GO Logic house expected to have no heating bills

Posted April 08, 2010, at 11:08 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — For Maine, it has been a remarkably mild winter and spring. But the majority of Mainers still had to use oil, wood, natural gas or electricity to heat their homes.

A Belfast design and contracting team now putting the finishing touches on the state’s first Passive House Certified home, the GO Home, say that it’s so energy-efficient that it will have no heating or hot water bills for the next 25 years.

According to architect Matthew O’Malia and green-home builder Alan Gibson, GO Logic collaborators, the Crocker Road house requires the amount of heat produced by a hairdryer to stay warm in the coldest nights of winter.

“It’s a radical departure of resources,” O’Malia said Thursday night after a discussion of the GO Home at the Belfast Free Library. “You almost pay for the whole home in energy savings.”

Instead of a furnace and an oil tank, the two-story, 1,500-square-foot house will use triple-glazed windows, superinsulation and a heat-recovery ventilation system tucked into the attic to keep heat in while making sure that the home can breathe. Rooftop solar panels supply enough energy to offset that hairdryer’s worth of heat, and the house is expected to easily reach LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

It is designed to be a comfortable 68 degrees all year round, and is a model home for the Belfast Cohousing and Ecovillage project.

“It’s possible to do, it’s cost-effective to do, and it will save you a ton of money,” O’Malia said.

The team built the simple, wood-framed house — and its banks of windows — for about $150 a square foot, they said. Although modular homes can be built for less, about $110-$120 per square foot, the GO Home is expected to save approximately $2,000 in heating costs every year. It likely would be priced at about $225,000.

The two kept busy at Thursday’s discussion answering many technical questions thrown at them by audience members.

Some wanted to know more about the windows, which the team said were imported from Germany and are so efficient that a person sitting in front of them in the dead of winter would never be chilly or notice a draft.

Others were curious about the heat recovery system, where the incoming fresh air is warmed by outgoing exhaust air. A small fan moves the air around.

They emphasized that doing careful modeling is key to this kind of super-efficient construction, which also features a bank of fixed windows on the southern side, concrete floors and roof insulation made of cellulose from ground-up newspapers.

“Critical attention was paid to air sealing,” Gibson said.

He acknowledged that this type of construction has been done before.

“Houses like this were pioneered in the ’70s. I think we had collective amnesia for a long time that we had an energy problem,” Gibson said.

According to O’Malia, a lot more homes will share characteristics with the GO Home in the future.

“This is the 2030 standard,” he said.

There will be a preview tour of the GO Home at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 10, at 83 Crocker Road.

For information, visit the Web site www.gologichomes.com.

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