Cut Your Solar Payback Time In Half By Billing Your Tenants For Electricity You Generate For Free

This year I decided to go solar at my house. The projections called for me to get the payback period within 15 years (and only 9 years if I manage to get all the tax rebates which is unlikely). I was not satisfied with a 15 year payback so I started thinking about ways I could cut that down to less than 5 years instead. Seemed to me there are 2 ways to do that :

  1. Use electricity instead of fossil fuels (buy an electric car, install an efficient electric air-air heat pump instead of using propane to heat)
  2. Sell some of the electricity I produce back to my tenants

I decided that the best course of action was to do both. Since I could not afford an electric car with the range I would need I purchased a 12,000 BTU Mitsubishi Air/Air heat exchanger from for $1599 shipped (available here). As a side not you need to get a line set with the heat pump which will add another $99-200 depending on the length. There are much cheaper Chinese units out (like 1/2 the price) there but my hope is that I’ll be able to get parts for it when it breaks and that it will last at least 10 years. I talked to lots of people with Mitsubishi heat pumps and they all love them. One thing that I really hate is this disposable society where people just throw things away rather than trying to fix them. I will do a separate article in the future on installing the heat pump and a review.


A Minisplit heat pump can heat with about 1/3 the amount of electricity as an electric space heater

This article is mainly talking about the process of connecting the breaker boxes for my tenants together and turning them into sub-panels and setting it up so that their electricity usage is automatically tracked and they are billed every month using Eyedro energy monitors.

Continue reading

Putting the ‘Tiny’ into ‘Tiny Chestnut Paradise’

My son and I have been working for about 1 day every week for the last 6 months on building one of the coolest tiny houses I’ve seen yet. The construction is not yet complete, but I thought I would give you a preview of how far we’ve gotten done in such a small amount of time. Typically we work only 4-5 hours so we’ve gotten to the level of completion in the video with only 300 man-hours of work (~125 each + 50 hours for the work party).

The first work party where a few of my close friends showed up to help put up the walls and the roof

Continue reading

It Begins

It all began with 7 days straight of driving a bulldozer 7-8 hours a day.


The D5 dozer from Carson Rental in Ithaca was very affordable at only $2000 for a week (included delivery & damage waiver)

Cleaning off the frozen clay took me 14 hours with a pressure washer. I don’t advise doing projects like this in the winter unless you’re a masochist.


I was able to dig 14 ponds and swale out 30 acres in one week

Continue reading