Carbon production at the new house

Does not include work travel.

Does not include work travel.

The first six months at the new house have been interesting in terms of energy use. Overall, we’re holding steady at about 1450lb/mo – on track for 4 tonne/person this year. Though winter’s coming up, and that’s likely to skew the trend upward due to winter heating.

Electrical usage went down almost exactly what I thought it would – we switched from an electric water heater to propane – and we’re now averaging around 225kwh/month (with a huge spike in June/July when it was 100+ for days on end and we didn’t have adequate ways to prevent solar gain in the sunroom and warm air from rising to the upstairs).  We’ve had a rotten time getting DTE to read the meter correctly – they’ve read it wrong 3 of the 6 months so far, which makes me wonder how off the June/July reading is. So the figures below are mostly my own readings of the meter.

It’s also December, and we’ve not had to turn on the propane furnace yet. We’ve used about 1/3 face cord of firewood, and the sunroom does a fantastic job heating the house when it’s sunny. This not only saves propane; it saves the electricity for running the blower. This shows up very clearly on the graph of our electrical use in the last five years:

Our drive to work is about 6 miles longer each way now, but for whatever reason (terrain?), the car is getting about 5mpg better gas mileage on this commute. There’s no denying that we’re driving further, though – average of 1250/month instead of 800-900/month.

Still, overall, from June 1-Nov 30, our carbon this year is below the average of the last 5 years.

If we’d been able to avoid that huge electricity spike in June/July, we probably would have broken our all-time low carbon for this time of the year by 1000lb. And I’m confident we will be able to avoid using A/C almost entirely once we get the ventilation in the sunroom situated and are able to seal the vents to the upstairs better. I am also sure we will drastically reduce our winter carbon over previous years due to wood heat instead of propane. I’m sure at some point this winter, we’ll need to turn the furnace on, but I think we’ll be able to keep usage way lower than the last house…and maybe even keep the house a little warmer, too. It was getting to be a wrench to feel chilly all the time.

So, despite moving a little further away from work, it’s looking like this move will be carbon-neutral or possibly even carbon-negative. It sure is nice to have the place stay cool most of the summer with no air conditioning – our cool burrow in the shady hillside is great for that!



  1. Ken said,

    December 3, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    marvelous! i look forward to hearing more as you accumulate more data and continue to refine the features of the house!

  2. ahautevoixdotcom said,

    December 4, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Oh, interesting! For the summers, was the solar gain from radiated heat? Because I remember you saying that there was not direct sunlight coming in.
    I’m excited to learn more about what happens in winter! Adventures!

    • Emily said,

      December 4, 2012 at 5:02 pm

      Yes, we really need to seal up the vents from the sun room to the upstairs. While it never got above 95 in the sunroom (which is pretty good for a sunroom with no shades in a 100 degree summer!), that’s still too much heat to let leak into the house. New skylights, with shades and screens, are on the docket for spring, to, so hopefully we can keep the temp in the sunroom down, as well.

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