Dan and I have now been living in our dream house for just over a year. It has been an event-filled time. We have been in the news (Dan was quite articulate, but I hope to never see myself on TV again!), and we were fortunate to be a part of the 2011 Cool House Tour. We met some fascinating people and -- we hope -- have spread the green word. We're in the midst of a drought here and have had more 100+ degree days than I care to count. On the plus side, however, the drought has given us even more to brag about. During the Cool House Tour, it was a very hot dry day. More than 200 people walked through our house. Despite the constant traffic, the house was cool and comfy the entire time, and we saw no appreciable difference in our electric bill (see Dan's blog). We continue to have visitors. They are all surprised by our tiny electric bills, our xeriscaped yard (surviving despite the drought), and how “normal” the house looks. The other surprise seems to be that 1,440 square feet can feel very open and spacious.
After a year, I've had time to appreciate some of the subtler aspects ofthe house. The concrete floors are wonderfully cool (take that, 100-degree heat!) and easy to maintain. In fact, the whole house is relatively maintenance free. The thermal envelope keeps the dust out, a good thing since I am not known for my housekeeping skills! There is also the peace and quiet of this well-insulated home. Although we live close to a hospital, there's very little outside noise inside.
The solar tubes provide plenty of light without heat. The overhangs keep out the direct sunlight, which makes it easier to keep things cool. The geothermal HVAC system is efficient and quiet. No loud compressor outside my bedroom window!
After a year, we are still thrilled with our little home. It is right-sized, energy efficient, and cozy. In short, this house is everything we wanted, and we look forward to enjoying it for many years to come.