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Man builds exceptionally energy-efficient house

Thu, 01/17/2013 - 10:07

Dennis Kaech has always had a fascination with green building. The retired high school science teacher finds calculating how much energy he can save in any given day a fun activity.

The News Tribune reports that Kaech took his interest to the next level by constructing his Olympia, Washington, home with the latest in energy-saving technology. Kaech spent $350,000 on a house, but this property isn't a luxury home. Kaech claims that all the money he invested in the project is in the walls, floors and ceilings of the house.

"I wanted to see how many crazy things you could put in a house," Kaech said on a recent winter day in his light-filled home on the city's west side.

These "crazy" things are solar panels, heat-holding rocks that absorb excess warmth and research heat as the house cools, foam insulation to give the walls a combined R-value of 31 (much higher than the 20 required by modern building codes) and radiant floor heating.

The floor heating system allows the house to remain at a comfortable temperature, while using significantly less energy to run the utility. The News Tribune reports that the two-inch thick concrete floors are an effective flooring material when combined with radiant floor heating. The heating solution is hooked up to a geothermal heating system to warm the necessary water that travels throughout pipes underneath the floor.

According to the news source the water is domestically supplied to further reduce the carbon footprint associated with running the system. The system is designed as a closed loop to further promote energy savings and absorb heat from the ground, which is littered with the heat-absorbtion rocks.