- Solar panels
- Clay roof with lighter colors for best reflective properties
- Thermal barrier in roof
- Windows minimized and shaded on the hot West side
- Lots of thermal mass inside house
- Argon filled windows
- Chimney effect airflow (warmer air goes up and out)
- AC unit on the shady side of the house
- Efficient lighting
- Energy Star appliances
- Heat and AC ducts inside the house envelope
The list goes on. Our goal was to get our use of AC use down to a few days per summer. This design should get us there. (For comparison, my current office is in a townhouse that is only 5-years old and I have to run the AC full-blast for about 9 months a year.)
As far as the living spaces, we did some interesting things there too. We built a small cat's bathroom for the litter boxes. And we have a Christmas tree storage closet just off the room where the tree will be displayed in December. Now I just need to talk my wife into using an artificial tree and we're all set.
We don't have a fancy foyer inside the house. That would be a waste to heat and cool. No one lives in a foyer. Instead we have a turret around the front door, so the initial visual appeal comes before you enter the conditioned part of the house.
We didn't want a formal dining room that only gets used twice a year. Our dining area will be relatively informal and just off the kitchen, serving as both the everyday table and where we entertain. I don't want any visitors who feel they are too fancy to eat where we eat.
My office will be in the house. I won't be driving to work every day and adding to the carbon overload.
The back yard will be artificial turf. Water is a big issue in California. The newer artificial grasses are impressive.
Those are a few of the features. Maybe someday you'll see the rest on Cribs.
The cartoonist fell into a trap I call a "remindsmeof." His comic was clearly about Congress, since President Obama didn't "write" the stimulus package. But the comic reminds the reader of racism and the risk of presidential assassination even though the cartoonist clearly wasn't addressing either topic. That was enough to get him into trouble.
In my early years of cartooning my editor rejected a few Dilbert comics because they were remindsmeofs. I thought it was overprotective and ridiculous. But I've since learned that you can't underestimate the public's ability to find offense where none is written. Now I recognize (usually) when I am about to blunder into a remindsmeof and I edit the comic myself. It saves time and trouble. When I offend, I prefer it to be intentional.
Friends: It's about some young, single friends
The Simpsons: cartoon about a dysfunctional family
Dilbert: Comic about a nerd and his dog
Garfield: About a cat
When you find an exception to the simplicity rule, it often proves the point. For example, Seinfeld was famously "about nothing." That should have been a recipe for failure, and indeed it had poor ratings for the first few dozen shows. I forget the details, but somehow it ran below the radar at the network because it was financed or produced in a different division than usual. That difference allowed it to stay on the air and develop quality, and an audience, while other shows with low ratings came and went.
So here is the key learning. If you are planning to create some business or other form of entertainment, you will need quality at some point to succeed. But what is more important than quality in the beginning is some intangible element that makes your project inherently interesting before anyone has even sampled it. That initial audience will give you the luxury of time to create quality.
I have a twofold test for whether something can obtain instant popularity and thus have time to achieve quality:
1. You must be able to describe it in a few words.
2. When people hear about it, they ask questions.
I saw this at work with my restaurant. We recently started what we call after hours dancing. (See how easily explained it is?) And as soon as we started talking about the idea, everyone had lots of questions. Was it live music or a DJ? What kind of music? What time does it end? Is there a cover charge? And so on. Rarely did anyone say, "That's nice. Good luck with it." Something about the idea makes people curious. And sure enough, it has been a solid success with no advertising, just word of mouth. And this immediate audience has allowed us to improve on it every week. Quality followed popularity.