HREG Meeting minutes for April 28th, 2002
Location: Greg and Kathleen Carrier's house under construction in Bellaire TX.
Attendees: Mike Ewert, Oral LaFleur, James Ferrill, Charles Mauch, David
Sawchak, Laverne Williams, Bill Derebery, John Gardner, Karen McPhail,
Robert Johnston, Mark Johnson, and our hosts Greg and Kathleen Carrier. I
hope I got all the names right :-)
Our hosts, Greg and Kathleen Carrier, are building an energy-efficient,
2-story house in Bellaire TX. Kathleen Carrier is an architect, and
designed the plans for their home. The house is mostly complete, and
sheetrock work was just beginning.
After most people had arrived, we briefly looked through the house and then
went upstairs. Greg and Kathleen gave us an overview of the energy-saving
features of the house, namely thick walls and insulation, skin venting,
passive-solar design, geothermal heating/cooling, solar domestic hot water
and pool heater, and solar power generated by solar panels. David Sawchak
with Morningstar Enterprises is the contractor for the solar energy systems
and he also gave details about the solar hot water, pool heating, and
electrical systems. We then went out into the back yard to see the solar
panels and other features on the roof.
The walls of the house are framed with 2x6, which allows more insulation in
the walls. Skin venting is a technique where an air gap is maintained from
the base of the wall all the way up to a ridge vent at the apex of the
roof. In this particular home, a layer of foil-backed plywood seals the
outside framing, with a wood strip to maintain the air gap between it and
the outside wall. Stone is used for the outside wall face, and has small
vents to allow intake air to enter at the base.
The passive solar features of the house include a south-facing roof section
with appropriate overhangs on the roof to block sun in the summer and allow
it in the winter. There are plenty of high-efficiency windows, which are
placed to allow cross-ventilation without using any power assist.
Heating and cooling are provided by heat pumps which are thermally sinked
by pipes running through a number of geothermal wells sunk in the back
yard. The heat pumps are multi-stage, with a small unit to maintain
temperature, and a larger unit to move larger quantities of heat to reach a
Hot water is provided by two panels on the roof connected to a drain-back
heating reservoir. This means that when the panels are not hot enough to
provide any heating, the water is allowed to drain back into the reservoir.
This also protects the panels from freezing in winter. An on-demand water
heater is fed with preheated water from the reservoir, leading to further
An array of black panels and plastic piping is used to provide heat for the
pool. The normal pool pump is used in this configuration, with flow being
diverted to the array for heating when needed.
Solar power is generated by an array of panels on the roof. The power is
fed from the panels to combiner boxes in the attic, where the 12 volts from
the panels are combined to make 48 volts. The power is stored in batteries
located in a small battery shed on the back of the house. On the other side
of the wall are 2 Trace inverters, which convert the battery power to
standard wall current. The inverters are connected to a subpanel which
powers critical loads only, not the entire house.
HREG would like to thank both Greg and Kathleen for their hospitality in
sharing their home. Besides the energy-saving features of their home, it is
a beautiful place and I'm sure they are both looking forward to moving in
later this year :-)
The meeting concluded around 4:15 pm.