9 Simple Steps to a Carbon Neutral Home


Blog Post by SCGH

Brandon Cheshire, Owner & Chief Technical Officer at Arizona-based SunHarvest Solar, recently spoke with SCGH about the benefits of going solar. During the interview, we discovered that his home is not only solar powered, it’s carbon neutral. This means it’s completely energy independent and emissions-free. Here’s how he did it.

Besides installing your solar system, what other upgrades did you make? 

1.       LED light bulbs. First thing I did was decrease my lighting demand by switching all my high-use lights to LED. That reduced my lighting energy demand by about 35% since I previously had CFLs installed (replacing incandescent light bulbs would have resulted in 95% savings). This is a great investment because the LED lamps last over 20 years! SunHarvest can provide this service for our customers if it is not something they are comfortable doing themselves.

2.       Insulation. I hired a contractor to install radiant barrier and extra insulation in my attic. This process was not very expensive, and a difference was noticeable immediately. My home remains 15-25 degrees cooler/warmer than the outside temperature without A/C or heating! Installing these products saved me another 30% on my cooling and heating costs.

3.       Energy controller. I installed a KVAR Energy Controller which optimizes the way all the motors (fridge, dishwasher, etc.) operate in my home. The manufacturer guarantees a 6-12% savings in energy and backs the product with a 90-day money back warranty. You can actually see it work by looking at your utility meter, it’s pretty cool! We are a distributor for KVAR and can also provide this service for customers.

4.       Tankless water heater. Just after I installed the KVAR, my water heater started leaking, damaged the drywall, and provided me with the fine opportunity to install an EcoSmart tankless water heater. It has a lifetime warranty on the entire product, is very simple to install, and eliminates any wasted energy. It turns on as soon as you want hot water, on demand. This has saved me an additional 20% in energy costs, and SunHarvest offers this installation service.

5.       Sun screens. I also installed solar sun screens which block up to 90% of the sun’s heat. This also keeps my house cooler during the summer, saving 10% on additional cooling expenses. SunHarvest is certified to offer this service with a local Aluminum Screen Manufacturer and Phifer Suntex heavy duty shading fabric.

6.       Smartcool compressor optimization. Next, I installed a Smartcool system outside by my air conditioner. This is an amazing product! It truly is smarter than I am. It works by maximizing the efficiency of your air conditioning system, making it cycle less. It runs longer at times and shorter at times, but it reduces the overall run-time of your air conditioner. This product saved me an additional 15% on my cooling and heating energy use. SunHarvest also provides this service.

7.       IceCOLD technology. I coupled the Smartcool installation with another product that is actually injected into your cooling system. This product is called IceCOLD, and it changes the molecular composition of your coolant, broadening the surface area, acting as a catalyst, and making your air 3-4 degrees cooler! I am no scientist, but the math shows I am saving an average of 10-30% energy usage, depending on the outside temperature. We work with an IceCOLD rep to install this product, since it is a very difficult material to transport. That being said, we would be happy to facilitate for any customer who wants it.

8.       No brainers. Otherwise, we just turn lights off when we’re not using them, eliminate vampire loads through plug strips, and keep our home comfortable at 79-80 degrees during the summer. We have a solar panel salt water chlorinator that just floats in the pool, reducing our pool pump run-time. We compost everything we can, recycle 98% of our waste, and ride bikes or use public transportation whenever possible. We also save money driving a hybrid, averaging 51.5 mpg. We planted shade trees, and installed low flow water fixtures to conserve water also. We love living green!

9.       Reciprocity. Making our home carbon neutral has been a process to say, but not an expensive one. There los of rebates and tax credits to take advantage of, and I just started a cycle of reciprocity with the government. I try to take the tax returns that I achieve through renewables or conservation, and recycle them into more renewable or conservation home improvement projects. It has been working well for me since 2011.

If you’re local to Arizona and are interested in making upgrades to your home, get in touch with Brandon and learn more about SunHarvest Solar here.

For related articles, see:
Four Steps to Becoming a Renewable Energy Resident
Renewable Energy at Home
Wind Turbines: Not the Perfect Fit for Your Home
Is Solar Energy Right for You? 

© 2013 SCGH, LLC.

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