Little House on the Fish Farm is designed with several energy saving features to reduce its carbon footprint.
Six inch walls offer 50% more insulation than the standard wall. Instead of a cold cement slab, a sub-floor was built which allows six more inches of insulation. These two features conserve heat and help maintain the temperature of the house year round. An additional benefit of the sub-floor is the barrier it creates between the dry living space and the perpetually damp river bottom soil. Three-stage stucco on the exterior walls offers summer durability and winter heat absorption.
Passive solar energy is achieved through the east-west orientation of the house, south facing windows, and the length and angle of the eaves. This maximizes shading of the low E-rated dual-pane windows in the summer and solar exposure in the winter. Landscaping also plays a crucial role. Large evergreen trees to the west of the house provide shade during the hottest part of the day. Deciduous trees are planted on the south for shading in the summer while allowing the sun’s warmth to radiate into the house in the winter.
A green alternative to cooling the house is an evaporative cooler. An evaporative cooler is old fashioned technology that works particularly well in the dry Central Valley heat. It takes advantage of the 10% drop in temperature as air passes over a thin layer of water. It is the cooling effect you experience when you are wearing wet clothes on a windy day. An evaporative cooler uses one fifth the energy of an air conditioner, significantly reducing energy consumption.