The MCCarthy’s New Home – Efficient and Elegant
by Dee and Kevin McCarthy
We recently finished a new home here in Park City. During the planning stages, we were very specific about taking advantage of any and all energy efficient and renewable energy options available.
Since it was new construction, many of the ideas were fairly simple to incorporate into the new home. With new options available every day,it would be foolish not to include every one we could.
The house was planned as Universal design, which refers to broad-spectrum ideas meant to produce buildings, products and environments that are inherently accessible to older people, people without disabilities, and people with disabilities.
There is not a single step in the one-level living area or entrances, the main shower has an uninterrupted, no door entry passage. To facilitate to the possibility of long-term care for us we added an accessory loft over the garage that may someday house home care helpers.
The Efficiency Components
All lighting is LED, all appliances are “Energy Star”, HVAC is gas forced air with two furnaces at 96+% efficiency (no A/C), ceiling fans in every room, “smart” thermostat, 8 solar panels on S facing roof, recirculating pump rated at 0.5 watt for “instant” hot water (on a timer and temperature sensor to minimize power consumption). Windows are all “lowE” with interior shade system allowing viewing out while reflecting solar heating. Home insulation is a combination of batts, foam; walls R49, ceiling/roof system R54. Instead of a wood burning or gas fireplace, we chose an LED “Fire Feature” which consumes 22 watts. In consideration of the wild land fire threats of living in the mountains, all exterior surfaces are non-combustible material except for soffits and structural beams. The landscape is designed to provide defensible space for firefighters.
Our contractors were ValleyHigh Construction and RyanBuilders; both local (Heber) and in business for many years. Both groups were very supportive of our desire to be as efficient as possible both in actual construction and use of energy efficient/ renewables throughout the entire project. Most of the sub-contractors were local.
During initial construction, all of the dirt that was excavated for the crawl space was stored on site & then used for landscaping, not a single shovel of dirt was exported nor imported for the project.
Our landscaping was designed by Dana White of PC Nursery to incorporate water wise plants
& landscaping materials. We have an integrated drip system and the entire yard is finished with bark chips & a variety of rocks; there is no grass.
Since we have been in the house only 6 months, the real $ savings have not really been calculated. However, once the solar panels were activated in April, we did see our electric (Rocky Mt Power) bill decrease from $132 in Jan 16 to $31 in June 16.
Initial water costs will be high as we are watering new trees & shrubs but going forward should see a significant decrease.