Thursday, December 8, 2011


Major Appliances
The world of Energy Star appliances according to Jim...

I did a great deal of research before purchasing new appliances for our home. My first goal was to find Energy Star rated ones and the most efficient. Refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers have Energy Star ratings; however, ranges and dryers do not because of the heating elements. Fortunately, I found a range that has technology that is more efficient, having induction cooking that does not use standard heating elements, but magnetic technology and a convection oven that cooks faster meaning less energy to prepare a meal. The clothes dryer’s efficiency is based on how well the clothes washer wrings out the water from the wet laundry and if it has built in sensors to shut down the dryer as soon as the laundry is dry.

Refrigerator: Maytag bottom freezer modelMBR2258XES. This is a no frills fridge with no water in the door. We picked this because we access the refrigerator more often than the freezer and plan on storing more fresh food. It is equipped with humidity controlled drawers that keep veggies and fruit fresh longer. This unit is one of the most efficient around and costs about $43.00 per year to operate.

Dishwasher: We discovered that a dishwasher is considered a luxury item by the State of North Carolina which is only significant because this past weekend Energy Star appliances were exempt from sales tax. This is frustrating because the federal government give an Energy Star rating to dishwashers that meet the criteria. My research discovered that most dishwasher use less water than hand washing dishes. I found that Bosch, a European brand is one of the most efficient made because in Europe water regulations are way more strict than in the US. The model SHE7ER55UC uses around 1.9 gallons of water per full load and even less with its half full and short cycle options. It will cost about $23.00 per year in electricity running about 4 loads a week. I have not factored in water cost because we have a well. Also the cost will be lower if we run the dishwasher at the times our solar hot water system is working.

Range/Oven: This was the most expensive appliance on our list because of the induction hybrid feature. Frigidaire FPCS3085LF. Here is the lowdown on Induction:
1.     The element's electronics power a coil that produces a high-frequency electromagnetic field.
2.     That field penetrates the metal of the ferrous (magnetic-material) cooking vessel and sets up a circulating electric current, which generates heat.
3.     The heat generated in the cooking vessel is transferred to the vessel's contents.
4.     Nothing outside the vessel is affected by the field--as soon as the vessel is removed from the element, or the element turned off, heat generation stops.
Believe it or not, this is not new technology; however, it has been made more efficient. This range also has traditional electronic burners to use until we master cooking with induction.
The oven has a convection feature. Convection ovens use fans to force air movement. By moving fast hot air past the food, convection ovens can operate at a lower temperature than a standard conventional oven and yet cook food more quickly. The air circulation, or convection, tends to eliminate "hot spots" and thus food may bake more evenly.

Clothes Washer: We went with the Samsung WF461ABW.  It is front load (uses less water than top loaded) and it will cost about $9.00 per year to run if we were an average family doing 8 loads a week and consuming 4388 gallons of water a year. Wow, this statistic blew me away! That is a lot of valuable water down the drain. After finding out this number I checked and the average person in the US uses 80-100 gallons of water per day for showers, laundry, and toilet flushing. Anyway, the machine I picked is on the most efficient list.

Clothes Dryer: We went with the Samsung WF431ABW and it has sensor drying. When paired with the above washer it will be efficient. If we hang the clothes on a line will be 100% efficient. Edrianna did request a close line. It is on the project list. 


It ain't over yet.

Our first assignment in the kitchen was to prepare cranberry relish for Thanksgiving. We had dinner with Tom and Kathy at their house in Franklin. No heat or hot water in the house yet, and no appliances - but the electricity works and so do the space heaters. At times we only needed one space heater because the passive solar worked so well and because the house is so well insulated.

Jim is busy painting the bedroom walls. The hatch above him to the right is for our attic crawl space. Since we had to put some sort of hole in the wall  he decided to make it look cool. He made it out of the same boards on the ceiling. It does look pretty cool.

Grey and Sunoor from Sundance Systems arrived on November 29th for their second day of work on the electrical system for the solar.

It started to snow that afternoon so Grey and Sunoor left early so they could safely get off the mountain.

We went out in the evening to take some photos. We had about 2 inches before dark.

Our shower doors were installed on December 2nd. We ordered one for our bath and one for the basement. I didn't get a shower door for the healing room bath - using a curtain instead to add some color - like we need more color!
We added a piece of glass between the healing room and living room. Jim designed a sun burst out of mountain laurel branches. That will go in when he can get to it - not a priority right now.