One of the group’s more complex energy raisers took place at the home of Kevin Frank and Caryn McHose in Holderness, New Hampshire. Increasing propane costs motivated the couple to integrate solar thermal into the existing radiant floor heating in their 2,000-square-foot house and the 1,700-square-foot adjacent studio, which houses the couple’s body-movement and therapy practices.
Frank turned to PAREI for guidance and supplies. Even though he did not have any previous experience with solar hot water, he was well versed in energy-efficiency techniques from his years as a professional builder and felt confident that he could complete the first phase of the project on his own. And, since there were no rebates available through the local utility at the time, working with a licensed installer—a requirement to receive most rebates—was not necessary.
In addition to adding a wood-fired boiler to the heating system, he installed three Sun-Earth flat-plate solar thermal collectors on the house’s roof. Hot water from the collectors is routed into a concrete storage tank in the basement. Laying the groundwork for the second phase, Frank also constructed a concrete storage tank in the studio basement and laid the underground, insulated PEX loop between the two buildings. The two original propane backup boilers were kept to provide supplemental heating, if needed.
For the next phase, Frank called on PAREI and signed on for an energy raiser. Three, 30-tube Apricus collectors were installed on the studio roof, piped to heat exchangers and pumps in the basement storage tank for domestic water and space heating. Prior to the day, Frank and a few other members installed the heat exchangers in the tank and plumbed to the tank. They also installed some staging on the roof and built a mount from pressure-treated lumber for the Apricus. The rest—installing the collectors and rack, finishing the plumbing, and configuring the controls for the system—was tackled by a 25-person crew that turned out for the day.
Frank estimates that the first phase—including the tanks’ construction, wood boiler assembly, trenching, and Sun-Earth system—came to more than $17,000 after the federal tax credit. Thanks to the discounts and free labor through PAREI, the cost of the second phase was considerably less. The Apricus system for the studio totaled $3,909 after state and federal rebates.
Frank says the time, energy, and investment was well worthwhile, and credits PAREI for empowering him to tackle the project. Today, the couple’s propane dependency is down from 800-plus gallons to roughly 50 gallons per year—most of which is used for cooking, clothes drying, and some intermittent space heating in the studio’s second floor, which is not equipped with radiant floor heating. During cloudy spells, Frank stokes the fire in the wood boiler as his first line of defense and, only when necessary, kicks on the two original propane-powered water heaters for backup.
“PAREI changed the way we use energy, and the group is truly revolutionizing this little part of the granite state,” Frank says. “Knowing that wood and solar are the primary sources for both the space heating and domestic hot water makes it easier for me to turn up the heat, and make our clients and family more comfortable.”