North Texas chiming in

Greetings, all! I'm joining this forum as a longtime energy-efficiency nerd (though my husband is the true expert) and neopagan. We're trying to master the next challenge, which is good sustainability.

Our house is grid-tied and on city water, with 3.7 KW of PV with micro inverters. We are still waiting for battery prices to drop, but in an emergency we'd do okay as a passive house. (We have a high-performance wood stove and 2 acres of free oak and cedar deadfall, though our primary need is cooling.) We also have 3200 gallons of rainwater storage.

I discovered this site through the After Oil books, and am hoping to take a more active, hopeful approach to what's happening in the world... Something more useful than complete despair, I mean.

Feel free to ask me about energy efficiency and site-appropriate house design.

Nice to meet you all!


Hi, Elena -

Glad to have you with us. Your house and set-up are impressive! One question I have for the dry-land folk (I'm in PNW - no water problems here) is: what do youdo if you don't get rain for your tanks? I suppose you could buy water and have a truck fill up your tank? (That would still make you much more sufficient than someone using bottled water)...

Do you have much maintenance with your system?

You nailed the reason we don't have a whole-house rainwater system: not enough roof area to collect enough water to last us through the longest probable drought. Dallas is not arid (40" rain/yr), but it is prone to droughts. When we were building, I researched sources for refilling the water tanks. If we could get one of those road construction trucks to deliver 500 gal of nonpotable water, we'd be set. Alas, I couldn't find a source of bulk water.

Building codes, to prevent back-washing and contamination, prohibit running city water and non-city water through the same pipes.

So we use rainwater strictly for gardening, washing, and filling the fish pond (my husband is experimenting with a homemade aquaponics system that uses water from the fish pond to grow lettuce and strawberries).

That said, in case of an emergency, we could use the rainwater, boiling it on the propane burner before ingesting.

Whole-house treatment systems are available. Some use filters + chlorine. Others use UV light for sterilizing. Our next house will probably be in the high desert and therefore need a well rather than cisterns, and at that point we will select our design a treatment system.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Hi, Elena. Glad you are here. I do have a question for your energy efficiency expertise, if that extends to window matters.

We've lived in this house almost 25 years. When we moved in the windows were tightly sealed.

Now though, the "brushes" on the windows have deteriorated. I mean the brushes that close the gap between lower window and upper window. The panes are made so they can tilt in or come out for cleaning. Do you know if those brushes can be successfully replaced? If so is there something other than a synthetic fiber brush that can be used?

To span the gap for this winter, I have found a putty like product called Moretite (Mortite, maybe?), but I'd rather make a neater seal that I wont have to re-do every time I open the windows. Moretite seems to amount to having a play-clay draft ddger on every window.

What do you think?

I'm sorry, I don't know. We purchased vinyl-frame casement Windows for most areas and "gliders" (slide horizontally) for the biggest ones. My guess is that replacement parts would be available but likely hard to find. Maybe a local hardware store (not a chain) with a knowledgeable owner could help.


vortenjou's picture

Having a bit of trouble visualizing this, but what about felted wool? Flexible, somewhat water-repellent?