My tiny (480 Sq. Foot) post WW 2 house built in 1954 is uninsulated cinder block plastered inside and stucco outside with an entryway patio paved with heat absorbing bricks that received summer sun but not winter sun. I noticed walking from my truck to my front door in the summer felt like an oven. I call bricks in full summer sun “SS”, for “solar stupid.” I pulled out four areas of bricks, leaving pathways to the clay studio doors and patio, and planted islands of lush drought resistant plants, mostly aloes and Mother of Millions to cool the area. I used the removed bricks to extend the patio further from north of the house under the shade of Mesquite trees. This extended patio is shaded by the East and overhanging North Mesquite trees in the summer but magically catches the winter sun. When tree roots raise the bricks I remove raised bricks and replace them with cobblestones. The result: no raised bricks to trip over, no tree roots to cut, and attractive cobblestone patterns in my patio. I'm currently removing most of the gravel in my yards and replacing it with cooler desert mulch from a tree that split and was chipped. Additionally Mesquite trees lay in their own mulch. I thin the mulch down every year so rain soaks into the soil but light mulch keeps the ground cooler.
My little SS studio/house has east and west sliding glass doors, that catch the full blast of summer sun, but sadly not the winter sun when warming the concrete floors would be good. SIGH! I designed and installed exterior curtains of mold resistant cloth that blocked the sun before it hits the glass. I open and close them myself to allow light when sun isn't hitting the glass. I then installed a shade cloth awning over the West sliding glass door to provide a reasonable shaded patio over the (yep once again) bricks in full sun.
The south wall of my studio and former home isn't visible from the front or side yards. It faces an empty lot. I noted where the winter sun struck the wall and more importantly where the summer sun didn't strike the wall and I painted the winter section of wall flat black. In the winter the black paint over uninsulated cinder block heats up. The interior walls absorb heat and and radiate warmth into the house until 10:00PM on cold sunny winter days.
I hired Technicians for Sustainability to install solar panels on my home in 2013. My six panels make more energy than I'm using so I'm feeding energy back into the grid and earning TEP credit. I always conserved energy and I most likely won't save money in the long run; I save money by conserving. The decision to put in solar panels was a moral one and an exercise in spending money on me.I know my electricity is clean; I'm not contributing to nuclear, or coal generated electricity. What else would I spend my money on, clothes, vacations, designer dogs, drugs?
As an artist I learned to keep my business and personal overhead LOW LOW LOW and save money for investments like solar panels, not a economic investment but a moral one.
I bought the property across the fence from my studio when I combined households with my mother and married.We used GeoInnovation for the solar panels on the residential home in 2017 and the panels should pay for themselves in years. You know when you have the right company when a worker walks up to you holding a banana peel and asks “Is this peel for the chickens or the compost?”