BRIGHT-MINDED HOME – JULY 2013
BRIGHT-MINDED HOME – July 2013
By Melissa Coleman
Q+A with Peter Maher about his Yarmouth solar and geothermal home
Peter Maher, an engineer and principal at Sevee and Maher Engineers, was renovating a home with Slocum Custom Builders in 2009 when he decided to attend a geothermal conference. With the help of friends, he then laid the pipes for his own geothermal heating and cooling system. The heat pumps pull warmth from the earth’s crust in winter and return the heat in summer, and the 8.8-kilowatt solar array installed by ReVision Energy grabs energy from the sun—and the Mahers enjoy the benefits.
Q:Was the geothermal difficult or expensive to install?
A: It took about a week to lay the 6,400 feet of pipe at a depth of 8 feet. Gagnon Heating and Air Conditioning connected the pipes to two ground-source heat pumps and the radiant floor heating. The system cost about $3,000 to $4,000 more than a conventional furnace, but with no annual fuel bills, so it paid for itself in less than two years.
Q: Have the systems performed well?
A: Yes. Total energy costs for the 4,500-square-foot house are only about $1,500 a year. That’s propane for on-demand hot water and the gas range in the kitchen, as well as electricity not covered by the PV [photovoltaics].
Q: Anything you’d do differently?
A: The cost of solar has dropped 22 percent a year since 2008, which makes me think we should have waited, but I guess enough people had to pay the higher prices for them to come down.
A: We have room on the roof, so we’ll see what prices do in the next few years and add enough solar panels to get the house to net zero.