Craig – Wells, ME

By Solar United Neighbors on May 7, 2024

I really enjoy living in a solar powered home

Craig – Wells, ME

Why did you decide to go solar?

My Uncle Earle did a lot of R&D in wind and solar on the 1970’s and 1980’s, so I grew up around it and watched as the technology evolved over the years. I added DSHW and a few PV panels to my last house, but wanted to do more. Eight years ago I designed and built a small (684 sq ft!) passive solar home (special thanks to Debbie Rucker-Coleman at Sunplans!) that ended up being net positive. I wanted to be energy independent and remove those costs out of my retirement in a few years. Front-loading the expenses of the PV array, superinsulated envelope (R42 walls, R70 ceiling), high performance windows and attention to details paid for themselves in six years. House is always comfortable, burn about a cord of wood for supplemental heat…very easy to blast myself out of the house in subzero weather if I overdo it! Looking at an EV next to use some of my excess PV generation; I have high hopes for an Aptera!

What was the process like for you? Did anything surprise you, or were there challenges you had to overcome?

The biggest challenge was finding someone who would build it. The builders I initially talked to didn’t understand the double studded 2×4 construction and kind of blew me off. The guys who did the build enjoyed doing this project and actually came up with some great ideas that I never thought of, so their input made the house a lot better. They also noticed how efficient it was to build; they usually filled a dumpster or two with their builds, but this one just had a small pile of lumber and OSB offcuts when it was done.

Have any of your habits changed since going solar?

I tend to be a minimalist and watch my consumption of resources carefully. I average between 2-3 kwh of power usage per day, even though I usually produce a lot more power. Still, I’m always looking to make the house more energy efficient; looking into a dual flush conversion for the toilet to further reduce my water consumption even more.

Have you seen electricity savings since going solar? If so, what have you been able to do with that savings?

I was off grid for five years before the utility got close enough for me to tie in, but I’ve never had an electric bill beyond the monthly connection fee. I live on a small budget as well, so I’ve been able to put a lot more into my retirement.

Have you been involved in any solar advocacy since becoming a solar owner?

The American Solar Energy Society and the Wells Energy Advisory Committee are a couple of avenues I am a member of for promoting renewable energy and various programs, such as Efficiency Maine. There’s also the York Climate Action Fair and the Green Home & Energy Show that I like to attend to meet people in various green energy businesses and related ventures.

What advice would you give to someone considering going solar?

I always recommend doing an Energy Audit first to study consumption habits and loads, then determine the need for more efficient lighting, appliances and hot water/home heating systems.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I really enjoy living in a solar powered home and sharing my experience with it!