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Meet the Most-Palmer Family: An Efficiency Oasis on Orcas Island

Orcas Island familyTucked away in a little oasis right outside of Eastsound, meet James, Sara Joy and June who have turned their land into a prime example of our energy future. They have solar panels, a solar hot water heater, electric tools, a Ductless Heat Pump and their home has been primed for maximum efficiency.

“It just makes so much sense to tap into these technologies that are far superior,” says James Most, who runs his own landscape contracting business specializing in irrigation systems. “They save you money and are the right thing to do.”

Walking around their two-acre parcel – where every part of it is being well utilized with gardens, bees, chickens, EV chargers, fruit trees, a wood-fired hot tub – you get a sense that this OPALCO family has been very intentional and thoughtful in their setup.  James and Sara Joy both came to Orcas 10 years ago. Sara Joy Palmer works for San Juan county in their WIC program.  June is the newest addition to the family boasting her four-year-old status and her attendance at Orcas Montessori School.

electric toolsThey bought their property four years ago and immediately started doing upgrades. They enrolled in the Home Energy Challenge program (through the Opportunity Council) so they could insulate and install more efficient appliances including a Ductless Heat Pump. After making the switch from relying on wood and electric resistance heating, they watched their power bill plummet even as they used electricity as their primary heat source.  They replaced their roof, so it made sense to put solar panels on during that upgrade. For the majority of the year (April – November, depending on weather), their solar production more than covers their usage and they are able to avoid any kWh charges on their electric bill.

The family has a seasonal outdoor bath house that is powered by a solar hot water

solar panels

heater. Their latest upgrade was replacing their old Volvo with an all-electric Nissan Leaf.

The morning the family’s Volvo no longer started, James walked to the new EV dealership on Orcas and got his all-electric car.  He can drive all over Orcas for his landscaping business for pennies compared to what he paid in gasoline.

James and Sara Joy love to share their projects with their friends and neighbors and inspire them to get on board with energy efficiency. They have made good use of the various rebates and on-bill financing programs, like Switch It Up! that OPALCO has to offer. To find more about how you can get started, visit

OPALCO is powered by YOU – the members who own and operate the co-op! October is National Co-op Month. OPALCO is proud to be YOUR locally-owned and operated non-profit co-op. Be sure to vote in all elections including national, local and the annual OPALCO election for our Board of Directors.

gourdwood fired hot tubgarlic

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