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Going Green

Get Green! This group is for those who are building (or have built) a "Green" log home using sustainable methods such as solar, wind, and geothermal energy. Also we will be discussing getting back to nature, organic gardening, and other topics.

Members: 52
Latest Activity: Nov 3, 2015

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Interested in a self-sustaining lifestyle that embraces nature? Then let's talk about our experiences and adventures in Green building. The fact that we all love log homes expresses our mutual respect for nature and the earth.

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Started by Ramy Jisha Jun 8, 2014.

How Wonderful! 3 Replies

Started by Sharie Gold. Last reply by Bryant J. Cochran Jr. Jul 11, 2013.

Inexpensive Ideas for air freshners for the house! 11 Replies

Started by Kelly. Last reply by scott.surridge Mar 18, 2011.

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Comment by Glenn V on January 25, 2010 at 1:06am
Thanks for your input Joe. I do wish I will be able to go with geo thermal when I build. I do think zoning heat is a good idea but only if the rooms can be closed in and also if they are used occasionally. I think many people already zone rooms just by closing the registers down if they are able to. A lot of homes nowdays have an open floor plan so its usually only a couple of rooms you can zone. Normally when you use a setback thermostat it will set it down at night when you are sleeping and down in the daytime when your at work. Saving energy for the whole house. Of course setting it back if you are home, you will be cold and over ride it. I haven't read your point of view about energy credits before. It is interesting and something to think about. I know the idea of the credits is to support saving energy and especially helps people get into something "greener" that normally wouldn't be able to afford it. Although I do think some people take advantage of it and raise their prices to make a larger profit. I think it does support strong development in systems already being used. A lot of times the payback is important. Most people seem to move every 5 years and if it takes a while for payback then it isn't cost effective, although still environmentally the right thing to do. I do agree with you on most of your thoughts as there are many ways to conserve and save. Thanks Joe.
Comment by Joe on January 24, 2010 at 4:48pm
I'll take the bait. I'm not convinced setting back the therostat is the answer in that we feel cold because heat goes from hot to cold. Our body at 98 degrees is radiating to the walls and windows. The lower their temperature the colder we feel. Human nature, ie the wife, then turns the thermostat up to compensate and all the savings goes out the window. I should mention that the transference of heat to cold is exponential not linear. That one degree raise in the house temperature causes a big loss to the outside air. A log is obviously cold on oneside and warm on the other, but remember its insulating rating is less than a stick wall. But, now comes "thermal mass". That means that in the evening you feel "warmer" because you are not radiating as much to the log wall due to it's poor conduction rate (thermal mass) but only if you don't let that wall get cold during the night. Of course if the log wall with windows faces south on a sunny day it probably helps warm up the inside walls which means you radiate less heat that night but the rest of the house in the shade is losing heat through the logs. If you stand near a cold cement wall verus a cold wood wall you feel warmer because you are radiating less to the wood as it is not a good conductor of heat. Think wood windows versus aluminum. I have never seen ice on inside wood frames but I have on aluminum. Think wood floors versus tile. They are really at the same temperature but you aren't radiating at the same rate, you feel warmer. I hope I have all that straight.

I think it would be smarter to invest in splitting the system to keep bedrooms or unused areas colder then the living room area if the walls are somewhat insulated and doors kept shut. There are automatic vent controls out there to do this or just close the ducts down slightly assuming the thermotat is in the warmer area.

Ceiling fans make a huge difference in comfort. I have a 11,000 sq ft warehouse in Michigan. with 24 foot ceilings double floored. It was cold on the floor and hot on the second deck. Being cheap I put in 2 $69.95 house fans in the open area which is way less then I was told I would need. It made an amazing difference in comfort without touching the thermostat.

For someone building from scratch I would look at geo thermal with pipes in the ground but see if they can be put in the trench when the water and/or septic lines are being put in to save money. They don't need to be vertical. Put them in the foundation hole if the county allows it. In most places if you can get down 24 to 48 inches you are going to find 55 degrees year round. This simply means that you can start warming air from 55 degrees to 70 degree versus 10 degree in winter to 70 degrees. Remember that exponential rule. The same applies when cooling the house.

I'll get shot here, but I'm totally against credits for green. I don't think its fair to take our tax money and subsidize other's heating and cooling bills. I think it delays development of better systems since you are supporting systems that can't make it on their own. I believe it is much smarter for people to take the extra cost that WILL come out of their pocket and use that money to pay for better insulation in walls and windows. Going to an 8 or 10 inch log will probably be cheaper and more cost effective then an extra $10,000 out of the owners pocket in paying for some exotic heating systems.

Comment by Glenn V on January 24, 2010 at 1:57pm
This group has been kind of quiet so I thought I would post something. If I miss state something please feel free to correct me. I mainly post to give someone an idea to do further research if they so desire.
Setback thermostats are a good thing. For every one degree you turn your heat down or A/C up over an 8 hour period you will save 1% on energy; for the most part. Setting temperatures up and down for homes with thermal mass has been debated. It saves approximately the same energy to cool a home from 70 to 60 as is needed to heat it from 60 back up to 70, thus those even out. So the longer you can keep it lower ( for heating) the more energy and money you will save. Newer thermostats, called 5-2, the ones you can program 4 settings for M-F and 4 settings each for Saturday and Sunday better fit peoples lifestyle. When you set it for example on wake up to 70 from being 60 overnight, at 7:00 , it will be 70 at 7. They come on before 7 and will adjust depending on how much heat loss you get overnight to get it back up to 70 degrees by 7:00. Now back to that 1% , for the most part. If you have a 10 degree setback, your home may not actually loose 10 degrees at night. It may only be 3 or maybe 5 degrees that it cools overnight, so in that case you wouldn't save 10% but only 3% or 5% depending on how much heat loss you have. If it costs you $2000 to heat your home for the season and you can save 10% accounting for 2 setback times saving 5% each you can pay for the thermostat in one to two years depending on how expensive you go and if you pay someone to install it. Thinking of the thermostat as an investment, for example investing $200 and in one or two years having 100% return on it seems like a good idea to me. After the cost of the thermostat is recovered, its like finding two $100 bills on the sidewalk every year. Whether you believe in global warming or not, it will help save energy, money, and help cut your carbon footprint.
Comment by Anthony on October 26, 2009 at 8:55pm
There is some very good information on here-Thanks. I am planning on building a log home in The Catskills, NY in the spring. I really want to use Geothermal and have been doing a bunch of reading on it. I am trying to get a handle on ball park costs. I gave one Geo company my plans and I think the estimate is outragous. ($40,000+ for a 2,000 Sqft- the tax credit brings is to $29,000). How much more should I expect vs a fossil system? 20%, 30%, 100%?
Comment by Rose Marie on August 6, 2009 at 1:45pm
Norb, thanks for the info - I will most definitely check that out.
Although we have a traditional heating system (hot water baseboard), we heat primarily with wood. The new house will also have wood heat, but we need something that will keep the house from freezing up when we go on vacation for several weeks during the winter.

I visited an open house in my area (foothills of the northeastern Adirondacks) in which the homeowner was completely off-grid. He had recently built his home, an it was powered by wind, solar and geothermal. He led me to believe that geo wouldn't "keep up" during a typical north country cold snap. He had a fuel oil backup. Now I realize I have to continue researching - thank you!
Comment by Norb on August 5, 2009 at 12:43pm
Hi Rose Marie. We are building in central NY, approx 1 hour east of Binghamton. There are thousands of geothermal installs in NYS who use it as the sole energy source. My contractor is currently doing 3 installs per week in NY. Check out the following link for plenty of geothermal information in NYS, including a list of qualified designers and installers all over the state:

Give some of them a call to see what they can or can't do for your area. The technology has come a long way.
Regards, Norb
Comment by Rose Marie on August 5, 2009 at 11:07am
Norb, in what part of the country are you building? I've been advised that geothermal wouldn't be adequate as the sole heating source in the cold climate where I live.
Comment by Norb on August 5, 2009 at 9:02am
Hello, Greenies. I've been doing my research on geothermal. The 30% tax credit is a nice incentive. I plan to do my log home, that we're building in the spring, with geothermal radiant heating. I'll share the do's and don'ts with the group as I go along.
Comment by Rose Marie on August 5, 2009 at 8:42am
Craigmandu, love the wife's assessment of your composting toilet idea - too funny.
Comment by Glenn V on June 8, 2009 at 10:41pm
The system that I have uses a standard 40 gal natural gas water heater. It has pumps to circulate the water to the roof, to 2 myson heaters one in the basement and one on the main floor and to the water heater. The water heater is not in the solar panel loops but it heats the water thru a coil that transfers the heat from the 80 gal tanks thru the coil to heat the water in the hot water heater. I shut the pilot off for the water heater from spring to fall. The 80 gal tanks are only for storage. Many geo thermal systems also heat the hot water for the homes instead of using the roof panels. The pumps that are used for solar are low wattage so use little electricity. Randy is more of an expert on the solar water systems since he sells them and I'm sure he would be happy to help with more of the technical stuff. Mine works great.

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