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Old 08-05-17, 02:11 PM   #1
Land owner
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: NM
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Default Looking at getting a new place. Efficiency was an after though

The new place is a pocket listing, belongs to a friend of ours. We may have up to a year to get it. So no rush.
The worse thing about it by far is it's cost 180,000 I just hate the idea of owing the bank that much money again.
But it seems has everything going for it other wise.
A big house 4 bed rooms, 2 full bathrooms, 2 car garage, 2 finished out buildings, a run down metal pipe frame tractor shed that could be made useable again and a 4th building that probably just needs demo all on 19 acres, has a well, it's out of town, able to shoot guns, just no high velocity center fire rifles since there are neighbors, or until silencers are removed from the National firearms act.
It's just me an my wife at the moment and it looks like our family will be growing here soon and that size is perfect for the proposed expansion.

It doesn't need a tremendous amount of work and its kind of out of town.

All appliances are electric. Has septic and city water. Has gas service but it's not hooked up.
There is an irrigation well but it is disused and requires 3 phase power.

Having our own well water is kind of a high priority for me. So I will be looking at ripping out or repairing the the above ground motor, hollow shaft driven irrigation pump stuff and either repairing it and get it going on a VFD powered by 240v single phase or replacing it with normal submerged well pump stuff. That's the first step in going off grid.

This place has electric resistance central heat and central air plus a few not so efficient hidden on/off type splits.
So it looks like I will be ripping out my high efficiency senville inverter 9,000 and 24,000 BTU splits and taking them with me.
If you want to even think about going off grid and still have A/C you have to have inverter units.
I don't mind having the large indoor split unit hanging off the wall.

So the power bill is kind of high. My plan would be get the gas service hooked up, change all appliances to gas replace the less efficient splits with my units.

Back in 2013 I helped my friend expand gas lines to all over his house. He changed his dryer, water heater and furnace from electric to gas, he says it has cut his power bill during warmer months by about 1/3 and his gas bill is maybe $5 higher. So that's my plan too.

The current place we have is small, in the city, fully paid off and not worth that much so we will probably rent it out to friends for cheap.

There is a lot of room for me to put in solar panels. So I would want to do grid tie panels then install more and more panels until one day I can cut the service drop and cancel power service with a big 48v off grid setup.
That's one of the big reasons why I want to get rid of the electric appliances and install my more efficient gear.

A ground source geothermal heatpump is on the table for sure now. I never considered them before because I just didn't have the land. Now I could literally put it anywhere.
What would be the options for installing a outside central air unit that is inverter based and uses geothermal?

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Old 08-11-17, 04:55 PM   #2
Journeyman EcoRenovator
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Arab, AL
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I won't really address the last paragraph / question you proposed, but did want to make a comment or two. My wife and I live on 4.5+/- acres of land that was her inheritance, outside the city limits yet fairly close to town. People around here target practice, hunt squirrels, we are used to the sound of gunfire and fireworks that aren't so welcome in town.

That said, we built our house and outfitted it with gas/electric HVAC. The only other gas items installed are a 50 gallon water heater and a nonvented cast iron gas stove in the living room. Since we aren't in the most populated area, we aren't on top of the repair list when the power fails. Hot showers can be a serious luxury when your power is out.

After we installed 6.8 kW of solar, we had a home energy audit performed so we could determine the size of the new HVAC I wanted. It came up great and the auditor said that if I added 5" more attic insulation, I could go from a 3.5 ton gas/electric unit to a 2.0 ton unit. I immediately had 10" of insulation blown in. (Personal opinion: no such thing as too much insulation) Our new unit is all electric inverter SEER 19, the other # for heat efficiency was 10.x. I don't have that in front of me. So, do an audit first. I had 3 HVAC estimates before my audit. They wouldn't listen when I said my house wasn't a "rule of thumb" house and it's very efficient and shouldn't need a 3.5 ton unit, the old one I had short cycled. Two still said I did need a 3.5 ton unit and the third said I really needed a 4.0 ton unit. Glad they were free estimates. The estimates were worth exactly what I paid for them. $0.00

Our solar arrays are both ground mounted. We change tilt from summer to winter and back on the equinoxes and therefore we typically beat the PV Watts estimate for our location / array capacity. Easier to clean the dust and bird mess off of in the summer and easier to clear the snow off of in the winter. At the summer tilt angle, there is enough clearance to let the mower clippings go under them and not sling stuff against the PV modules.

Having a gas water heater and dryer are good things. They operate cheaper than their electric counterparts. Plus, having gas connected comes with a base charge whether you use it or not. So, your usage charges are minimal and you save far more offsetting your reduced electric bill.

I've owned rental property. It was a learning experience. Don't rent to any friend you want to keep, I promise you will not believe how people act when it comes time to pay the rent. I agree that not everyone is the same. But, when it goes sour, remember not to do it again.

I plan to add a Tesla Powerwall 2.0 as soon as I get some of my other bucket list done. Then, I'll put my entire 200a breaker box on a generator transfer switch and add another 3 - 4 kW of solar. I'll run off the added solar while I sell TVA off the originals, per our contract. When the contract is over, I'll reconsider what options I have.

Our new 2.0 ton HVAC is a Maytag HVAC unit, installed mid-2013. We are very happy with it and it is very reasonable to operate until it gets really cold. Below freezing or so, but in the worst of times, my whole house electric bill in the winter is less now than my natural gas bill was before.

19 acres is a lot of land. You'll either need animals to chew it down, a big honkin' mower, spend a LOT of time working it, or let some of it grow up. That is a lot of work.

Best of luck to you.

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