Paso Robles house

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Owners Michael Brown
Location Paso Robles, Califonia
Country United States
Type Sustainable renovation project
Owner Web Site
Owner contact Mike Brown [email protected]

Summary of house features

  • Solar panels, grid interactive. 25 Sanyo 200W panels, 5kW


We bought this 1670 sq ft, single-story house in June 2007 in Paso Robles California, in the heart of the Central Coast wine region. One of the first projects I wanted to complete was the installation of a solar photovoltaic system. You can read more about my thinking about solar power at the first link below. I wrote a program to display the real-time and historic power generation data - go to the first link and click on the big screen shot to launch it.

Since my house roofline runs North-South, we had to go with a ground-mount system. Luckily we had enough room on our 2 acre lot to find the perfect spot. I did the prep work in July 2007, and the system installation was done September 17-26, 2007. After months of planning and a week of installation, we powered up the solar system and my electric meter immediately started running backwards.

Other green living factors we are doing in our lives:

  • My wife is retired and I work from home for IBM, so we have no daily commute, saving on buying gas, wasting time, clogging roads and emitting greenhouse gases
  • We use B-20 biodiesel fuel in my wife's VW turbo-diesel Beetle, getting 49 miles per gallon on the highway
  • We only use compact fluorescent light bulbs, including outdoor spotlights
  • We use an Energy-Star refrigerator and washing machine
  • We have ceiling fans in every room
  • The house has excellent wall and attic insulation and has a West-facing overhang, blocking hot afternoon sun
  • Recycling is excellent here. I take all paper, cardboard, plastics and metal to our local recycling center. Drink bottles and cans are recycled and deposit paid back.
  • I declined to get garbage service because we recycle so much. I'll take the non-recycleables to the landfill once a year or so.
  • I rebuilt the wood burning fireplace piping to bring it up to code and make it safe. We expect to heat the house with fallen tree wood alone, avoiding use of the existing propane heat system.

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