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Alternative Energy is too Good not to Harness

In ­today’s age of technology it is almost a shame not to implement new features in your new home construction– especially when they can save you money in the long run. In this instance, we are talking about sustainable and renewable energy– such as geothermal energy, radiant floor heating and solar panels. Our general contractor, Jim Schaffer is well versed with these technologies and can put them to work for you. As of March 2009, the federal government offers a Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit for the purchase and installation of qualifying small wind electric systems, worth 30% of the value of the system.

Geothermal Energy

"You're not making heat, you're moving heat," Colorado geothermal installer Jim Lynch says. With geothermal energy systems, they begin underground. Pipes are installed below the frost line, which tends to remain around a constant 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it easier for the system to cool in the summer and heat in the winter. The underground pipe is filled with water and the water then filters into the home to the heart of the heating and cooling system. It is called a geothermal unit and it functions as both a furnace and an air conditioner. The unit is filled with refrigerant, which allows it to heat and cool. This unit is connected to the standard ductwork in your home to distribute the air efficiently. You can add in a desuperheater, which will take the excess heat not used for heating your home and transfers that energy to heat your water, reducing the stress on your water heater and effectively reducing electrical costs. Overall, a geothermal energy system acts like a standard forced-air HVAC system– but it is much more efficient and reduces cost greatly since the base temp remains a stable 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Radiant Floor Heating

Radiant floor heating eliminates the need for ductwork and radiators to produce heat inside of the home. The system can be tied into a geothermal energy system if you would like to go with the most efficient route– however, the upfront cost of the project can be greater. How radiant floor heating works is by having a system of pipes or wires installed under your flooring. If you opt for pipes, there is hot water that flows through the pipes to warm up the flooring, once the floor is heated the excess heat rises into the air. If you go with the route of wires, electricity heats up the wires and the heat disperses through the floor and into the air– just like with heated pipes. You don’t truly realize the luxury of radiant floor heating until you can walk throughout your home barefoot in January and have your feet feel like they’re on the beach.

There are a couple major benefits of going with radiant floor heating. One is the fact that you do not have a furnace blowing air throughout your home. This can cut down on airborne allergens spreading rapidly throughout the rooms. The second is the fact that your floor is heated. With standard ductwork heating systems, much of the heat is robbed by a cold floor rather than remaining in the air. Since the flooring remains a fairly constant temperature, the air will also remain a constant temperature. No more with you find yourself having hot and cold spells inbetween the time the furnace feels the need to kick on and off.

Solar Panels

Solar panels seem to be one of the most popular forms of alternative energy. According to ForbesInstalling solar panels can decrease your household’s carbon footprint by an average of 35,180 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. You’d have to plant 88 trees every year to offset that amount of carbon dioxide!

Being we are surrounded by nature, adding features such as solar panels to new home construction in Missoula (or already existing homes) can greatly aid in maintaining the life of our surroundings.

The way solar panels work is pretty simple. The panels are essentially special batteries that can capture sunlight and harnesses its energy. That energy is then sent to an inverter that converts the energy into a working form of electricity to power your home. When done properly, you can save an average of $84.ºº per month on your electricity bill– while also aiding in saving the environment.


If you have any questions about utilizing these alternative energy resources in your current home, or implementing them into the blueprints of your new home construction in Missoula– don’t hesitate to contact Straightedge Construction!

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