For the last 20 or more years we have made a concerted effort to reduce our energy usage and at the same time create a healthy living environment. This property has many energy saving features that hopefully will appeal to you. A pellet boiler for instance, may be completely foreign to you but with a few minutes of simple cleaning a week it performs just like any boiler while using locally grown renewable resources created with local labor. The solar electric arrays that feed both buildings will run for an extremely long time, 25 years or more, with no maintenance, all while supplying clean, quite and free electricity. View a multiple year energy report (pdf) here.
The battery backup systems maintain our critical loads when the power goes out and requires almost no maintenance at all. In the house we power the refrigerator, the freezer and some critical lighting. If you’ve been through a long power outage you know it can sound like you live next to an airport, with all the generators running. Batteries may not run the entire house but they are quiet and power up automatically when the power goes out. In the studio the battery backup is designed to protect computers throughout the building.
As we are in the alternative energy business and will be moving just across town we will make ourselves available to help in your learning curve if you like the opportunity to save energy but are not familiar with all the hardware.
The design and construction are unique. While the walls are conventionally framed the first floor ceiling is built using on-property sourced pine logs, hauled from the woods using horses and hand stripped of bark to maximize the natural wood color and texture. The timber framed ceiling creates a dramatic look and feel of a log cabin without the poor insulation of a log house. The main stairway is built from whole logs, hand sculpted to fit half log stairs creating a rustic and solid look. Exterior log trusses on the south and north deck overhangs carry the look to the outside along with log posts that support the extensive deck areas. Log railings complete the look. View the floor diagram (pdf) here.
All the walls are 2×6 excluding the west two-story wall which is 2×8. All walls are insulated with fiberglas batts plus an added layer of 1” foil faced foam board in the inside, foamed and taped for air flow reduction. An average year consumed 3.5 cords of wood which is low for a house this size.
Windows are all Anderson double pane vinyl exterior
The foundation is covered on the outside with 2” of rigid foam and a portion of the inside has an additional layer of 1” foam with fire retardant facing.
There is a wood stove in the living room capable of heating the entire house using a simple air circulation system that draws cold air off the floor in the north end of the house through three registers, and blows it out at the top of the cathedral ceiling creating a quiet and constant flow of warm air through the house. The wood stove is currently only used when the outside temperature drops below 10 degrees.
A 20 kilowatt pellet boiler connected to a 90 gallon buffer tank runs the radiant floor system in the entire first floor and the second floor bathroom shower floor and towel bar. Piping runs beneath the first floor and is insulated from below keeping the warm pipes tight against the floor. It also is setup to heat a hot tub. A pellet boiler uses locally grow scrap wood, manufactured with local labor. A truck connects to the 3 ton hopper and blows in pellets juts like an oil delivery. The vacuum auger runs once a day to fill the day hopper.
The master bedroom has a mini split heat pump for heating and cooling.
The pellet boiler heats a 90 gallon tank of water that supplies the radiant floor and also creates hot water for domestic use. There is also a Rinnai instantaneous water heater when not running the pellet boiler. We discovered during the summer of 2015 that we could run the pellet boiler all summer to make hot water at a lower cost than propane and we kept the basement humidity low as well.
Fresh Air: http://www.venmar-usa.com
There’s a raging conflict about insulating houses so tight that you need to add fresh air. The truth is, in the winter just about every house has unhealthy indoor air, so introducing fresh air is a good thing. An air to air heat exchanger brings in fresh outside air, passes it through a box where it is warmed by stale inside air on its way out. This way we can introduce fresh outside air and still maintain 80+% of the energy in the warm air. The system runs silently, 20 minutes an hour, to insure the air quality in the house is healthy. Fresh air is introduced to the bedrooms and at the top of the cathedral ceiling and pulled from the bathrooms and basement.
Window Quilts: http://www.windowquilt.com
Windows Quilts are insulating window covering with an internal layer of air tight mylar and synthetic insulation on both sides. The quilt runs in tracks on the sides of the windows so lowering them created a near air tight seal. They have been installed on many windows in the house. They are easily raised and lowered with a pull cord and provide substantial reduction in heat loss from large windows.
The front and side doors plus the back deck doors have screens and storm windows.
Adjacent to the wetlands on the south side is a 12 panel solar electric array to provide power to the house. The solar system runs completely unattended and will continue for many years to come, maintenance free. There is also a battery backup system that runs critical loads in the house like the refrigerator and freezer if the power goes out. In addition a Prius can be connected to the system and act as a backup generator feeding silent power directly to the storage batteries. There is a 500 gallon buried propane tank adjacent to the house currently only used for the instantaneous water heater.
The kitchen has a brand new Induction cooktop which uses cast iron and other magnetic steel pots and pans to cook at startling speed. It looks like a standard ceramic cooktop but it functions very differently. It can literally boil water in 15-20 seconds and has an amazing level of control. We’ve always liked propane for the control but the induction cooktop is far more precise and faster to boot. Ventilation is from a recessed Thermidor ventilator that raises up behind the cooktop when needed
The oven is an electric wall mount.