Reduce Then Produce. Doing Solar Right.

ANSWER THE QUESTION

When you contemplate getting the energy your home requires to provide comfort from the sun you learn pretty quickly just how precious that energy is. You come to this realization when you ask, “how much energy do I use?” It is that same wake up call we got when we started asking, “how many miles per gallon should my car use?” As we learned to answer that question we realized the answer needed to be, “Less!.”

REDUCE

We’re just starting the construction of these delightful solar canopies for a West Hartford penthouse in a building built when the answer was, “As much as we need.” In other words it was built when energy was not a factor in design. In this case, it is in a building that uses electricity for all its energy needs. Ouch!

The first project we did here was to remodel the space to both make it beautiful AND use dramatically less energy. By adding lots of insulation, installing high performance windows, reducing air leakage, and installing efficient heating and cooling equipment, we cut its energy use in half. Here’s that great looking space.

PRODUCE

Now that we’ve reduced the energy load, we’re within reaching distance of actually producing nearly all the energy this home uses (recall again that this is an all electric home). In other words, the two solar arrays are predicted to provide 87% of the annual usage of this home. As the second graph shows, that performance is locked in year after year, and the benefits accrue accordingly.

And let’s remember, these benefits don’t just accrue to the home and its owners. Choosing to rely on renewable sources of energy to meet our needs makes an important contribution to the challenges we otherwise create for our environment and community when we rely on fossil fuels.

AESTHETIC REWARDS

Most solar installations are plopped onto existing elements of the building, usually the roof. They don’t add any additional amenity. These canopies add delightful space and welcome shading to otherwise sunbaked patios on the east and west sides of this penthouse apartment. We chose to use panels that let light through made by Lumos Solar. The shading also helps reduce the glaring and hot western afternoon sun. They also make it inviting to step outside in what now become “outdoor rooms.”

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