I do have A/C, but we try to limit its use. It can frequently go above 100 degrees with 100% humidity in my area during the summer. At night if it's windy and in the 'winter' the A/C is never on. We're also cooling a smaller house. It's around 1500 square feet. My Dad and I are looking into the possibility of setting up some sort of geothermal system to cool the house, but we're not sure how deep we'll have to go to get to that cooler water.
And you can't hardly get away from it either. My house is in a moderately priced planned neighborhood, no house smaller than 1700 sq ft of heated space, all houses have cathedral ceilings, all houses built with the bare minimum of insulation, all appliances the cheapest available, ect. The rooms looked nice, but now that I've lived in it a couple of years I've found that about 300 sq ft of room is wasted. The kids rooms are too small, the living room and master too big. Then there's the whole "second story" that is completely wasted. The AC has a hard time cooling the house, the heater has a very hard time heating the house, the TV has to blare in order to be heard, they even painted the house in a brownish beige that looked really nice but really just means you have to have twice as much lighting on. Oh, and due to neighborhood Nazi rules, no solar panels, ect allowed. They even started giving me grief about by exterior TV antenna, installed before the HOA was actually formed, until I asked them to send me a nice, typewritten letter that I could forward to the FCC when I handed them a copy of the 1996 Telecommunications Act that specifically banned any entity, public or private, from banning a TV antenna, along with a few case studies that showed that the FCC almost always backed the homeowner so long as the antenna is installed per their regs, and usually fined the HOA 10 times whatever the HOA fined the homeowner, AND reversed the HOA-imposed fines, if the HOA harassed the homeowner over the antenna .
I am SOOO looking forward to selling the place in 2 years when both my kids move out, and using the money to build a small, highly efficient house. Even going to try and swing a metal roof with those new solar panels that were designed to fit in the valleys of the metal roof as a complimentary system. Combine that with a rainwater collection system (liked what I saw on a different post here) and I can have a hard working roof on the house! I'm also really hoping that LED lighting is far enough along to run the house on all LEDs at conception. If I can work it right, I might wind up with a house that costs 50 bucks a month and operates like one that costs 1000 a month to run.
Yup, most HOAs have asinine rules about things like solar and water collection. Our next home will not be in a community with such rules in place.
Something I think all cities should be attempting to impose on new single family dwellings is proper solar orientation. All of these houses built on streets running north/south are often built with the worst orientation for efficient heating and cooling. Every window on my home faces either east or west, which means we get maximum solar heating in the summer, and virtually none in the winter. I'd make some joke about the rocket scientist who thought this one up, but I was stupid enough to buy it!
That would mean having a north/south road every, say, 10 houses, with east/west roads every 2 houses. It would also mean some new housing designs to have houses that look good on both sides of the road when all the north facing houses have no windows and the south facing houses are all windows. Definitely need required minimum overhangs, my POS only has 1ft overhangs. I only bought the place because we were at month 6 into the search, living in too small a house, and we were tired of looking. Houses in my area were either new, or really laid out badly. Man I can't wait to begin building my own place! The only bad thing about it, I'm really not looking forward to the kids moving out even though it'll mean far more money available for me and far less hassle.
That would mean having a north/south road every, say, 10 houses, with east/west roads every 2 houses. It would also mean some new housing designs to have houses that look good on both sides of the road when all the north facing houses have no windows and the south facing houses are all windows. . . .
<GASP!> Houses that don't all look the same??!?
The sad thing is that few developers really seem interested in working with such an intelligent concept. So even if municipalities madated street orientations favorable to solar design, you'd still see houses with all of the big windows on the north side and virtually none on the south - if not just as many on the east and west.
It's a long road to home energy self sufficiency and that road is E-W in my case, meaning my full dormer cape style has a perfect, second floor peak to first floor gutter, due south facing roof, pitched at about 45 degrees inclination, but the owner has no capital available this year (again).
Only the fridge and oven lamps are incandescent.
My work shed is solar powered, barely, but I can work into the dark of the evenings, listening to the radio or watching the tv, running small power tools and such, at least two nights a week.
The frog pond has piping and valving in the dam to accommodate future pico-hydroelectric (maybe nano-hydro is more like it). A pelton wheel driving an auto alternator would be a fine assist to the shed's solar.
OMG! I just dug out the electric bills and noticed that in 2005-6 we averaged 517 kWh per month. In the past 12 months that has risen to 540 kWh per month!
We have met the enemy and he is us!
Wake-up time! Get out the ammeter and find those watts!