This lovely log home runs on geothermal energy.
Consider high-efficiency alternatives beyond traditional HVAC systems. Options include radiant-floor, solar, geothermal heating or freestanding masonry heaters. Geothermal systems, for example, can save you as much as 70 percent on heating and 50 percent on cooling costs. While the initial investment is steep — $7,000 more than a traditional forced-air system on average — until 2021, the payback time for the additional cost is only a year or two, thanks to the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which promises homeowners a 30 percent tax credit on new systems.
To disguise the area where the geothermal loops were buried and to create a habitat for the local wildlife, the homeowners disassembled the foundation from an old barn. They used the 65 tons of rock to create a pond and formed a waterfall by layering it down the ravine.
If you opt for an HVAC system, “the key is to look at whole-system efficiency,” explains Matt Golden, CEO of Open Energy Efficiency. A load calculation should be done to size the equipment and ductwork properly. “There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution; the de facto is two sizes two big,” he says. And be sure the ductwork is sealed using mastic tape — never duct tape — as 20 percent of heated and cooled air is lost through duct leaks according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The brains of the geothermal unit are in the lower level of the house.