Sustainable Energy Superstars – Rick and Pat Trescott
Recently we had the pleasure of visiting the home of Rick and Pat Trescott. They are a couple of real Sustainable Energy Superstars from the ground up. While many people would write off a 50-year-old home as not worth the effort, Rick and Pat have instead done everything in their power to improve the energy efficiency of their home, and they aren’t ready to stop any time soon.
When they first wrote and told me about the improvements they’d made to their home including a 5.7 kW solar array that powers their home and business. I didn’t think beyond the solar. I really didn’t imagine all that it would take to make an older home energy-efficient to the point that solar panels would even make a difference. It takes a lot!
Rick and Pat live in the the community of Royal, Alabama. They are one of about seven homes in their community that some type of solar. Of course, most of those homes were built from the ground up to be solar.
“We have a 1960’s vintage ranch type house that was poorly insulated, and shaded by a very large Oak tree growing just south of the house. We have done extensive retro-fitting to make it energy-efficient enough to make solar realistically viable. This has been an ongoing project over the past 9 years and is still not complete.”
The Trescotts have two main buildings on our property, totaling over 3,800 square feet of conditioned space. The main building is their home and the second is used for their business (a dog grooming parlor, kennel, work shop) and also includes a guest apartment. Because the house has no southern exposure, the solar panels had to installed on the second building. The panels provide electricity to both buildings and the Trescotts sell the extra electricity that is produced back to the grid. While they do have a battery back-up system, the batteries are only used in the case of a power outage (so far they’ve not had to use the batteries at all).
Here are just a few of the energy efficiency improvements that the Trescotts have made to their home:
- Replaced inefficient heat pump with a geothermal ground-source heat pump.
- Replaced an asphalt shingle roof with ENERGY STAR metal roof, extending the overhang to 4′.
- Pumped foam insulation into exterior walls.
- Added insulation to the attic and crawl space.
- Sealed ductwork.
- Installed double-cell insulated blinds on almost all the windows.
- Replaced all appliances with ENERGY STAR appliances.
- Replaced all light bulbs with LED lights. Their entire kitchen is now very well lit with less than 95 watts.
- Replaced all windows with high-efficiency double-glazed vinyl windows.
- Provided outside air supply to the wood-stove that is used as auxiliary heat.
- Replaced and built new decks using composite decking boards.
- Installed 5.7 kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic (PV) solar array, that is grid tied, with battery back-up.
Pat reminded us several times that you can’t just go solar. It doesn’t do you any good unless you’ve ensured that your home is energy-efficient to start with.
I asked Rick and Pat why it was important for them to make their home more energy-efficient.
“Part of the changes were just much needed upgrades that added to the comfort level of our home. My wife and I built the area that is used as the Grooming Parlor from scratch, using mostly reclaimed and recycled materials. We are both believers in the concept of “Recycle, Reuse and Repurpose.” I have children & grand-children. I would like to be able to have a more positive impact on their environmental future. Solar power had been an interest of mine since the 70’s, (I’m almost 66 years old.) We felt that we should support the developing technology of alternative energy.”
What does energy efficiency mean to the Trescotts?
“The late industrialist Ray C. Anderson said, “The greenest kilowatt-hour is the one that you don’t use.” I think that pretty much sums it up. Don’t be wasteful.”
The Trescotts credit the success of their project to their friend and neighbor, Mr. Daryl Berquist of Earth Steward Solar Consulting, who did everything from the original site survey to filling out the forms for Alabama Power. He might just be the reason that there is an entire community of solar homes in the middle of Blount County, Alabama. Daryl Berquist can be contacted by phone at (205) 429-3088 or via email at email@example.com