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Optimizing Energy Conservation Over the course of the first year in their new home, Rick and Cynthia Torcasso have been experimenting

$350 $0.058

$300 $0.050

with optimizing the building’s energy consumption. They immediately noticed a significant difference in the overall cost of energy: When they compared the

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monthly bills for the Santa Fe home (see graph to the right) to those of their similarly-sized home in Dallas, even after taking into account any difference in local

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rates, they were saving a considerable amount of money. During the period from October 2012 to July 2013, energy costs for the Santa Fe residence were

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half the costs of the Dallas house during the winter months and less than one-sixth the costs of the Dallas bills during the summer.

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65%

30%

The couple went through a process of figuring out how to best take advantage of the thermal properties of their rammed earth house. In July 2013, Santa

amount of energy for air conditioning, but they knew that this energy would be used most efficiently if the cool night air were allowed in, as much as possible, in the summer. Beginning in the middle of July, the Torcassos started leaving the big sliding glass doors in the living area open at night. The circulating air allowed the rammed earth walls to cool down much more quickly, and they tended to stay that way, keeping interior spaces cool even when it got hot the next day. By the end of the month, their air conditioning consumption had dropped — to zero.

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57% 34%

33%

$50

16%

$0.008

9%

Fe’s high temperatures were in the 90s and lows were in the 60s. The house was consuming a very minor

85%

12%

5%

0 Oct. 2012

Nov. Nov.

TORCASSO SANTA FE RESIDENCE ELECTRIC USAGE TOTAL CONSUMPTION (DOLLAR COST PER SF) TOTAL BILL WITH SOLAR CREDITS INCLUDED (DOLLAR COST PER SF) PERCENTAGE OF ON-SITE SOLAR CONTRIBUTION

Actual costs for electric usage at the house have been consistently reduced notably during the spring months.

Dec. Dec.

Jan. Jan. 2013 2013

Feb. Feb.

March March

April April

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July July

Texas Architect May/June 2014: Water  

Exceptional craft and a relationship with water characterize all of the projects in this issue. Water is a scarce commodity in Texas, and wi...

Texas Architect May/June 2014: Water  

Exceptional craft and a relationship with water characterize all of the projects in this issue. Water is a scarce commodity in Texas, and wi...