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Residential Spotlight: The Barnes Home
We all have our “If I knew then, what I know now…” stories, and Hank Barnes’ solar story is one replete with lessons learned. However, he shares it without remorse, but rather with wisdom gleaned from the experience. In 1994 when the Barneses were planning a new home on a beautiful piece of land on Eden View Road in Black Mountain, Hank realized that the site and house plan they chose, with an A-frame design that his wife desired, could be made ideal for solar energy. While his knowledge of solar was minimal, Hank always liked the whole idea of self-sufficiency, and part of that for him was trying to reduce his dependence on the power company for energy. At that time there was not a lot of solar applications being commonly used, and so he did his own research and adjusted the design of the house for passive solar features and for the possibility of future solar expansion.
With a compass and a map of magnetic declination, he oriented the home to due south to his best estimation, and was pleased to see that he was pretty close after the house was built. Recognizing the expanse of windows in the A-frame offered a significant opportunity for passive solar thermal management, he looked into adjusting the overhang but was concerned about increasing it too much, as the area is prone to very high winds in the winter. To reduce the impact of any additional wind stress, his contractor did install hurricane clips on this section of the roof. It turns out that the extra overhang he did implement was ideal to allow winter sun in for heat gain, and exclude summer sun for keeping the interior cool. In fact, the whole- house attic fan that he installed to remove excess heat that he thought might collect in the loft bedroom has not been needed.
After settling in the home for a few years, Hank was ready to add a photovoltaic system, and it was then that he realized that some of his best plans were going to have to be modified. The roof expanse of the one story ‘arm’ of the home was where he planned to have solar modules mounted, where they could receive maximum sunlight with the southern exposure. However, two factors did not come into his original calculations; first, during the site analysis, the solar pathfinder indicated that the chimney would provide excessive shading on the array during the afternoon hours, reducing its productivity. (With the DC Optimization that is available today in inverter technology, shading is less of an issue now than it was at the time.) Secondly, that area of the home was designed without an attic, as the interior ceiling follows the roofline. This limited access to the joists for securing the racking system to the roof, along with the shading issue, led to the decision that the roof was not optimal for the installation.
While Hank would have preferred to have the system work where he originally envisioned it, he was amenable exploring to alternatives, and fortunately the site was able to gracefully accommodate a Unirac U-LA ground mount solution. Twenty-eight Kyocera 205 watt LPU modules were mounted in two rows, which were offset slightly to the east to fit in the landscape. This 5.7 kW array is grid –tied through a Fronius IG 5100 Inverter with a buy-all, sell-all meter configuration, as it is a NC GreenPower generating partner. Henry, being retired from the software industry, has kept detailed records of the system’s production since it was commissioned in August of 2010, along with payments from NC GreenPower and the Utility.
As I often hear the question “Will solar technology be better, and cheaper in the future?” from people considering solar, I posed this query to Hank, as he has certainly seen parallel trends in the computer industry. He is well aware that solar technology has made advances and costs have reduced significantly since he installed his system. His response to this was an emphatic affirmation that waiting for something different wasn’t in his interest, and he was pleased that he acted when he was able, seizing the now, so to say. He’d definitely do it again, he said, but would design the house differently knowing what he knows now. Also, he added that he would consider a tracking system for the yard mount.
Given all of the above, Hank says of his solar experience “I am very happy that I am close to net- zero electric energy usage. In recent years it has become obvious that PV energy can help reduce the climate problems that we are facing as well.” After taking a few photos of Hank with his son Lee and rescue dog Chance, I asked Lee if he thought he’d live in a solar home of his own some day. “I hope so,” he responded, adding, “I hope everyone will be.” Thanks to his Dad and other early adopters, and favorable trends in the industry, that is more of a possibility than ever before.
Commercial Spotlight: Christallin
As no one’s story could be told better by anyone than themselves, I was pleased when I reached out to Roy Martina about featuring the solar system that he and his partner Joy recently installed, and he replied that he’d be happy to write it. That story is shared below, following a brief description of their system.
This 20 kW system consists of eighty-four Kyocera KD 245 watt modules that are laid out in two rows on Schletter FS Racking. The arrays face 180 degrees due south and are tilted at 35 degrees to maximize year-round electrical production. This is a net-metered system, but three Xantrex XW Series Battery Back-up Inverters are used, as a battery back-up for critical loads was integrated into the system. Two 1716 Amp-hour Deka Batteries , along with the inverters, are located inside of the garage, and tie into a new 400 amp load center. During utility outages, this system will supply power to designated uses, including refrigerator/freezers, the furnace fan, LED lights, and laptops and router/modem that are essential to their business operations.
The estimated annual production of this system is 25 megawatt hours, a significant offset of the energy usage.
Dancing with the Sun
By Joy &Roy Martina
In December 2012 the Mayan Calendar ended and I got married! My wife is a Master Hypnotist, Business Oracle, Life Coach, Trainer and author and is known in Europe as the ‘Rapid Change Coach’. Her passion is to help people make major shifts and get results in the fastest way possible. She loves assisting them in decluttering their homes, mind and lives.
I have 35 years experience in the field of holistic and preventive medicine and have expressed that expertise in 70 books, with several bestsellers to my name. My book ‘Emotional Balance’ has been translated into 14 languages and sold millions of copies. In China it is still in the top 100, even though the first print was almost 15 years ago.
Joy and I are now in the middle of the launch preparation of our next bestseller presenting a revolutionary approach to weight loss, called “Sleep Your Fat Away”. We have prepared some free gifts for you on www.sleepyourfataway.com and www.christallin.com (here you can get to know more about our work in general).
As newly weds we decided to challenge ourselves, start from scratch and move to a completely new location. As we are trained in the scientific psychic method of Remote Viewing developed by the Stanford University for the CIA and because we could live anywhere we pleased, we asked a former CIA agent to remote view the best location for us to live. His research came up with Asheville as the best location for us. This also happens to be a location that the military see as a safe zone in case of a mayor global crisis. Before January 2013 both of us had never even heard of Asheville; so we went on a recon-mission in March 2013 to scout the area. We discovered a lovely hip place with a strong sense of local community, many spiritual and alternative healers, yoga teachers and a very active beer brewery scene. We felt attracted to this bustling community of diversity with more tattoo and bike shops than we have seen anywhere, an obvious expression of its relaxed attitude to life Now that we live here, we find more reasons every day to love this part of the U.S.
On the 4th of July 2013 (what a memorable day to move!) we moved into our new home in Asheville. We have a home-based business that relies heavily on the internet and cannot afford to have no electricity. At the same time, we set out to create a lifestyle which reduces our carbon footprint and we want to be independent from the grid. This means that we have our own well, we grow vegetables in an Aquaponics-greenhouse and we chose to derive a big part of our energy consumption from solar power. The use of wind energy was discouraged by the experts we consulted, because it would not be very productive in this part of the Appalachian mountains. After some research and consulting with our builder we were recommended to check out Sundance as we were told this is one of the best local companies. Our experience with this company has been superb, they were very professional and patient in teaching us the ins and outs of solar power and advising us on what would be most fitting to our business needs! During the whole process of building a 20 kW solar systems with a 4 to 5 day battery back up, we received regular updates and were briefed all the way until the system was perfected.
Now we are the proud owners of one of the largest private solar systems in the area and that has made quite a dent on our electrical bill (minus 60% average). Most importantly, we have a secured back up system - so when we do our webinars or other Internet activities we never have to worry about a power failure!
We are happy to contribute to the good of the planet this way and soon we will take it further and become owners of a Tesla electrical car, which is almost 100% green as it will be partially powered by solar energy. We sincerely hope that all the rumors and talk of a collapse of the grid are not true. 10 years from now we would like to live in a more stable world, which is greener and where the general population has a heightened level of awareness and responsibility for the planet, so we can safeguard the future generations that come after us.
The truth is nobody really knows where we are going with the ever increasing effects of global warming and as the economy slowly is regaining its strength, what we do know is that if more people who have the financial means would invest in solar power, wind energy, greener cars etc. they would also make a contribution to their offspring and other generations to come. We look forward to seeing more people investing in greener technology and contributing to a less polluted future.
We whole-heartedly recommend Sundance as the go to company for green energy solutions. A project like this is not cheap but it is worth every cent of your investment; just think of it as the legacy you leave to your children. The best inheritance you can give them is a greener and less polluted planet!
Happy September! This month, our Energy Current is also our Cool Energy Tip! Pretty nifty- doing double duty, saving time, saving brain space. It’s also a reprint- so, we’ve got that whole reduce, reuse, recycle vibe also. Yay for us! The original article appeared in Mother Jones in May of this year.
Unplugging These 6 Gadgets Will Cut Your Electricity Bill
By Kiera Butler
We all know we're supposed to unplug our technological gadgets when we're not using them, and back in the days when we only had a few home electronics—a TV here, a stereo there—that wasn't so hard to do. But as our devices proliferate (see chart below), this formerly simple task has become increasingly annoying. Who wants to spend an extra 10 minutes every morning stalking around the house and finding phone chargers and cable boxes to unplug like we're on some kind of weird easter egg hunt? And furthermore, would the energy savings from unplugging really be enough to make it worth the effort? I asked a few experts to weigh in.
According to Bruce Nordman, an energy efficiency researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as a general rule of thumb, the bigger—and older—the device, the more power it sucks up while it's off. So it's much more effective to unplug the decade-old TV in your guest bedroom than the phone charger that you bought last year. Another tip: "When you put your hand on the adaptor, if it's hot, it's using energy. If it's not hot, it's probably not using very much energy."
In general, though, Nordman doesn't believe that unplugging modern appliances is really worthwhile, and he looks forward to the day when "smart" outlets and power strips (which are becoming more widely available) will do the thinking for us. In the meantime, "there's probably better things to do with your time than unplugging things," he said. "You could be changing out your lightbulbs or putting in insulation. That has a much higher return on investment."
But an EPA spokeswoman I spoke to disagreed. She told me that the average household spends $100 a year on plugged-in devices even when they're not being used directly. Nationwide, our idle gadgets and appliances suck up 100 billionkilowatt-hours of electricity—enough to power nearly 8.7 million homes—at a cost to consumers of about $11 billion. In addition to reminding me to choose only Energy Star-approved products, she singled out a few of the most power-hungry devices:
- Cable boxes:The New York Times recently reported that our little cable boxes have an outsized energy footprint. Indeed, the EPA estimates that your box setups use about 500 kilowatt-hours per year, as much electricity as your fridge. If you have more than one TV, you can request a multi-room box, which allows you to ditch all but one of your DVR devices.
- Computers:According to the EPA, computers account for 2 percent to 3 percent of overall household and office energy use in the US. As I've said before, sleep mode is good, but not as good as unplugging entirely. Laptops are more energy efficient, and screensavers save nothing.
- Televisions:As a general rule of thumb, the more giant and awesome your TV, the more power it sucks, and the more diligent you should be about unplugging it. Flat-screen TVs use about twice as much power as their smaller cathode-ray counterparts.
- Audio/video:All those iPod docking stations, home theaters, DVD players, and Blu-ray players add up. Cluster these devices on a smart power strip when you can. Many Energy Star-approved devices maintain their clock settings even when they're powered off.
- Game consoles:People tend to leave game consoles on all the time. A recent Carnegie Mellon University study estimated that power use by home game systems in the US grew by 50 percent between 2007 and 2010 and now accounts for about 1 percent of total household energy use. Interestingly, the same study found that the Nintendo Wii uses significantly less energy than other popular systems (Microsoft Xbox and Sony Playstation). Although many consoles now automatically switch to a power-saving idle mode after a period of inactivity, even "sleeping" games use some energy.
- Digital picture frames.Who woulda thunk it? But since their purpose is to sit there and look pretty all day long like a normal framed photo, their energy use is significant. Find an Energy Star version or just use the old-fashioned kind.
Employee Spotlight: Chris McGrath
This month we have the opportunity to learn a little more about Chris McGrath, one of our technicians, working in the field, installing systems! Chris was born in Norwood, Massachusetts and then lived in both New York State and New England before arriving in North Carolina in 1989. Chris comes from a family of 8, with 5 brothers and sisters that are sprinkled up and down the east coast in Florida, Virginia and Massachusetts. Chris and his beautiful, caring wife, Susan, have lived in Leicester for 18 of their 20 years together. Susan is a certified financial planner/ business owner in Asheville. Chris and Susan have 2 children: ages 13 and 15. The kids are happy in the Erwin district schools.
Chris holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s in Environmental Management. These credentials led to a 22 year career for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. For the last 7 years, Chris has worked to coordinate our state’s endangered species program. Chris has learned a lot about natural resources conservation, policy and management as well as business and government management through those experiences.
Sundance has been fortunate to have Chris working here for the past 18 months, with Chris coming on near the conclusion of his Associate’s degree in Sustainability Technologies at AB Tech. Chris shared this when asked about his inspiration for working in the field of renewable energy- “There is wonder in the natural world that waits to be discovered by us in our lives on a daily basis. Further, I borrow from Theodore Roosevelt to describe my inspiration- ‘The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem it will avail us little to solve all others.’ My work in renewable energy springs directly from my experiences in conservation work, where I believe that our reliance upon fossil fuels exacerbates the fundamental problem.”
Chris also shares that his vision for the planet is “one where people care about the conditions that others live under and we are connected in beneficial networks of people and natural places that enable us to leave behind a place for children and grandchildren that is better than the one we inherited.”
On to the list~
3 words that best describe you: Dedicated, Curious, Active
Currently in CD player: Kids control the music, don’t ask
Reading right now: A Fable by William Faulkner
Favorite scent: Cinnamon Buns
Favorite pastime or hobby: Experiencing the natural world with my kids
Favorite meal: I really like pizza
Favorite word: Why
Last favorite word: Can’t
Last movie watched: Embarrassing but it was “Godzilla”
Person or philosophy most admired: I have always been fascinated and inspired by Theodore Roosevelt. Though he had many faults (as we all do) he accomplished a great deal for the advancement of humanity
Favorite quote: paraphrasing, “The most important rule for intelligent tinkering is: Don’t lose any of the parts.” –Aldo Leopold
Inspiration to share with others: “A great democracy has got to be progressive or it will soon cease to be great or a democracy”- Theodore Roosevelt
Community Connections: Sunergize WNC
The Community Connections feature is always one of my favorites! I love getting a chance to get more familiar with the work of nonprofits in the area and learning of all the really positive things that are happening. This month is no exception! We are really excited to share the work of Sunergize WNC with you!
Sunergize WNC’s mission is to accelerate clean energy empowerment for the well-being of our community. Through the development of community partnerships, grassroots organizing, and educational outreach programs, Sunergize WNC aims to facilitate the adoption of clean energy technology by homeowners, businesses, and organizations throughout the region.
At the heart of Sunergize WNC is the wisdom and experience gleaned by Ned Ryan Doyle, Program director, from years of advocating for clean energy. Ned has been working with solar energy since 1975. Now, more than ever, the technology of solar needs to become widely embraced and adopted. Ready to engage in work that would help solar to spread, Ned began organizing workshops to offer the information and resources that could help people go solar. Ned consulted with Sundance, as he had a strong relationship with Dave Hollister from many years of working together. Sundance brought the experience of winning the contract for the Solarize Asheville Campaign that ran in late 2013 through early 2014. Together, the Sunergize WNC model was created.
There has never been a better time to go solar- check it out at www.sunergizewnc.org. You'll also find a full calendar of Fall workshops being offered in the area.
Please contact us at:
11 Salem Hill Road
Weaverville, NC 28787
Be sure to check out our website for more information and resources~
Stay Connected with Sundance
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National Drive Electric Week
With events across the US, National Drive Electric Week is held to highlight the benefits of all-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric cars, trucks, motorcycles, and more.
A full calendar of events slated for WNC can be viewed here, with a few of the opportunities to learn more about EVs listed below.
“Who Killed the Electric Car?”
Wednesday, Sept 17
Hosted by the UNC Asheville Mechatronics Engineering Program, this screening of the acclaimed documentary will be followed by discussion.
To be held in UNC Asheville Physics Lecture Hall (Rhoades/Robinson 125.) For more information, contact Dave Erb 828-258-7659
“Revenge of the Electric Car”
Thursday, Sept 18
A follow-up to “Who Killed the Electric Car?” this documentary explores how different auto manufacturers are gearing up for EVs. Hosted by the UNC Asheville Mechatronics Engineering Program, this screening will be followed by discussion.
To be held in UNC Asheville Physics Lecture Hall (Rhoades/Robinson 125.) For more information, contact Dave Erb 828-258-7659
Workplace Charging Workshop
Friday, September 19
8:00 – 10:30 am
The NC PEV Taskforce asks “Is your organization ready for electric vehicle charging?” and is offering workshops across the state to assist employers who want to learn more. This region’s event is being hosted by The Land of Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition and the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, and will focus on what companies can do to encourage EVs by providing workplace charging for their employees.
Find more information and register here.
Drive Electric Event
Sunday, September 21
1:00- 4:00 pm
Asheville area EV enthusiasts will be culminating National Drive Electric Week with this event to be held at the Public Works Parking Log on Charlotte Street, where there is a solar-powered charging station. This celebration will offer an opportunity to test drive several models of electric vehicles, talk to owners about their EV experience, and become part of the EV community!
Downtown After 5
Friday, September 19
5:00 – 9:00 pm
DTA5 wraps up another great season with an Asheville-centric show. Asheville Rock Academy is opening for the Asheville All Stars Band, a testament to the abundance of musical talent in Asheville. Wristband proceeds will benefit MANNA FoodBank.
Come out and enjoy a great night of free solar-powered music, and be sure to see us at the solar array and enter our free raffle, with goodies from several of our solar partners, including Mellow Mushroom, Luella’s Bar-B- Que and The Organic Mechanic!
For more details on the festivities, click here.
Making Energy Work
October 1 &2, 2014
“Securing the Future” is the theme of the NC Sustainable Energy Association’s 6th annual Making Energy Work Conference to be held in Charlotte. Convening leaders from the entire energy industry, this conference will be instrumental in providing the context for the future of the ever-changing energy landscape.
The 19th National Solar Tour
The American Solar Energy Society’s annual solar tour offers the opportunity to informally tour innovate solar solutions, with thousands of homeowners and participating. The tour hopes to inspire people across the nation to make sustainable energy choices that reduce costs, support energy independence, protect against power outages, and reduce carbon emissions.
If you have a solar energy system, and would like to participate, it is easy to register your home here. WNC has 5 sites listed, including the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s tracking system, and two Solarize Asheville homes. Details on each can be found by clicking on the inter active map.
Fall LEAF Festival
The 39th LEAF festival is coming to beautiful Lake Eden with the theme of Celebrate Unity, Inspire Every Voice!” With headliners like Rising Appalachia and Bela’ Fleck & Abigail Washburn, and a full schedule of creativity, healing, and fun, it promises to be another great weekend.
We’ll be there again with our solar-powered phone charging station- a service that folks love. See you there- and don’t forget your charging chord!
And looking ahead….
Sunday, November 2
1:00 – 5:00 pm
The WNC Green Building Council is hosting CiderFest again this Fall as it was an incredible sold- out fundraiser for the organization last year. While more tickets will be available (this year it will be held at the WNC Farmers Market) get your tickets early at CiderFestNC.
Sundance is excited to be brining solar energy to power the stage; with the Jon Stickley Trio providing entertainment. Sample craft hard ciders from the region, along with local cheeses and artisan hand-crafted breads and crackers. Demos, pumpkin painting and other activities for kids will be happening as well.
As many of you know, this weekend, in New York City, citizens from all over the country will be coming together to demonstrate their concern for the climate. The march, which will be held on Sunday, is being billed as the largest climate march in history. The idea is that the march will support a United Nations Climate Summit on September 21st- where world leaders and as many as 120 heads-of-state are expected to gather and announce plans for reducing carbon emissions.
U.N. members are working toward a new climate agreement and sustainable development goals to be concluded next year. The march and summit follow a series of recent United Nations scientific reports that conclude “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” and that it is “extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”
Not all of us can go to New York- so- great news! A march in solidarity for the People’s Climate Rally is being organized here in Asheville for Sunday, 9/21, at 1 pm, gather at the Vance Monument in downtown Asheville. Bring your signs, instruments, voices and join in to take a stand for the most important issue we’ve ever had to face.