What We Would Have Done Differently
On the anniversary of the Ultimate Home the homeowners were kind enough to invite us back in the house for feedback on their experience thus far.
Though it has been overwhelmingly positive, there are a few things they would do differently if they had to start over.
1) They Would Make the Home Quieter
The homeowners enjoy the geothermal heating and air conditioning system; however, it can be a little noisy under the floor when the unit kicks on. One of the important components of the NetZero energy star package is a sealed and conditioned crawlspace. A sealed crawlspace reduces energy loss and the overall humidity in a home. However, since it is not necessary to have an insulation barrier between a sealed crawlspace and the floor, there is nothing to dampen the sound of the geo-unit.
Builders and owners of homes with sealed crawlspaces should consider spraying a layer of foam insulation under the floor as a sound barrier for the HVAC system. Though the Ultimate Home-owners would not mind if the geo-unit was a little quieter, they like it considerably better than their propane water heater.
2) They Would Not Use a Propane Water Heater
The LP water heater costs the Ultimate Home-owners $95 per month. Unhappy with the inflated energy costs of their propane water heater, the homeowners researched an alternative and decided to replace it with the GE Geospring water heater. The Geospring is a hybrid electric water heater that utilizes a heat transfer to warm the water, rather than heating the water itself. In other words, similarly to the way in which the geothermal HVAC system utilizes the heat in the ground to warm the house in winter, the Geospring water heater utilizes the heat in the air to warm the water.
For the Ultimate Home-owners, heating, cooling, and storing water are important factors to consider for living totally green and off the grid. In addition to finding ways to heat water more efficiently, the homeowners would have made changes to the way in which they collect and reclaim their water.
3) They Would Have Installed Larger Gutters
The homeowners are very happy with their energy efficient metal roof. The combination of the roofing and spray foam insulation means it can be a comfortable 80 degrees in the attic on the hottest summer day. However, if they had to start the building process again, the homeowners would have added larger gutters to their metal roof.
The Ultimate Home-owners reclaim rainwater runoff, using it for landscape watering and irrigation. We did not anticipate how fast the rain would run off of the metal roof. Larger gutters would help collect more rainwater and reduce ponding around the home.
Even though there are a few changes they have made and things they would have done differently, ultimately, the homeowners are very happy with their NetZero, energy efficient house. Next time we will break down the statistics and examine their energy savings by the numbers.