersome with the more traditional centralized inverters,” he said.
A solar star in a sea of homes, the Rodriguez’s
3,600 sq. ft. household is now a mini power plant, and they are responsibly
living their lives without worries of rising energy costs -- or how much
electricity they consume.
It’s a clean, energy-smart solution that affords them a better quality of
life, and that serves as a beacon of inspiration to the rest of their Scripps
Cedar Fire Rebuild CREST
When Crest resident Glen Weischedel's Craftsman bungalow burned to the ground during the 2003 Cedar fires, he found the opportunity to build a solar-ready, energy-smart house that not only paid homage to the architectural characteristics of the home his grandfather built decades before, but that harnessed passive and active solar techniques. Wrap-around verandas are oriented to welcome morning sun to warm the home, then block the hot mid-day rays. The angles of the south-facing rooftop are oriented to allow for optimumenergy production, and a second-story balcony is plumbed with an outdoor faucet to allow for easy roof access and cleaning. (Solar panels are like windows. A good cleaning optimizes their functionality.) Solar hot water panels are installed where rooftop space is limited, and solar PV where the hip roof allows for larger arrays. A recent UCSD study shows that rooftop solar not only reaps tax credits and saves on energy bills, the arrays serve as insulators, keeping households up to 5-degrees cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. “Designing an energy-smart home from the ground up is a faster, more straightforward process,” said architect Charles Roberts. “Laying wiring, conduits and initiating proper roof prep while the house is open translatesinto up-front efficiencies (and savings) that everyone can appreciate.”
Multi-Family Solar Water Heating MISSION VALLEY
The Board of Directors of the Mission Heights Homeowners' Association is finding innovative ways to cut operating costs, lower carbon emissions and create a differentiator among condominium complexes that quickly attracts conscientious buyers while slashing utility bills. In evaluating available improvements, the homeowners’ association decided to invest in a technology where the water is warm – solar thermal.
And their decision is reaping dividends that are off the charts. With three independent solar systems comprised of 72 solar collectors (panels) connected to 2,275 gallons of storage capacity, the association’s three solar-equipped complexes are providing residents with a collective 3,800 gallons of hot water per day. Using solar to heat that water is saving owners a whopping $10,995 a year.
The project’s substantive results made it the first in the SDG&E service territory to earn a California Solar Initiative incentive, which brought the association bonus checks totaling $79,055 this summer. The estimated 25-year savings for the project is $695,443. Projected environmental benefits are equally as impressive. Solar heated water is cutting natural gas consumption at Mission Heights by 10,276 therms per year, and CO2 emissions by 60 tons per year. And it’s inspiring homeowners associations across the County to dip their proverbial toes in the pool of savings associated with solar hot water.
Solar Training Ground CITY HEIGHTS
In a unique partnership among San Diegans, the Community College District and a non-profit called GRID Alternatives, low income families are realizing lower utility bills as eager students of today's solar technology learn the technicalities of the trade from certified professionals. It's a program for affordable solar that's changing minds about the benefits of distributed generation. And it's providing boots-on-the-roof training that helps qualify young professionals from Cuyamaca, Southwestern and Mira Costa Community Colleges (along with Urban Corps of San Diego and Troops to Energy recruits) for the advanced energy jobs of the future.
One of the sites among San Diego's Sweet Solar 16 is a GRID Alternatives-organized installation in City Heights. It became solar-equipped via GRID's boots-on-the-roof field training, and the homeowners benefit from a new clean energy generation system they couldn't otherwise afford. The residents love the lower energy bills, our communities are cleaner for it, and solar students meet with licensed professionals who give them valuable training well beyond what the classroom offers.
Split Array with $0 Down POWAY
and Liz Andruss moved into their home near Poway’s Stone Ridge Golf Course earlier
this year wanting to create a sustainable lifestyle for their family that
was green as the fairway views they enjoyed from their 2,600-sq-ft. household.
they soon discovered their home wasn’t built with an eye to energy efficiency.A
mutual friend introduced them to Photon Solar Power President Pekka Laine.“As a GC, when I go into a house, I’m not
thinking about the maximum amount of PV I can sell, I’m trying to identify
their needs and optimize a solution that meets their objectives. I evaluated
their home energy situation and learned this couple was thinking very seriously
about adding an electric vehicle in the future.But like most of us, they also wanted to responsibly manage their
finances and investments,” he said.
With an eye
to energy efficiency, the general contractor put together a proposal to upgrade
the electrical service, replace their energy hog pool pump and heater, and
provide them with 5.5 kilowatts of state-of-the-art PV that in the future could
offset energy for their EV.With their
terrific credit, the family qualified for a zero-money-down, 12-months no payments
promotion for the entire home improvement package.
“An industry rule of thumb is that for every
$1 spent on energy efficiency, $3 is saved on the final solar system costs. And these improvements will pay dividends for
years to come,” added Laine. And to address concerns about rogue golfballs
hitting their new solar system, he used Aleo solar modules.“Like Mercedes and BMWs, their sturdier, 50mm
frame dimensions provide a secure stronghold for rogue golf balls that may find
their way just a little off course.”Life for the Andruss family, however, is right
on the green.
Solar Family Fun BIRCH AQUARIUM AT SCRIPPS, LA JOLLA
Solar fans of all ages were invited to experience an exciting, interactive exhibit known as Boundless Energy at La Jolla's Birch Aquarium. Boundless Energy demonstrated how folks of all ages and geographies can harness the renewable forces of the wind, sun and waves to power our lives -- and empower our communities toward a more sustainable energy future!