Monday, April 20, 2009

Performance So Far

Spring is, well, springing up here in Maine. At 9:00 this morning it's bright and sunny, and the outside temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Almost all of the snow has melted, except for one  small mound perhaps 6 feet long and 2 feet wide that lies in the perpetual shadow of the north side of the main house. 

In the Barn it is a cozy 68 degrees, with no heating except the sunshine pouring in the south-facing windows.

It is almost 6 months since the Barn systems were turned on last October, and it seems time to assess performance so far.

Most important to me, the Barn has been a pleasure to live and work in. It has been comfortably warm all winter, even during record-setting cold spells. The systems have worked flawlessly, with no breakdowns or failures. The structure has held up to extreme weather, including impressive snowfalls of up to 2 feet per storm, and several feet cumulatively.

As of this morning at 9:00 AM, the solar electric panels have produced 2521 kilowatt-hours of electricity since being "switched on" last October. The barn itself has consumed 953 kwh during that time, for a net surplus of 1568 kilowatt-hours. I find this remarkable, given how cold this winter was.

Those surplus 1568 kwh translate into nearly 3000 pounds (more than a metric ton) of carbon that will not be needed from a coal-fired electric generating plant.

More directly, the Barn's energy surplus is reducing our use of grid power at the main house -my electric bill this past month was $11.00, compared to nearly $130 this same time last year.

Soon we plan to have the Barn's energy performance tracked continuously on our website, so anyone can monitor our results.

So stay tuned - there's much more to come.
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