Newport Solar owner and founder Doug Sabetti and his wife don’t pay for their electricity… at their house nor at “Doug’s Yurt”.
14 Vernon Ave.
At their home in Newport, a solar array provides 100% of their electricity. This house is connected to the grid; when they over-produce electricity it goes out onto the grid and their meter counts down, creating a credit. At night they import power from the grid and their meter counts up. Overall, they produce more than they consume; their electric bill is $0.00 per month.
They have 12 solar panels on the south-facing roof of their 1,500 square foot home, which generates all of the electricity they need. Just as important as their solar electric production is their ability to keep the house electric consumption low. They do this in a few simple ways:
- Only running lights in the room that they are currently occupying
- Making sure all of their lights are low energy use Compact Fluorescent Lights (CLF’s) or Light Emitting Diodes (LED’s)
- Putting appliances such as televisions, DVD players, and printers on a switchable power strip, which they turn off when items are not in use
- Heating their domestic water electrically with an air-source heat pump, which is much more efficient than traditional electrically heated water
- Using only Energy Star appliances such as their dishwasher, clothes washer, clothes dryer, and refrigerator
Now, isn’t that cool; wouldn’t we all like to file away our monthly invoice without sending any money to the utility? Did you know that some people don’t even have an account with the utility? Some solar homes don’t buy and sell electricity to the utility in a Net-Metering agreement; they produce and store their electricity on-site. These homes are considered “Off-Grid”.
“Doug’s Yurt” – Their “Off-Grid” Yurt in Utah
In rural southeast Utah, Doug and his wife have a 500 square foot Yurt powered entirely by the sun.
There are no electric poles or power lines running to or from the building. The solar panels are connected to batteries and a load center that runs electricity to lights and power outlets inside the yurt. During the day the solar panels charge the batteries and power appliances directly; at night the batteries output stored energy to run lights and appliances.
Even though Doug and his wife are conscious of their electricity use in Newport, they are more conscious about energy use at the Yurt. They do not have the utility there to “back them up” if they use too much power from the batteries.
In addition to producing and storing electricity at their Yurt, they also use other strategies to reduce input from the outside world and remain sustainable:
- Use a wood-fired stove for cooking and heating from natural deadfall.
- Heat water from the stove and the sun
- Use rechargeable batteries for tools and small appliances charged by solar panels
- Use a composting toilet
- Use gravity-fed water, where possible
In addition to these simple strategies, they are conscious of when they do things:
- Pumping water and charging computers when the sun is shining
- Showering in the late afternoon when the sun has heated up water
- Charging extra batteries in the afternoon when the primary batteries have been fully charged by the mid-day sun
They find living harmoniously with the natural cycle of things easy and pleasant.