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  • Episode 17 – Fuel Switch Founders Give Tour of Net Zero Home

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZD7Lf_CpD6g

Fuel Switch founders, Adam Stenftenagel & Clay Dusel, give a private tour of Stephen Price’s Net Zero home. Learn about the emissions-free kitchen (and much improved indoor air quality), the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems, the roof-top solar panels powering the entire home, as well as the electric vehicle that plugs into the system!

Fuel Switch: A Carbon Savings source for a renewable energy home

Get a $50 discount on your initial home energy audit with the code: YONEARTH at GOFUELSWITCH.COM!

 

[thrive_link color=’green’ link=’https://yonearth.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Fuel-Switch-Infographic-Whitepaper-Report.pdf’ target=’_blank’ size=’big’ align=’aligncenter’]Download the Whitepaper Report[/thrive_link]

Transcript

(Automatically generated transcript for search engine optimization and reference purposes - grammatical and spelling errors may exist.)

Hi friends, welcome to the YonEarth Communities Stewardship and Sustainability Podcast

series.

Today we have such an exciting program for you.

I am here with my friend Adam Stenfinegal.

Hey Adam.

How are you doing?

Great.

Thanks for having me.

You bet.

Devoted the bulk of his professional career to helping stop runaway climate change,

specifically working with changes we can make in our own homes to reduce our carbon

footprints to reduce and eliminate our use of fossil fuels.

And Adam has co-founded several companies working on these efforts, including sustainably

built, snug home, snug pro.

And today we're going to be talking about the work he's doing with his colleagues and

partners at FuelSwitch.

And Adam, it's such a pleasure to be with you today and I'm excited to have this conversation

with you.

Thanks me too.

So Adam, I want to ask you before we dive into some of the technical discussion and some

of the opportunities that we all have in our own homes, I just want to ask you, how did

you get into this work?

What drew you in this direction?

Well, long stories.

I'll try to keep it somewhat concise.

But I've always known that I needed to be doing something good for the world throughout

my whole life.

And early on I ended up getting involved in political activism, just generally as an

activist and did a lot of work in the protest movement, but from a media perspective.

So we did a lot of media coverage and helped work on these media centers.

And we cropped Trump all over the world and we'd discover all kinds of struggle in social

justice, to environmental racism, so many different components of things that are going

on in genocide and, man, holy crap, there's a lot of things that are really bad in the

world.

And so that was always an important piece that I was paying attention to.

But eventually, really decided that it's great to be raising hell and screaming and

yelling.

And that's really important.

But I just needed to see the change in my eyes, right?

And we'd actually be sure that I was doing something that affected change.

So I heard from my uncle, was really awesome, it was an inter-design firm in Chicago and

they do a lot of this green building stuff.

And he told me about this report from Edward Masria, this really architected these really

cool studies many years ago about the building industry and what its impact was on climate.

And they did this study that says that 48% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United

States came from the building industry.

I'm like, wow, there's one big thing that's physical, that we can change, that I can

see the change on, I'm going to get involved in green building.

And so that took me down this huge path of all different kinds of circumstances that

came together and eventually started founding some businesses around that and went from

that.

Yeah.

So wonderful, wonderful.

So one of the things I love about the work you're doing and the state of the world at

this very moment is that, yes, on the one hand, we have incredible challenges.

We are confronted by some of the most complex challenges we've ever faced as a species.

However, on the other hand, we have the tools and the expertise needed to resolve a lot

of these systemic challenges that we're facing and with fuel switch, this is very much

at the core of what you guys are doing.

Can you just tell us a bit about the work you're doing with fuel switch?

Sure.

So, the primary premise is that buildings, as I just said, use a ton of energy and have

a big carbon impact.

And that's from the materials that we use to create the buildings, but mostly in the

energy that they consume over the course of their lifetime.

When you build a building, the idea is that building will last a hundred years.

So everything that you do when you do any kind of changes or especially new construction,

it's likely going to be around for a hundred years.

And so that's why it's such a big impact in an important place to focus on.

So what we do with fuel switch is we come into the old homes.

We focus on existing homes and help those homes come up to these standards, modern day

building codes and things like that, but also go all the way to net zero.

So net zero, what is net zero?

So net zero energy means that the building will produce as much energy on site as it

consumes over the course of a year through renewables.

So the key components of that are one to use less energy, so energy efficiency.

So we insulate the walls, we insulate the attic, we'll condition your crawl space or

do all the different kinds of insulation and air sealing in the house.

So that's the number one piece and that brings the need for heat and the need for cooling

way low.

It uses that mean for energy dramatically.

The second thing we do is we eliminate the natural gas in your house because natural

gas is a fossil fuel as much as they say.

It's a clean fuel.

It's not.

The only way of arguments that we can give is to why we need to get rid of natural gas

from being burned in our homes.

And it's a fossil fuel and that means we're producing carbon dioxide and that is causing

climate change.

So we've got to stop burning all fossil fuels.

So natural gas, we get rid of it.

Most people heat their homes through their spacing, the furnaces, the boilers, et cetera

with natural gas as well as their water heat.

We transform all of that.

We take out that equipment and we replace it with air source heat pumps for sometimes

geothermal.

And these systems now produce all that heat and you get the added benefit of cooling

in a place like Colorado where most people didn't have cooling before.

Now we need it.

Thanks to climate change.

So it's one of those things.

We can kill a lot of birds with one stone there.

So we're electrifying, we're insulating.

We're then taking another big step and helping people get into electric vehicles.

Because that's another massive energy use outside of that building industry space.

But the effects of that are huge.

And the economics around electric vehicles are really amazing, especially if you can

then power them with rooftop solar.

So that's the fourth piece of our puzzle as we put enough solar on the roof to cover

all of those needs to cover the air source heat pumps, to cover your plug loads, to cover

all the electrical requirements.

It does your space heating, it does your water heating, and it does your cooling.

And that roof that solar system powers all of it.

Beautiful.

So at the course of the entire year your utility bill is ideally zero.

Yes.

So the four main elements of this sort of transformation and fuel switch would be to

reduce the load with the wrapping, the insulation, the ceiling to switch out basically your

appliances that are dealing with heating and cooling of air and water and so forth.

The PV, or excuse me, the rooftop PV, the electric generation, utilizing this incredibly

wonderful nuclear generator, we all have access to, called the Sun, right, 163,000 terawatts

of energy continually streaming onto our planet since the beginning of the human race and

long before that, there's such an abundance of energy we can all be harvesting.

And so that harvesting with rooftop solar is a third and then the fourth.

Is that the electric vehicle?

Is that the fourth in the puzzle?

Wonderful.

And I was struck by this graphic that I know you guys have on your Facebook page, which

is fuel switch on the Facebook app.

And on here there's a graphic, we'll show it in our show notes.

But I am so struck that when we're talking about things we can do at the individual

and household level, some of the standards that we grew up with like recycling are yes

important to do, but ultimately have really minuscule impact compared to the impact we

can have when we do the fuel switch that you're describing.

And getting into electrical vehicles is another one that is potent and one of the things

I'm struck by as I still own and drive a fossil fuel, combusting vehicle, is that not

only am I continually paying for the fuel, but also for all of the fluids and lubricants

that are needed in that more complex and we could say less efficient in a sense more

primitive way of delivering power to the four wheels.

And boy, that gives expensive at times as well just that ongoing maintenance of that internal

combustion engine.

Yeah, and my favorite data point on that is an internal combustion engine has something

like 2,000 moving parts, an electric vehicle has 20.

So imagine the amount of maintenance and the costs that it is to maintain that gasoline

car, the internal combustion engine, it's a totally different world with electric vehicles

and they're really cool.

Yeah, it's happening.

I love it.

Well, and I'm really excited that today we're here in the home of Steve and Price, one

of your clients and friends and what we're going to be able to do is take a tour with your

colleague Clay Doosel and look at some of the different components and technologies and

techniques that you guys have incorporated in this home, in this remodel project.

So hang tight will be getting to that tour that's going to be a lot of fun.

And I think before we go there, one of the things I want to circle back on Adam is the

element of the indoor air quality as it relates to these issues and these opportunities.

Because I think one of the things that I know a lot of my friends and family may not realize

is that this actually making this fuel switch delivers incredible benefits that go actually

even beyond reducing our carbon footprint as it relates to climate change.

And some of these additional benefits are extraordinarily important in terms of our own

health and well being that of our kids and our pets and so forth.

So can you just tell us a little more about that?

Yeah, absolutely.

So we'll come back to the economic side of things because that's another, that's kind

of icing on the cake as I like to put it.

But the indoor air quality is a huge piece that I learned many years ago in the green building

space.

The materials that we use in our home, off gas and put all kinds of toxic pollutants into

the air.

If you're in an older home and existing home, we haven't done much of that in a while.

It's not as big a deal because you've already inhaled all that and it's already, you know,

off gas, right?

But so there's lots of things that we can do around that.

However, one of the big, big pieces that causes indoor air quality problems is cooking

with the gas cooktop.

And you know, people are like, oh, but I love my gas cooktop, the greatest things ever.

And I'm like, that's fine.

It feels switch.

We don't make you get rid of your gas cooktop.

Although it is really cool to cap a gas line and say, by buy utility, I don't need gas

anymore.

We're out of here.

So we've got plenty of customers who've done that.

But, but folks can keep their natural gas ranges if they do.

However, I'm going to give you a data point that's really fascinating and Clay can talk

about this in a little bit.

He's going to do this tour.

But Clay put in a food box.

We've got this, it's an indoor air quality monitor.

What the heck is a food box?

It's this little box that's in your mantle of your house or whatever, just put it out

in the middle of your house.

And it hooks up to your cell phone and it tells you what the quality of your air is and

measures all different kinds of pollutants that are bad for your health.

And Clay can be sitting in his office looking at this phone and he can know when his kids

or his wife goes and puts on the tea kettle on the gas stove.

And immediately, just turning on that gas stove enough to boil some water, takes the indoor

air quality of his house above EPA's recommended levels for health.

Wow.

That's just good.

A sounding tea, right?

Yeah.

So we know that burning natural gas is just not a good thing.

We don't need it.

There's incredible technologies like Stephen has here.

We'll show that when the tour in a minute, an induction cooktop.

This thing can boil a kettle of the huge kettle of water in two minutes.

Oh my God.

It's so powerful and it's very detailed control.

Most people who love to cook, when they use an induction cooktop, they'll never go back

to gas.

So it's just a neat feature and you get all these benefits of indoor air quality.

So we're not at all talking about the old electric resistive coils that some of us

maybe remember growing up or what have you.

We're talking about something that is the cutting edge really provides as much or greater

control as gas when we're preparing meals for friends and loved ones and all that.

Absolutely.

That's great.

I think with the indoor air quality thing, it's particularly important as we know a lot

of research is showing that increased rates of childhood asthma and other respiratory

and health issues related to pollutants in our indoor air, the air in our homes, the

air in our offices, daycares and so on, is really impacting society in a big way.

And my gosh, this opportunity to kind of clean it up at home is really what a powerful

statement that becomes in terms of what we're valuing as people.

That's right.

And we don't have to burn fossil fuels, you know.

It was a great invention.

It helped our economy.

It helped us grow.

It helped us do really neat things in society, but now we know the consequences and it's

time to switch because we don't need it.

It's time to switch, indeed.

Well, I just want to mention a couple things, Adam, for our audience.

One is if you're in the Metro Denver area, the front range of Colorado, fuel switch is providing

services ranging from the beginning energy audits of your home all the way through to the

design, looking at the financial modeling and helping with the installation of all these

different technologies and tools.

And for folks who would like to engage with fuel switch to get your initial energy audit

done, you can mention the Y Honors community podcast and get a $50 discount on that initial

energy audit.

And that's a wonderful value.

Thank you for sharing that with us.

So outside of the Metro Denver area, we know that fuel switch is looking for additional

partners, contractors and others who do this kind of work in other communities.

And for folks who would like to engage with Adam and Clay on that front, hello at gofuelswitch.com

is a great way to connect in.

Again, I want to mention that on Facebook, you've got fuel switch, easy to find there.

There's some great graphics there.

And I would like to mention as well that for any of you out there who would like to check

out any of our electronic or audiobook products at Y on Earth, use the code podcast to get

a discount on those as well.

So I just, I want to circle back Adam to the context.

Here we are.

Our world is changing.

The climate is destabilizing and that's not a debate.

That's happening.

We face incredible challenges with that reality.

And there are so many things right at our fingertips we can be doing in our own homes,

in our communities.

I want to ask you how, how does it feel when you're waking up every day, getting

ready to work, and you know that A, on the one hand, you have so much to offer folks

to help mitigate these challenges that we're facing.

And on the other hand, these are big, big, big challenges.

What's that like for you?

It's daunting, right?

Not for sure, but it is the reason I wake up every morning.

It is my purpose.

So all the businesses that I'm involved in, we're really working hard to save carbon in

everything that we do.

And some of the businesses we can actually track the savings and we can tally up the numbers.

And it's really fun to be like, wow, this business just saved 500,000 metric tons of carbon

through what we were doing.

So those types of things are like, okay, take a deep breath.

You know, Trump might screw up this country and by taking this out of the Paris Accords

and the entire world by doing this, but what's really amazing is that people are stepping

up.

So a great example of that is through the US Sustainability Directors Network.

This, you know, when Trump said, we're out of the Paris Climate Accords, we don't care

about climate, a group of cities representing 40% of the nation's population stepped up

and said, we're going to do the Paris Climate Accords, and we're going to pre-desivate,

and we're going to meet those goals.

So we can do this.

So government governments are ready, the people want it.

There's another study that I just read from Vox just recently that was really fascinating

about what do consumers want, and it was about the utility industry and how to do consumers

care about renewable energy, 75% of US utility bill payers said that they want their electricity

to be 100% renewable.

Yes.

75%.

51% of those people said they would gladly pay a 30% premium to get it.

Wow.

That's big.

Things are changing.

People want this stuff.

They get it.

We know it.

And regardless of what our federal government is doing, the cities, the states, and the utilities

are starting to step up and say, okay, we can do this.

Yes.

This is so powerful.

You know, it strikes me that if you look around in the media currently, there's not that

much.

You're going to find 75% of Americans agreeing on apparently.

And we have so many friends in the Green Faith community, for example, who have a variety

of different political persuasions, but this very issue is galvanizing us throughout society.

And to me, it's one of the greatest sources of hope being out there in various communities

seeing that people from a variety of backgrounds and walks are engaged in this issue and engaging

in what can be done.

And I think that with a resource like what you guys are providing through fuel switch,

it just puts so many more tools in the tool chest of us, folks, and communities all over.

And I'm so excited to be able to share this with our audience and really encourage the

audience to check out fuel switch, get involved, get engaged, get that energy audit done for

your home, and it's amazing how much change we can make so quickly with these approaches.

That's right.

So we're probably about ready to do a tour, Adam.

Is there anything before we get to kind of look around the house here that you want

to make sure to mention?

I think that's really it.

It's going to be fun to walk through Steven's house and see a lot of the different pieces

that we've put together here.

There's lots of new technology that's out there.

This isn't your father's house, mobile anymore.

The reason we're able to do fuel switching on existing homes and make it cost effective

today with today's technologies is because of all this new stuff that's come out in recent

days, as well as the incredibly regularly decreasing price of solar.

Right.

Amazing.

So we're dropping the prices and so all of this is now well affordable for all of us.

One of the things that I discovered doing research when I was writing Why on Earth is that

our fossil energy prices generally are bouncing along a band of price ranges that behave like

commodities.

They are commodities, right?

Meanwhile, our renewable energy technologies which are harvesting a virtually limitless

source of energy from the sun are following a very different price behavior, a price curve

similar to Moore's law as it relates to computing technology.

We know that with computing technology, for example, we get to double the capacity and

speed of processors at half the price every 18 months or so.

That's been the experience over several decades.

There's a very similar pricing dynamic occurring with solar in particular now in well over

30 states in the United States.

For example, it is cheaper to install, this is at utility scale, to install renewable generating

capacity than it is to install the fossil generating capacity.

This is just to me another example of what an amazingly hopeful moment we're in right

now and not that dynamic really just kicked in in the last couple of years.

We face these big challenges, but we actually have so many solutions right at our fingertips.

Cool.

Should we give folks a tour?

All right.

Sounds good.

Friends, if you're listening to the podcast, maybe you're driving in your electric vehicle

or in the comfort of your renewable powered home, we're going to now switch and go on

a tour here of Steven's home.

And so just want to invite you that if you're engaging right now through audio and you would

like to check out the tour, you can go to yonder.org, the podcast page, and get to the video

portion of this and join us in this tour today.

Friends, so we're getting ready now to go on the tour of Steven Price's home.

And Clay Ducel is going to lead us through this tour.

Clay, you were the brains behind a lot of the renovations and retrofits that were done

here in Steven's home.

Tell us just what that framework is and how you kind of approached working with Steven

on this project.

Well, that's great.

Thanks.

You know, we had a neat opportunity here.

Steven bought a house that was in bad need of a full renovation.

This house was pretty rough.

So Steven was in a position where he had to upgrade this house.

He needed new windows.

He needed new heating cooling system.

He needed new hot water heating.

And we said, let's think about doing this a little bit differently.

Make your house more comfortable and save you a lot of money in the long term.

So he listened to our advice and we've got a really good house now.

So maybe Steven, you can tell us from the standpoint of being a homeowner and acquiring a project

house.

What was it about the work that Clay and Adam do with fuel switch that compelled you to

work with them on the project?

Well, I know Adam personally before and we had sat down and talked about it and Clay

hit on the big point, which is I had to do everything.

But when you sit around and you think about the economics of it, we're talking about

Delta's, a normal standard historical furnace that people put in versus an air source heat

pump.

It's not the focus of the air source heat pump.

It's what's that Delta.

And that's what I had to keep coming back to and with all being electric and then having

the solar, there's a payback period.

So from an economic standpoint, it made a lot of sense.

And then from doing what's right for the world standpoint, I believe it made a lot of sense

so because I do believe in climate change and I believe that every little bit helps

especially.

I'm one house out of thousands and thousands in the area, but you guys start somewhere.

And these guys were a conduit to allowing me to open my eyes to see that I could be one

of the first to do that net energy neutral and start that process.

Well, tell you, I want to first of all thank you for inviting us into your home and sharing

this with our community and our audience.

And I'm really struck.

I can just tell talking with you that what you've been able to do here, what you've been

able to create here feels wonderful.

And it's a great space to be inside of.

It's so comfortable.

And I'm curious, you were barefoot earlier when we got here.

It's obviously a very comfortable space.

Can you just share with us a little bit about that experience you have?

Yeah, I mean, there's the physical comfort, obviously, of this stuff works.

The technology's there.

And when it's cold out, I can be warm in here and when it's warm out, I got air conditioning

in here that I didn't think I was going to get through the air source heat pump.

But it does.

There's that physical feeling.

But there's also, at my other house where I used to live, I had a furnace.

And every time I'd walk into the winter and be warm, it maybe it's me, but I had a little

bit of a guilt.

I'm like, because I know why it's hot.

It doesn't burn any combustion.

I've got combustion.

I have a fossil fuel that are burning.

That's not good for the environment.

I don't have that guilt here as much at all.

I come in and it's like, it's hot.

It's like, oh yeah, all that solar energy during the day that I collected is now heating

my house at night so I can sit down and watch it on movie.

I love this.

So in a sense, we could say that with fuel switch, you too can feel good about feeling good.

Right?

It's a fabulous change.

The way I use energy, the solar tubes I was talking about, they have LED lights.

And I don't turn the lights on in those rooms at night because these night lights are bright

and they're not powered each day.

They charge back up.

When I make it to silent to make for dinner, a lot of times I'm like, ah, pasta, I got

to boil the water and it's going to take so long and I'm like, oh wait, it's induction.

It's like a microwave.

The water is going to boil that quick and I'm going to be eating faster than I can make

a sandwich, but I'm going to be making pasta.

I mean, it changes the way I think and the way I use it.

That's fabulous.

That's fabulous.

And Clay, I want to ask you, before we go on this tour and I understand we're going

to be getting down in the crawl space underneath, I want to share with us what's your background

and how did you get to where you're at now today helping folks make the fuel switch?

That's great.

Thanks.

My background is construction.

I've been a general contractor for years doing high-end home remodels, kitchens, bathrooms,

new construction.

I always was trying to emphasize energy efficiency in all of those projects, but again, I realize

that I think there's something more that we can do.

And when we started this company, I connected with Adam and we decided to launch this company

and everything did very well together.

Adam has the experience with building science, with software development, with energy modeling

and I've actually been in the trenches pulling building permits and crawling on roofs and

building things.

It was a real fun symbiosis.

So now we're really focused on getting people off of fossil fuels and by having a general

contractor type experience, we can look at the whole house as a system rather than the

individual components and come up with the right solution for each house.

And I got to tell you, it's really fun and it feels really good.

That's fabulous.

That's fabulous.

So I guess we're going outside first, right?

Let's go underneath the house.

That's where it all happens.

That sounds fun.

All right.

Great.

Thanks.

All right.

So Clay, here we are, we're about to go down into the crawl space and there's a lot of

magic happening down there that wouldn't otherwise be obvious.

You know, it's a part of the house that a lot of people don't think about very much,

but it's actually really important for energy and for comfort.

So let me show you what we did here.

Great.

Good thing I'm doing some yoga.

Yeah.

So Clay, here we are under the house in the crawl space and what are we looking at?

Well, again, what Adam was saying earlier, the first step is energy efficiency, which

we talk about insulation and air sealing.

There are two different things.

They work very well together.

The insulation we like to say is like a wool sweater, keeps you nice and warm, but if

you're outside with the wool sweater and the wind blows, you're going to feel cold.

Air sealing would be like that windbreaker that goes over the top of your wool sweater.

And if you wearing both the windbreaker and the wool sweater, you're going to feel warm,

same thing with your house.

That makes a ton of sense.

So, crawl spaces are generally quite leaky, especially in older houses.

So what we've done here is we've wrapped the whole perimeter of the crawl space with a

foil-based insulation that seals air from getting in and out as well as has a thermal barrier

to it with the insulation.

We've also used quite a bit of expanding foam to seal any holes in the house.

And then what we've done down here is we've got a vapor barrier, a vapor and moisture barrier

on the floor.

In addition to making this space as pleasant as a crawl space to be, works to keep moisture

from the ground from getting into the space, keeping this dry, keeping mold down.

And in Colorado, radon is a big issue.

So in this house, we have a radon mitigation system that is drawing air from underneath

the barrier to remove radon and prevent radon from getting into the house.

Wow.

That's great.

So with a few very simple pieces of technology here, you're accomplishing quite a lot.

It's really quite simple.

We call this the low-hanging fruit.

We apply these same concepts to the walls and the attic above, not as easy to show in

a video podcast, but it works great.

And this space stays warm now, and that keeps the floors of stairs warm.

So when Steven gets out of bed in the morning with his bare feet, he's going to be stepping

on to much warmer floors than this house used to have before all this work was done.

Which, like he was saying earlier, is just really pleasant.

Right, yeah, we know there's a sort of psychosomatic aspect to our experience of comfort in

a home, and that the temperature of the floor is actually a huge driver of that, isn't it?

It's a big driver, and a lot of people wake up and feel cold feet, and they might turn

their thermostat up.

Right, right, right.

But really, they just need to seal and condition their crawl space.

Oh, it's so easy.

Love it.

Yeah.

Cool.

Thanks, Clay.

So Clay, here we are in the kitchen now, and I see there are some interesting appliances

tell us what's going on.

That's great.

Well, for the heart of the heating and cooling system for a house like this, we have a

duckless mini split system.

This is an air source heat pump.

There's a condenser that sits outside that extracts heat from the air.

I'll show you that in a little bit.

And basically, with this lower remote control, it provides all the heating and cooling for

the house.

Wow.

They're extremely effective.

I'll stary the details and the technology, but they keep the heat really even throughout

the house.

Another feature here that's not very interesting to look at, but it's fascinating, is what we

have an energy recovery ventilator.

So we are extracting air from this house constantly and bringing in fresh air from the outside

and conditioning it, and it comes in right here.

And so that's bringing fresh outdoor air in.

Again, the concept of indoor air quality by constantly changing the air in the side of

your house in a controlled way.

You can have Stephen breathing fresh, clean air all the time.

Yeah.

Wonderful.

Wonderful.

Another fun thing in this kitchen is an induction stove top.

And I understand Stephen's quite a cook, is that right?

Yes.

Stephen's not your average guy.

Stephen likes to cook.

He does a job.

Yeah.

Working with Stephen for a long time, I can verify for this.

He's always eating a good lunch.

Cool.

And he likes it.

People love it.

Aesthetically, they're really clean, they're easy to clean, and people, once they make

the switch from gas, really tend to love these induction cooktops.

In fact, some of the really high-end cooks, the fancy cooks who are, you know, on TV,

are moving towards induction stoves off of gas because of the added level of control.

Oh, that's fascinating.

You get even more control this way.

That's what they tell.

Beautiful.

Beautiful.

All right.

So where are we headed now?

Let me show you the water here.

Great.

That's the thing that people don't think about a whole lot, but it's really important.

Yes, it is.

For this house, we're using a product called Sandan.

It's a Japanese product.

It's been around for a long time.

It's a super high-efficiency, air-source heat pump water heater.

In this case, the heat pump actually sits outside.

I'll show you that in just a second.

But this is a tank, just like any other tank, that stores hot water.

It's oversized.

For this house, we are actually using it for some supplemental inflow heating in this

particular case because we have an opportunity to heat some floors with this water.

I'll show you the heat pump that's outside.

But also in this room, we have a solitude.

It's pretty natural lighting.

There's no artificial lighting.

There's no lights on in this room, and it's just a laundry room.

And otherwise, it would be fairly dark, but this is bringing in a great amount of light

during the day.

That's beautiful.

It's a nice quality of light, too.

Come on.

Let me show you the outside stuff.

All right, Clay.

So it looks like we've got several components here on the wall.

We do.

We do.

So again, custom to each house.

There were some space constraints here, Stephen wants to use this area to park a vehicle.

So we didn't want to keep anything down low, so we lifted everything up high.

The air source heat pump water heater that I was showing you before, the actual condenser

is sits right up there.

Again, that extracts heat from the surrounding air and puts it into the hot water.

That's amazing.

In this case, we have a west facing to catch that late afternoon sun, so the area around

here is nice and warm.

Yeah.

We lifted it up high, so you can still park a car here.

Yep.

The other component here that makes the whole thing work is the solar photovoltaic system.

Okay, so this is dealing with the energy that's being captured on the roof by the solar

panels, is that right?

That's exactly right.

So the solar panels produce electricity in DC power, like a battery.

That's direct current.

Direct current.

So this is what's called an inverter, so it comes to this point here and gets inverted

to AC.

So that's the alternating current most of our household appliances and phones and everything

you're looking to run out.

The standard household plug will be alternating current, so it inverts it to that.

And then this is where it interacts with the utility power that comes in.

And when there's excess power being generated, it is sent back to the grid, and this meter

is keeping track of the dollars and cents of what's going where.

And the power that is needed inside the house, rather than coming from the grid, will come

straight from the solar panels and power everything with the sun.

Wow, that's so beautiful.

So there are times when there's more energy being produced by this home than is being used.

And so it's actually creating a surplus that others in the community can use.

That's exactly right.

The power will go out here through this meter.

The utility company is effectively buying it from Stephen and then selling it back to him

at night is how the net metering concept works.

Okay, that's fabulous.

Well great.

And where do we go next?

What are we looking at next?

Let me show you the air source heat pump outside for the mini-split.

And one more thing I'm really excited to show you.

Okay, super.

So Clay, now we're on the other side of the house and I see a couple of additional components

here, what's going on?

That's right.

So this is the condenser for the mini-split heat pump that I was showing you in the kitchen.

And this is the unit that is extracting heat from the air and putting it into the house.

It looks like a basic air conditioner, but it does heating and cooling.

And they work great.

This technology has actually been around for a long time.

So it's not brand new technology.

It just keeps getting better.

And my favorite part of this house is again visually not that interesting.

But the utility company has put a lock on Stephen's gas meter.

This is where the gas will normally come into the house.

Well, Stephen doesn't use any gas in his house.

So they have put a lock on this meter.

These dials never spin and he doesn't pay for any gas or any monthly service fees that

are associated with having a gas connection.

Oh, that's fabulous.

His connection to fossil fuels has been cut off.

Oh, that's wonderful.

Stuck in time.

These dials aren't they?

So Clay, we've seen several different components and I understand each of these is in the neighborhood

of a few thousand dollars to several thousand dollars.

Seems like that could be really expensive if somebody were paying out a pocket right

away for that.

But I understand that's not necessarily what needs to happen.

Well, that's true.

That's a great point.

Yes, like a lot of efficiency and renewable energy, there's a high upfront cost and a very

low long-term cost.

What's amazing is that there's a lot of really innovative financing packages out there

for these sorts of improvements.

Stephen took advantage of quite a few of them.

Local incentives, federal incentives, loan programs where he was able to finance these

components outside of his traditional remodel and allowing him more capital to do the remodel

itself or the other things like flooring and lighting and this sort of things.

But also, those financing packages aren't necessarily available for conventional fossil fuel

powered equipment.

So it really allowed him to access a lot more money to do this whole project and really

keep his monthly expenses really low and not have to do a large initial cash outlay.

Because most of us don't have thousands of dollars just sitting in the bank that you

can spend.

But we're already spending money every month on utilities so rather than giving the money

to the utilities, we can own our own systems and pay off our loans and come out ahead on

the whole deal.

Yeah, that's so beautiful.

And I understand that in terms of thinking about your ongoing monthly expenditures, yes,

you may have some more debt to service if that's how you finance the install on these

components.

But at the same time, your operating costs generally have declined substantially, especially

in this case to zero when it comes to gas, right?

Your monthly utilities to various utility suppliers are going to be much lower in this kind

of a scenario.

Drastically reduced, in this case, they're going to get zero.

Something that people forget is that we are in debt to the power company.

We need to write them a check every month just to keep our house going.

Electricity, gas, gasoline, those are bills that we have no matter what.

So rather than paying somebody else every month before to pay off our own debt and pay off

our own debt and own our system.

Love it.

That's so beautiful.

Well, I am just thrilled that we have the opportunity to see all of this and thank you

for walking us through this.

You know, I gather that with some of the different incentive and rebate programs out there, some

of the different loan packages out there that can really vary state-to-state municipality

to municipality utility to utility.

And it seems to me that's just another additional good reason to engage with a company like yours

fuel switch to help navigate that for optimal benefit and efficiency in that entire process.

That's a really good point.

Keeping track of what is available for rebates, sometimes they vary monthly, quarterly.

It's actually quite a task for us to stay on top of it.

We have good partners with the city, the Boulder here that helps us keep track of all of that.

And yeah, you know, having those rebates can really help tip the scales towards some of

these renewable energy technologies.

And in a lot of cases, make them cost neutral plus savings.

Yeah.

It ends up being a really good deal for a lot of people.

That's wonderful.

Thanks, Clay.

So I know we've got something else to check out now.

What is it?

I want to show you the solar panels and an electric car.

Cool.

All right.

Okay, so Clay, as Adam was explaining earlier with the fuel switch framework, we basically

have four major steps to take.

One is the installation and ceiling.

That's the efficiency part.

We saw that down in the crawl space.

The second is the renewable heating and cooling.

We just saw a lot of the different appliances that provide those services.

The third is the energy generation, the solar that we see on the rooftop here.

That's correct.

And the fourth is integrating an electric vehicle.

So right now we have next to us and behind us two of the four pieces of the strategy.

That's correct.

Right here is a Nissan Leaf.

An electric vehicle that's been around for quite a few years has a good solid track record.

Not incredibly expensive.

Electric vehicles can be used by everybody.

If you want to buy a Tesla, go for it.

Have fun.

They're awesome vehicles, but you don't have to spend that kind of money to drive an electric

car.

And with solar panels on and roof, you can have a car that runs off sunshine.

And driving this car every day and knowing that it's powered by sunshine really feels

good.

I absolutely love this.

And here we are standing in the sun.

I feel it feels good.

That local star of ours is putting off more energy than we need by a long shot.

I recently came across some information that suggests that the entire biosphere, primarily

in the form of photosynthesis, the plants converting that energy into sugars and so forth,

is utilizing only about 1% of that solar radiation.

Our entire human system, the entire economy, is utilizing something in the range of one-ten

thousandth of what the sun puts off.

Of course, a lot of that up until now has been in the form of fossil fuels.

And it's just so exciting to me, Clay, to know that with professionals like yourself and

so many others doing incredible work around the world, we are literally in the process

of transforming to a solar-based society and economy in my gosh what an exciting time

to be doing that.

It's really fun.

And what's amazing is that this technology, electric vehicles, solar, rooftop solar,

has been around for a while.

It's proven.

We don't have to wait for some new technology to come in.

We can do it today.

We can do it economically.

We can power your house and your vehicle with the sun.

And it works.

And it's really nice to do.

Absolutely.

Well, Clay, hey, thanks so much.

I'm so glad you could join us on the podcast.

And just to remind our viewers and audience that they can find fuel switch on Facebook,

fuel switch is on Facebook under that name.

And if folks would like to engage with fuel switch, mention the Why On Earth Community

Podcast and you'll get a discount on your initial home energy audit, a great savings.

Thank you so much for providing that.

That's available to our friends and colleagues in the Metro Denver area.

And as you guys are expanding your reach, networking with other professionals, contractors,

et cetera, in other municipalities around the country, I understand that you're in

the process of connecting with others to help expand that network.

And so I want to encourage the contractors and professionals to get in touch with Clay

or Adam on that front.

And my gosh, it's such an exciting time knowing we have these solutions right at our fingertips.

And Clay, thanks so much for the work you're doing.

Thank you.

Thank you very much for having us.

Y On Earth - Podcast Cover
Stewardship & Sustainability Series
Episode 17 - Fuel Switch Founders Give Tour of Net Zero Home
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