Small House Real Life: 600 Solar Square Feet in San Diego

Gene & Kathy Dolphin got in touch with us recently to share their real life solar small house and alternative energy experience. They were featured in the February & March 2008 issue of Home Power magazine by Christina Ammon. Home Power is a great magazine dedicated to small-scale renewable energy and sustainable living technologies like solar energy, solar systems, solar panels, renewable energy, solar power, photovoltaics, alternative energy, wind power, wind turbines, water heating, hydro power, microhydro, green energy, green power, sustainable clean energy, clean technology, electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles, home improvement, green building.

Dolphin 600 Solar Square Feet in San Diego

In their 600-square-foot home the Dolphins have brought solar energy to the mainstream. They are setting an inspiring example of clean and efficient energy generation for all of us. You got it, we are talking simple things like technological fixes (solar-electric and solar water heating systems) and changing their energy use habits. And they live like their neighbors – clothes washer, computers, a big screen LCD TV and even heated towel racks. “Guests who come to our house are amazed beyond belief that we are meeting our energy needs without sacrificing creature comforts,” says Kathy.

Dolphin 600 Solar Square Feet in San Diego

Dolphin 600 Solar Square Feet in San Diego

Dolphin 600 Solar Square Feet in San Diego

This is what Gene told us about their solar small house transformation:

Our solar home was featured in the Home Power Magazine several years ago. Since our home was not a ‘new’ home or a glorious mega-mansion, it didn’t meet the standards of the homes in the San Diego Solar Homes Tour. Only folks moving into our neighborhood or folks just walking around our neighborhood even noticed. Our home was subsequently featured on an intranet within the company where I work, and several company employees have written to say how much they were inspired about what we did … to the extent that they made the move as well.

Since the original articles, we have added a new roof, double-paned windows, Anderson Storm doors, and insulation below the house and above the ceiling, water-harvesting tanks, drought-tolerant gardening, solar LED outside lights, and have replaced our fluorescent light fixtures with high-efficiency T-8 fluorescent bulbs and ballast. We replaced our pots and pans with waterless cookware and we removed all our grass in favor of drought tolerant plants. We have replaced our water-saving Staber Washing Machine with a more efficient LG Washer. We also have a new (EUROsteam) iron that reduces the amount of energy by 1/2 of another that offers the same results (reviewed here).

Because of the excess energy of our small 1.8kwh home solar plant, we have added a far infra-red sauna to our home, as well as an electromagnetic (cold) stove.

Dolphin 600 Solar Square Feet in San Diego

Dolphin 600 Solar Square Feet in San Diego

Since the insulation, storm doors, and new windows, we have have not been forced to turn on the gas heat in the winter. We are able to use radiant heat as needed instead of turning on the gas heat. In the summer time, we can now use 2 high velocity fans to facilitate air exchange in the summer in the cool evening hours after the daytime temps would normally require air conditioning.

Once we added insulation below our wooden floor and above the ceiling, added double-pane low_e windows, and Anderson storm doors, the temperature inside the house no longer gets extreme in the summer. We don’t have a/c.

If you’d like to contact the Dolphins for more info you can reach them here:

You can view the full Home Power article here. You will have to become a member to view the article.

Thanks to the Dolphins for sharing their story and images with Small House Style! If you’d like to share your’s, read this post.

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