When our heating contractor Tony Silverio told us we had a choice between a closed loop and an open loop geothermal system, our first inclination was simply to go with the least expensive.
That’s in part because we already knew we’d be spending significantly more upfront for a geothermal system than we would have for traditional heating in exchange for the long-term savings geothermal produces. ( Continue… )
The wonder of a geothermal heating and cooling system is that it uses use the energy naturally stored in the ground to heat and cool your house.
Some extra juice is needed, of course, to run a heat pump to keep the system operating, but it amounts to a fraction – as little as 30 percent – of what a traditional gas or oil burner would use. Your main source of comfort in your home is just what's under the good green earth.
That was in perfect harmony with my vision of our green renovation of Sheep Dog Hollow, and so it made sense to put it in, even though it cost significantly more than a traditional heating system. ( Continue… )
The decision to install energy efficient windows for our green renovation of Sheepdog Hollow was a no-brainer: The better a house is insulated, the more efficiently its heating and cooling systems will work.
And since we love natural light and want to take advantage of the bucolic views of the rolling fields, graceful old elms, and a pond on the property, we knew we were going to put in a lot of windows.
The key question was: how to choose the best window, with the best thermal efficiency, for the job. ( Continue… )
I knew we wanted to put in high quality, energy-efficient windows for our renovation of Sheepdog Hollow simply because that appeared to be the right thing to do – especially since we opted to install geothermal heating.
For geothermal heating to work as efficiently as possible, your house has to be buttoned up tight, as insulated as possible. And so, obviously, we need to have energy-efficient windows that work to keep heat in and cold temperatures out.
As I began to do some research, what really impressed me about some energy-efficient windows has nothing to do with sustainability or heat loss. It has to do with cleaning. ( Continue… )
I’m sold on geothermal heating. Just check out my previous blog post. But being trained as a journalist, I can’t help but strive for at least some kind of balance. And so, I’ve felt it necessary to outline some of the various problems associated with geothermal residential heating.
First, let’s start with the very basics – the word geothermal itself. Several helpful readers have noted that there’s a bit of confusion about just what it means. So let’s get that cleared up.
Geothermal, as the word is traditionally used, refers to harnessing “energy from ‘hot spots’ in the earth's crust, and can only be employed in locations where these exist,” according to the website Lighthouse. ( Continue… )
As an indication of how completely antediluvian I was in terms of my Green IQ (a term I thought I’d just made up, but is actually all over the place, I had not even known that geothermal heating and cooling was a viable option in the Northeast until after we’d already bought Sheep Dog Hollow.
Martin and I were standing outside the house with Dale King, the previous owner who is also our lead builder and who lives down the road. (More on Dale later.) I was talking about how we’d like to renovate as “greenly” as possible but also maintain the historic nature of the house.
I didn’t like the idea of having huge, high tech solar panels glinting on top of the elegant old white clapboard frame. ( Continue… )
I ended my last post with the conclusion that hiring a “green expert” would be too expensive and so I would not hire one, but would do the research about various green building techniques myself (which I will then share with you).
In that way, I concluded, Martin and I could make informed decisions about which technologies to use based on our limited budget and save the money we’d use on an expert.
Even as I was writing that last sentence, I knew that I had not done due diligence. ( Continue… )
I begin this post with a confession. I have not yet hired a “green expert” to guide us as we undertake the massive renovation of Sheep Dog Hollow. The primary reason is that we are also trying to do it in a budget-conscious way. (We definitely don’t want to go broke in the process.)
I figured that with the resources available on the Internet and wise counsel from friends, colleagues, and experienced contractors, we could figure out how to go green ourselves and save some money.
And then I remembered the idiom "penny wise, pound foolish." And so I began to research how I’d go about finding a “green expert” as well as the rationale for using one. ( Continue… )
OK, so you’ve decided to take the plunge with me and “go green” – or at least as green as possible.
From my last post, you’re now fully advised that some research and up-front money will be needed. (The cliché that “to go green you’re going to need some green” is too worn for even me to use, alas.)
Now comes the next hurdle, which I confess, I have not read about anywhere else. I call it the “green intimidation factor.” ( Continue… )
Deciding to renovate a home in as green and environmentally responsible manner as possible is something that requires much advance thought and research. Although, to be honest, I didn’t know that at the time I made the decision about Sheep Dog Hollow.
No, like my decision to buy the lovely, broken-down old farmhouse (described in the Oct. 25 issue of the Monitor's weekly print edition) and quit my job in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression, it was one of those intuitive things. It just felt very strongly like the right thing to do. ( Continue… )