BRIGHT-MINDED HOME – December 2013

BRIGHT-MINDED HOME – December 2013
By Melissa Coleman

Q+A with Mike and Margie Shannon of Belfast Cohousing and Ecovillage  


Having lived off-grid and with wood heat for nearly 25 years, Mike and Margie Shannon were seeking alternative housing that would offer less physical effort, more interaction with neighbors, a focus on energy efficiency, and the opportunity to help design, nurture, and build community with like-minded folks. They found it all at Belfast Cohousing and Ecovillage, where 36 private dwellings were designed by GO Logic to Passive House standards, with superinsulated 14-inch walls, triple-glazed windows, solar photovoltaics, baseboard electric heaters, and a heat recovery ventilation (HRV) system.

Q: What features have you most appreciated about your home?

A: The Unilux windows imported from Germany are large, tilt in from the top, open like doors, provide fantastic views of a big field, and make the space bright and seem bigger. We also enjoy the HRV that filters the air and prevents mildew, and the thick insulation keeps the temperature constant and soundproofs us from outside noises.

Q: What are your total energy bills? 

A: We used 3,589 kilowatt hours (kWh) from February to September, for an average of $60 per month for all utilities—electricity, heat, and hot water—or about $720 a year for our 900-square-foot home. However, our 3,600-kilowatt solar array produced 3,813 kWh during that time, so Central Maine Power owes us $33!

Q: Have you made, or will you make, any additions?

A: We grow a lot of food and can vegetables, so we added a pantry. We are now in the process of planting trees and shrubs for a windbreak on the west side of the property, and the village common house designed by Elliott and Elliott Architecture will be built by GO Logic next year.   

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