It has been a year

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Feeling the Heat
Jan 9, 2019
Since I moved into the new/remodeled place. While I was building it we had discussions on various things to include heat pumps, wood stoves and insulation. My main plan was to install another BK like in the old place. That place is 2700 square feet, this one is 2500.

I placed a chimney, and opted to go heavy on insulation, seven foot eaves with walk around porch, and a 16 SEER heat pump. I placed a 2100 gallon cistern for the well, and another 2100 gallon cistern for the spring. The well is 30 gpm. Actually they pumped it at 30 for 90 minutes and it never ran dry. The spring cistern can be pumped down and refills in a day. The house is gravity fed off its cistern.

I eventually decided against the BK figuring it was over kill putting a wood stove in here. The ceiling is R60, and the walls were covered with fiber screening and blown with R23 glass prior to sheet rocking. This filled the voids behind the outlet boxes, exterior lights etc.. The basement and crawl space concrete is sheeted with R10 foam board. There is R10 foam board under the basement slab also. There are no drafts.

My well pump runs every 4 to 6 weeks. All external water comes from the spring. I run an irrigation pump off the spring cistern.

The house is all electric. There is a connection charge of a little over $30 per month. Counting the service charge my highest electric bill was $122 last winter. In the spring when the irrigation pump is not running the electric bill is in the high 30's. This past summer when the temps were over 100 for a few days, the highest electric bill was $59. This was for the one or two days when I ran the air, and 8 hours of irrigation per day.

I put in a propane stand alone stove. It has its own thermostat, and it is set just below the heat pump thermostat. If power fails, and it does fairly often I have back up heat even if I am not here. The stove can be ran with or without a pilot. I ran it for about 7 months on pilot and sat in front of it and read many nights when the temps were in the range that the heat pump would work itself to death without putting out heat. It cycled like the heat pump, coming on for a short time and dropping out until the temp dropped. I burned about 70 gallons of propane over those 7 months.

Built like it is, I do not think I would have ever recouped the cost of solar or even the difference between the cost of the heat pump I put in and a more efficient heat pump. I do have back up heat strips in the air handler.

During the summer I would hold a 30+ degree difference between inside and outside without running the air. I opened windows at night for the breeze. I think the 7 foot eaves shading the windows helped quite a bit. All in all, insulating the heck out of the place, the seven foot eaves, and gravity fed water system seems to have worked out. I'm glad I went passive.


Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
Great results from all your efforts. Much respect. A few pics may be in order;)


Feeling the Heat
Jan 9, 2019
There are threads floating around here with pics of the project. I do not have a camera here. I should, but do not. Besides you would see the mess. I am stuck half way through a small barn & chicken coop project due to rain and mud. Retaining walls are also hung up mid project. This time last year it was froze up already.


Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
My well pump runs every 4 to 6 weeks.
Holy crap!!! My well cycles several times per day in winter, and likely close to 40 times per day in summer.

Any concerns with storing well water in a cistern that long? What's the construction? I've lived in houses with cisterns, both spring fed and gutter fed, the newer of the two being 150 years old, and the older of the two likely over 250 years. Never seen a "modern" gravity-fed cistern, other than the poly 55-gallon drums or IBC totes used by gardeners.


Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2005
great job MTY. you got it down pat. if the solar was bought and put in by you it might be ok, but most people would spend 100 dollars to save 10


Burning Hunk
Apr 19, 2019
SW Montana
Respect! Wondering if you'd be willing to share what "town" or at least region of ID you're in, because the climate varies vastly in ID - from almost CA, to almost MT. Just trying to relate to it from MT, where on 6/26 I just started the first fire of the year because I needed the hot water, but not the heat.

Passive beats cutting wood for heat! Probably could never get there here, but the older I get, the tireder I get cutting wood, so it's fun to fantasize!


Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
South Puget Sound, WA
Well done. The benefits of good insulation and tight sealing will pay off for a lifetime.