Green Retrofit

Posted by Caryn Colgan | Oct 18, 2009
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Solar Panels Roof

For many years homeowner Sean Geiger researched eco-friendly energy sources with a plan to convert his 1990's home in Louisville, Colorado from natural gas and utility company supplied electricity to solar and geothermal energy sources. To accomplish this conversion, he added two solar panel arrays to the roof of his home, careful not to cover the two sky lights that provide natural lighting throughout the day. The two arrays are oriented on the available sun-facing southwest and southeast roof faces.

Solar Inverters

Since the two solar panel arrays generate different amounts of energy depending on where the sun is in relation to the arrays, the homeowner installed two separate inverters to manage the electrical output. These inverters in turn provide energy for the home's electrical needs, including an energy saving heat pump.

Heat Pump

By adding 4" polyisocynurate foam insulation boards to the custom solar domestic hot water tank, the homeowner keeps the heated water hot.

Heat Pump

The home's primary heat source is a 4-ton (48,000 BTU/hour) ground source heat pump added in March 2008. Its "loop field" consists of four long plastic tubes buried in the backyard to a depth of 200 feet. The heat pump draws low-temperature antifreeze liquid from the loop field. The heat pump compressor then converts low-temperature heat to a higher temperature, and the higher-temperature liquid is circulated through living areas as radiant floor heat or heated air to be blown throughout the house by an air handler/heat exchanger mounted to the existing ductwork.

Copper Coils Energy Monitors

The homeowner added two flow meters to the solar hot water tank in order to monitor static water level and flow rate as the water flows from the two parallel solar collectors to the tank. The heat exchanger coils immersed within the tank pre-heats domestic water for the home's plumbing system. If the water flows too quickly it will not be too cold as it enters the home's plumbing system for sinks, showers and tubs.

On-Demand Hot Water Heaters

Rather than install a standard, energy-wasting water heater for backup on cloudy days, the homeowner installed a fully-modulating on-demand water heater. The fully-modulating styles add incremental amounts of heat as necessary to achieve the target water temperature. Most models of on-demand, or tankless, water heaters are not fully-modulating. This low profile, electricity powered appliance heats water only when a hot water faucet is turned on. By contrast, standard water heaters waste energy by heating water even when it is not being used.

Laundry Dryers

To reduce his energy footprint, the homeowner does not use a clothes dryer but opts to dry clothes on a line hung in his basement. Homeowners can easily reduce their energy usage by hanging clothes on lines to dry rather than operate their gas or electric dryers.

Natural Light

The family room is outfitted with both hardwood and slate flooring. Radiant heat keeps the floor warm in the winter. Two large skylights provide year-round natural lighting. By reducing the number of lights that need to be on during the day the homeowner uses less energy.

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