Clinging to a south-facing slope on 13 acres above Wards Creek is Scott Curry and Tausha Becker’s 6-year-old home—a carefully designed structure that ingeniously integrates forward-thinking solar power and the couple’s aesthetic for antiques, early Americana and a splash of French country.
Whatever we could do to minimize use from coal-fired energy sources, we looked into,” says Curry, a civil and environmental engineer for the state of Oregon. “Solar is clean green power, as opposed to coal that has to be brought in from other places.”
Thanks to a grant from the Energy Trust of Oregon, investing in solar energy became a reality for Scott Curry and Tausha Becker, who installed 18 solar panels onto their Rogue River home last year. Between the grant and solar power tax breaks, what would have cost about $25,000 to install was reduced to about $16,000. Tax breaks and incentives from other programs further reduced the installation cost to about half the original estimate.
And the savings didn’t stop there. By using solar power, the couple’s electricity bills were cut by over a quarter in the first year.
“It’s a three kilowatt system that produces 3,000 watts of electricity constantly in full sun and about 20 watts in a drizzle,” Scott explains. The solar energy travels from the panels through wires that are connected to an inverter on the side of the house. Here, the current is changed from DC to AC, making it usable.
A bi-directional digital meter, which came with the couple’s Pacific Power contract, shows both how much energy the panels are producing as well as how much power is being used. Because the system is tied into Pacific Power’s grid, whatever solar power isn’t used by the house is “sold back” to the energy company, at about 4 cents per kilowatt. Whenever the house requires more electricity than is produced by the sun, the couple purchases it at Pacific Power’s going rate of about 7 cents per kilowatt.
ldquo;It’s kind of cool because in the summer we make a lot of power and sell it back to the grid,” says Tausha. “It’s not a lot of money, but it’s better than a kick in the pants.”
To make tapping into Oregon sunshine more affordable, the Energy Trust offers cash incentives of up to $10,000 per homeowner. To learn more about the program and additional tax breaks, call 1-866-ENTRUST (1-866-368-7878).
Five years after the couple designed their 1800-square-foot home, with a 600-square-foot basement studio apartment and three-car garage, they installed 18 solar panels on the roof. Now just over a quarter of their power comes from the sun.
And the sun also provides plenty of non-electric light in this three bedroom, three bath home. As part of their custom plan, the couple covered walls and ceilings in skylights and windows.
“I knew what I wanted in the interior and worked with the architect for seven months to get it there,” says Tausha, whose vision takes advantage of the southern exposure. “Scott and I both very much like light so every door is either a butler door with a transom on the top, French doors or sliding doors.” To combat excess heat in the summer, Tausha found solar shades that act as awnings and do double duty as air conditioning and protection from fading on both the exterior cedar siding and interior textiles.
More temperature regulation comes from an 8-inch-thick retaining wall that creates the home’s northern foundation. Inside, the wall has become the base for a triple garage, an expanse of space that holds Scott’s various toys as well as his glassed-in office and music studio.
Next to the garage is Tausha’s bright yellow sewing studio/guest suite. “It’s perfect for when our daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren visit,” says Tausha of the space with its en suite bath and kitchenette.
A metal spiral staircase leads to the home’s main living space, where the couple’s eclectic décor and whimsical architectural features speak volumes about their love of family, home and all things vintage.
Crafting is welcome in a utility corridor on the east side of the home; the other side houses a guest room, cozied up with historic quilts, a trundle bed, rich red walls, old-fashioned dolls and lacy curtains.
“I love rustic country touches and I like to keep things that are endearing to me,” Tausha says.
A French country attitude rules in the open kitchen, where an L-shaped island hosts the family’s six avid cooks. Here, red and blue accents, polished brass pendant lights and collectibles enliven light-colored walls and slate-looking tile.
“We didn’t go too high-end because we built this house to be kid-friendly and easy cleaning,” says Tausha.
Bits of luxury find their place in, however. Lit by French doors that open onto wraparound decks, the expansive living room with its varied heights of plant shelves, angled walls and vaulted ceiling welcomes oversized red leather armchairs, a jungle of plants, a warm wood-burning stove and vintage accessories like embroidered samplers, ladder-back chairs and wooden horses.
The rakish angles (“everything’s just a little askew around here,” laughs Tausha) continue into the triangle-shaped powder room that separates the living area from the master bedroom. Yellow walls, an upholstered ottoman and shower curtain made from material “lugged all over France” by Tausha brighten the corners.
On the west side of the house is the couple’s bedroom, which opens onto a deck with a built-in hot tub. Very French — with its checked textiles, alcoves, red shades, wooden furniture and lace touches — the room abuts a giant madrone tree, adding just the sort of natural décor so beloved by Scott and Tausha.
Whether inside or outside, this home capitalizes on the Rogue Valley’s natural wonders.