Solar Champion Stories

Net-Positive Living at Baird Landing

Like many parents, Andrew and Cindy Steinharter started looking to downsize after their children went to college. They wanted a smaller home with less acreage, but didn't want to move too far from their community in Yarmouth. They stumbled across Baird Landing, a new Freeport sub-development of net-zero, solar-powered homes built by Burnham & Lobozzo Builders.

Burnham Labozzo

Baird Landing developers Alex Burnham, left, and Jonathan Lobozzo - photo credit Portland Press Herald, Shawn Patrick Ouellette

After talking with Alex Burnham & Jonathan Lobozzo, the Steinharters appreciated the concept of the net-zero housing community in Freeport, and committed. Now, 18 months after moving in, they're happier than ever with their decision to adopt a net-zero lifestyle.

"We love it. It's a nice house - part of the value proposition was the style of the house as well, not just the solar aspect," Andrew says, "We like our whole lot - the backyard faces south so we have sun on the patio all day long."

There are now 10 fully complete net-zero homes in Baird Landing. The Steinharters were the 5th to move in and through the neighborhood association they've met all of the other Baird Landing homeowners.

"Everyone's friendly. We know everyone, and the notion of trying to be net zero and energy conscious gives us something in common."

A downsize can be a step up in sustainability and efficiency.

Besides the rooftop solar, the Baird Landing home also differs from their Yarmouth home in terms of heat source - the fully electric houses have air source heat pumps for heating and cooling, which Andrew has really come to appreciate instead of the costly and dirty oil furnace.


The Steinharters' dog, Lucky, in front of the recently-installed solar array, 2019

"It's incredibly efficient. It hardly uses much electricity, and we're never cold. Periodically when it's super cold there's a backup propane that turns on but that only happens rarely. In the summer if it gets above 80 degrees we use it for cooling and it cools the house really quickly," says Andrew. Andrew tracks the home's energy usage monthly so he can see where they're saving, how their systems are performing, and how they can use it most efficiently moving forward.

He uses his SolarEdge monitoring app, his CMP bills, and a few Excel formulas to create a master spreadsheet; he tracks solar generation, electric consumption, kilowatt hours for heating/cooling, and the cost savings associated with it all. In the 18 months they've lived at Baird Landing, they've saved over $2,000 with their solar array alone.

They also no longer pay for oil like they used to in Yarmouth. The home even has an electric induction stovetop and oven, so they're proud of their energy use. Andrew says, "We accomplished net-zero even with electric cooking."

The Steinharters are actually better than net-zero, they're net-positive.

In the past 12 months their 37-panel array has generated 15,500 kWh, and they've only used around 13,000 kWh. Because of this discrepancy, they are considering buying an Electric Vehicle in the future, which they could charge with the extra electricity generated by their solar.

a Baird Landing home in the early stages of the development