This may sound nice on paper, but the energy savings speak for themselves. “My utility bills for heat, hot water, everything, never get above $150 a month, even in the winter,” Morgan says. She describes how the passive solar design makes the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. “In the winter months, when the sun is low in the sky, the sunlight is absorbed in the concrete floor. If it’s 20 degrees and sunny, it’s 80 degrees in here with the heat off.”
Morgan made green choices whenever possible with fixtures such as a dual-flush toilet, on demand water heater, and smaller sized appliances. She simultaneously made economical choices as well by searching for designer overstocks, eBay bargains, and used pieces.
Living alone, she depends on her own knowledge and know-how to tackle many of the maintenance and upgrade tasks that accompany any home. She is also quick to point out that the materials she chose also are extremely low maintenance. DIY projects included the bathroom tile, all the interior painting, exterior stucco work, and a project she would not wish to repeat: installing the woodstove.
Of the woodstove project, which involved hiking up and onto the roof to cut a hole with a Sawsall (through corrugated steel no less), she says, “My motto is ‘How hard could it be? I could do that,’ which gets me into all kinds of trouble! How hard could it be? Pretty damn hard!”
Was the hard work worth it? Morgan readily acknowledges the frustrations and trial-and-error that might sound familiar to anyone building a new house. She laughs that the process “definitely involved a lot of crying,” and took about a year to finish. Now that the project is done and she has been happily settled in the house for two years, she reflects back on it noting “this house was all about anticipating what I would need. There might be little things that I would change, but not much. I could live in this house forever.”
A disgrace? Hardly. The next time someone bothers to leave a note in front of the house, he or she should take a moment and look through Jennifer Morgan’s window.