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Our downeast solar home

Resources

 

Here are some of the products and services we’ve found useful.  If you choose to purchase any of them, please use the links we’ve provided in association with Amazon, which will help us support ongoing development of this site.  If you live outside the US, you will probably be able to find the same or similar products from local suppliers.

 

The Home Energy Diet book

This book helped inform our thinking on getting the best energy efficiency from our home. It is a very interesting read and offers plenty of practical advice.

 

 

Kill-A-Watt meter

This is a great way to measure the power consumption of your home appliances.  You may be surprised by what you find, and be able to save significant amounts of electricity.

 

 

SmartStrip intelligent power strip

The SmartStrip is like a normal power strip, except it will turn off all of its outlets automatically when you switch off an appliance connected to its ‘control’ outlet.  It has surge protection too.  Great for getting rid of those phantom loads.

 

 

Temperature logger

This handy self-contained device records the temperate at preset intervals.  Simply plug it into your computer’s USB port to download the measurements. We bought two, so that we could track inside and outside temperatures - this helps us track our energy consumption against changing weather conditions.

 

 

Remote sensing thermometer

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to see heat leaking out of your home? With a thermal camera, you can. Fluke make a nice one for about $4,500.  If your budget won’t stretch quite that far, try a remote sensing infra-red thermometer for about $50. Just point it at an object, press the button, and you get an instant temperature measurement.  Check out your walls, floors and ceilings to find any cool spots which might indicate an air leak or missing insulation.

 

The Kintrex IRT0421, sold by Amazon, is a nice model with lots of good reviews.

 

 

Radon meter

Though not strictly connected with energy saving, if you live in a granite-rich area like we do, then it is important to ensure that radon levels are within recommended limits.  You can buy radon measuring kits, which you use once and then send to a lab to get your results, or you can use a radon meter, which will monitor radon levels continuously, provide a digital readout and alert you if safety levels are exceeded.  We found this meter extremely useful to determine appropriate ventilation levels for our basement.

 

 

LED lighting

We used LEDs in our recessed ceiling lights (a direct replacement for a regular screw-in bulb), and also over our front porch. At just 4 watts per lamp, the energy savings add up, and, unlike compact fluorescent lamps, LEDs work well in cold conditions, such as outdoors in winter.  Make sure you get warm white LEDs, many provide a bright but somewhat unpleasant bluish-white light. We got ours from Starry Night Lights.

 

See LEDs at Starry Night Lights

 

 

 

 

 

Night Sky Friendly lighting

Many exterior lights shine much of their light up into the sky. This wastes electricity, raising utility bills, and it also adds glare to the night sky, washing out the view of the milky way and most of the stars for a considerable distance.  Night sky friendly lights shine all of their light downwards, where it is needed, improving visibility and reducing glare. It makes sound sense to use night sky friendly lighting, and your neighbors will thank you too.

Dark sky friendly lights are available from Starry Night Lights.

 

 

Mother Earth News magazine

A fascinating magazine with lots of practical suggestions for making use of alternative energy.

 

 

Useful links

Maine Solar House - Bill and Debbi Lord’s excellent website describing their solar home (also in Maine)

BuildItSolar - this is a goldmine of energy saving information, with lots of do-it-yourself resources.

Energy Star  - lots of information about saving energy and energy efficient appliances.

Renewable electricity -  change from your electricity utility’s standard offering and sign up for renewable electricity.

Solar insolation maps - find out how much sunlight falls on your location.

Home Power magazine  - full of lots of practical examples of using solar and renewable energy.

Maine Solar Energy Association - upcoming events in Maine and useful links.

Theodore & Theodore Architects - our Maine-based architects did a great job.

 

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