Falling back into EcoHouse life is like falling back into a chair cushion I haven't sat upon in a while. It feels right and it's comfortable, yet some of the familiarity is lost. There is a moment of trying to remember all of the things I do differently here than I do with my parents. I know where things are, yet I'm looking for things that are from my other home. The light hits the house differently, and rooms are dimmer and strange times. New objects and items have found their way into EcoHouse since I left. There is a piano where there once was a chair, and that chair where there once was a different chair, now in a place where there once was no chair at all. Posters have been changed and lamps have been moved. There is a rug spread on the floor, with flowers and swirls of different colors, reminding me of the hippies from the 60's who once attempted our same lifestyle. Mickey made thermally insulated curtains that now hang keeping the cold out from our giant leaky window.
Suddenly I stand upon the precipice of the last half of my year in the EcoHouse. In March new students will apply and be accepted and it will be our turn to decide what we leave behind and move on. And that's the thing about sustainability. The house must go on, and it will go on without us. The future iterations of this house will build upon what we leave behind.
Over winter break a statistics student did a survey comparing the energy usage of the Japan house to the EcoHouse. Not surprisingly, this house uses about half the energy. What was incredibly surprising was that our iteration of the EcoHouse has used about twice as much energy as any house before us. SHOCK!! We thought we'd been doing so well!
Well, we were. Sort of. Our habits are strong, and we're good about minimizing our energy usage, but we (I) made one crucial mistake. We turned on the dehumidifier. I had read online that if you dry clothes in the basement you should have a dehumidifier running. Apparently this is only really true in the summer, and still should only be done while the clothes are drying. Fairly new dehumidifiers are moisture sensing and will turn on when needed, but the old (energy sucking) one in the EcoHouse basement was not quite so fancy. And BOY did it use energy. Since we turned it off, our neutral (mid day, refrigerator fan off, nothing running) energy usage is about .25 - .30 kW (according to our TED). With it on, our average was about .70 - .90 kW. Needless to say, it's off now.
I'm sure after a comparison of next semester's data our house will be redeemed.