What about space heating?
We've lived in this house since November, and it is now nearly June. Electric consumption during the space-heating period
(November 20 through March 25) was 209 kWh per month greater than the
average since then. This implies an annual space heating load of 836
kWh, significantly less than the forecasted 1,339 kWh.
Why is space heating energy so low?
Our mild climate is the significant factor. The average annual
temperature is 61 degrees. We rarely see
overnight lows below 30 degrees, and more often they will be 40 degrees or
Perhaps equal to this is the way I built the house. I did
everything practical and many things impractical to make it energy
efficient. Detour here to see more.
What about air conditioning?
Some allowance was made for this load. But early observations of
the house thermal performance suggest that we may never need air
conditioning. Here's why:
Unlike most areas, our evenings are always cool. On the
hottest days, a dependable cool ocean breeze begins before sundown and
high radiation cooling is a nightly phenomenon. Closing the house
through the heat of the day keeps interior temperatures comfortable. Opening it in the evening for cross ventilation
counters the small daytime temperature rise. This simple procedure
maintains interior temperatures within a few degrees of a multi-day
We tried this during a hot spell last October. It really works.
| This chart of
production and consumption is only the introduction to a long story, but
it inspires optimism. On the down side, the equipment is new and
performing at its peak. It will degrade in years to come. And
the evaluation period so far has been during longer days of the year. There will be shorter ones.
On the up side, production has been limited by our seasonal overcast at
this time of year. The best weather is yet to come, and winter days here,
though short, are most often clear and cool.
Based on the extrapolations shown in the sidebars,
our total household, space heating, and DHW load might be 11,770 kWh. This is comfortably below the extrapolated production, but is
3,788 kWh more than
the forecasted production of 7,982 kWh. Now consider this:
|Consumption includes resistance-heated DHW not
originally forecasted but . . .
|Production forecast was very pessimistic, may realize at least 2,000
|Must pay SDG&E for 365 kWh annually, whether used or not.
|System easily expandable by additional 1,000 kWh, or by 2,000 kWh
with a little more effort.
From the above, it looks like an expanded system might serve our entire load including
DHW, especially if we don't need air conditioning or are willing to sweat
a little on the hottest days.
Extrapolating the chart data as of May 25 predicts the following annual amounts:
System production: 12,298 kWh
DHW consumption: 5,015 kWh
Other consumption: 5,919 kWh
System production will almost certainly be lower than the extrapolated
amount as aging and abbreviated winter day length take their tolls.
My original sizing concept
did not expect resistance water-heating and allowed only 551 kWh to support solar thermal
collectors with COP of 8.0.
However the extrapolated household load, including clothes drying but not
space heating or cooling, is significantly less than the forecasted 6,993 kWh.