[This is the Special Report 02 in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) Format. Our electronic products download immediately to your computer upon purchase.]
Through forethought you can do a lot with house design to reduce operating costs and effort. Some of the ideas take a little money initially, and pay for themselves many times over. Some ideas take no money, only a little effort, and good timing. Twelve pages, revised and updated with new reader tips, web links and comments.
- Geothermal systems
- SIP's (Structural Insulated Panels)
- House mass and orientation
- Passive and active solar systems
- ICF's (Insulated Concrete Forms)
- Heat exchangers
- Radiant vs. forced air heat
- PEX tubing and leak prevention
- Sealed combustion hot water heater vs. boiler
Excerpt from Report:
Whole house water filter
Prevents interiors of water pipes from narrowing with mineral deposits. Plumbing lasts longer. Reduces mineral deposits on glass, chrome, stainless steel and porcelain fixtures. Less cleaning. Eliminates need to purchase bottled water. Use less shampoo, detergent, and dishwashing powder. Laundered clothes last longer.
Same as above except for bottled water purchase.
Save on heating and air conditioning. In areas with cold winters, consider building up attic insulation as high as R-49. Save heating and cooling costs. Insulate secondary spaces like garage and basement to encourage use in hot and cold seasons. Affords more living space, less pressure to buy bigger house. Insulation between rooms encourages quiet and feeling of privacy. More desirable environment."...Sample Reader Tip Excerpts:
"I am an electrical contractor, building a solar home in New Mexico. The idea is to not face west too much, have plenty of mass to moderate temperatures, mature trees, good overhang. You can avoid heating cost and cooling cost with a lot of mass. We will have the first floor underground. Three walls, concrete for the subterranean parts. We will have adobe for most of the exposed skin. Dirt, clay, and emulsified asphalt. They transfer heat slowly. A ten-inch wall works well. They have bonding at the top to add lateral strength. That is six inches of solid concrete all around the upper perimeter. Plaster everything inside and you shape it to round shapes. They make an underground feeder wire you direct bury, and chip into the walls. I try to lay between courses of blocks at about the third course. We need to be less flamboyant in the use of energy. The comfort level is much higher this way. Radiant heat source is much more even."
Santa Fe, NM
"If you have an extra water heater, let the cold line run into an idle heater which brings up the water temperature to room temperature, and uses less energy when it feeds into the working water heater. Plus it's water storage in case of emergency."
Cameron & Keri G.