Solar powered home in Portland Maine

A 2,600 sq. ft. unit in this apartment building in Portland, ME is heated, cooled, and powered for the tidy sum of $1 a day!

We have some new data from Paul Ledman and Colleen Myers, whose 2,600 sq. ft. apartment unit in downtown Portland, ME is heated with 2 heat pumps and powered with a 7.6kw solar electric array. His unit is one of three in the super-insulated building; the three units share a beefy 90 tube solar hot water system, the solar PV is tied directly to the electric meter in Ledman’s own apartment.

Over 3 years, Ledman averages $1.08 a day for ALL energy needs in his unit – heat, hot water, air conditioning and all electric usage – without burning a single drop of oil or therm of natural gas.

The secret – great insulation combined with highly efficient appliances.

“Over three years, our total payments to CMP have been just over $1,100, or $1.08 a day,” Ledman says. “For 26 of those months we were actually putting back into the grid but still had to pay the CMP connection charge. About a third of what we paid to CMP were minimum connection charges and not actual electric use. The solar PV has performed right on target (predicted at 9,600 kWh/yr and has produced roughly 9,400 kWh/yr) and with a couple more panels, we’d be net zero. Not bad considering we built this at the same sq ft cost as if we had used a conventional oil or gas system with all the necessary piping.”

Ledman goes on to note how his family makes no special provisions to be ultra-cautious with energy use or give up major creature comforts. “We’ve had an occasional weekend where we left the heat pump thermostat higher than it needed to be, or maybe ran some lights we didn’t need to,” Paul says, “If anything, we live more luxuriously in this super-efficient unit than if we knew we were guzzling fossil fuels. On sunny days all year round, we love being able to take long hot showers knowing all of the hot water is coming straight from the sunshine.”

Read more about this home in this Portland Press Herald article.

Video on Paul Ledman’s Solar Powered Home

Here is a video interview we conducted with Paul when his apartment was finished in 2011: