Living in an 1917 craftsman house helps/assists us with our low energy use. It was built before “central anything” but our home had high ceilings, many large windows for cooling in the summer and a fireplace for warmth on cold California days.


On the City of Pasadena  website it is estimated that an average Pasadena resident uses about 25 kwh a day. Before we installed an Energy Star refrigerator and washing machine, our household was using about 12 kwh a day.
Since our investment in energy star appliances and implementation of powering down methods, we have successfully cut our daily energy usage in half to ~6 kwh.  On “low energy days” our household clocks in at about 3 kwh usage.
Besides changing over the majority of our modern conveniences (computer, TV, fridge, washer) to Energy Efficient models, we do without all “unnecessary gadgets” such as hair dryers, electric shavers, blenders (we use a handcranked one), microwave, can openers, and so forth.

IMG_5701We don’t have a clothes dryer and dry all our clothes on a line. Also, we have no air conditioning appliance. It also helps that we have a gas stove and water heater. In addition, we’ve installed energy efficient bulbs, limit light use during the day, turnoff lights in unused rooms at night and use candles and oil lanterns often during winter months. Furthermore, if we do watch TV, it’s limited for certain shows or rented videos.

In 2004 we brought our turn of the century house into the modern century installing 12 solar panels. Taking advantage of the City of Pasadena’s solar rebate, we opted to produce our power having the potential to be more energy independent while still being able to use the grid for backup. This allows us to “run the meter backwards” during the summer, and then use that excess power we have accumulated for use in the evenings and at other times when the sun is not shining.

Over the course of a year, all our production and usages are averaged. We pay only for the “net usage.” With grid-tied net metering we have the best of both worlds.

This system is more efficient and less expensive than systems that use batteries for backup power. However, remote property owners have found that it pays to be “off the grid” because of the savings resulting from the cost of land away from the grid are considerable.IMG_9573

How Much Did Your System Cost?

Roughly $11,500. PWP rebated us 2/3rds of the cost ( $5 per watt, which equals $8,125). By doing it ourselves, we saved an estimated $4,000 on labor costs and the system should pay for itself in about 4 years.

Special thanks to Allan Williamson of EESolar who mentored us through our DIY installation of the solar pv system.

  • “Powering down” – cut daily energy use in 1/2 12 kwh to 6 kwh a day
  • 12 solar panels provide 2/3rds of our energy
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Line drying clothes


  • Front loading washing machine
  • Refrigerator
  • Water Heater (gas)


  • Computer/printer/copier
  • TV (no cable) / VCR / DVD


  • Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
  • Olive Oil Lamps
  • Oil Lamps Filed with Biodiesel
  • Homemade Soy & Beeswax Candles
  • Daylighting
  • Solar Tube
  • Blender
  • Toaster
  • Grinder(s)
  • Popcorn Popper
  • Solar Oven(s)
  • Hand Washer/Wringer
  • Pedal Powered Grain Mill
  • Straight-Razor for Shaving
  • Hand-Cranked Radio
  • Mortar & Pestle
  • No Air Conditioning
  • Wood Floors & Area Carpets
  • Blinds
  • Use of Windows
  • Screen Doors
  • Edible Forest
  • “Living” Screens
  • Solar Attic Fans
  • No Central Heating
  • Wood Stove that Uses Scrap Wood
  • Dressing in Layers

Photo Gallery

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