Hopi Nation Straw Bale Home Innovations: Efficient Building Envelope & Radiant Floor Heat - Homes Across America Search Return

Hopi Nation Straw Bale Home




Goals of Innovation:
To heat the home efficiently and affordably in a cold climate using a domestic hot water heater.

To reduce heating costs for low-income family.

Description: A frost-protected foundation is a great, green choice in light of budget and environmental concerns. Rather than building concrete footings down to frost line, an insulation skirt allows for a thickened-edge slab and far less invasive excavation. Tree roots and topsoil are less disturbed and, when fly ash is added in the concrete mixture, a low-cost, low-impact foundation results.

The radiant system starts with the installation of tubing loops that are encapsulated in the concrete pour and stubbed out to the domestic hot water heater location. After interior walls are framed the system is completed with the addition of a thermostat, a relay, and a pump.

Obstacles: The system is simple: a common hot water heater produces domestic hot water and also sends heated water to the radiant floor when occupants need warmth. To achieve this low-maintenance, high-functioning system design, however, Red Feather is thankful to Art Fust of Energy A.D. for the elegant simplicity of his radiant system design.

Cost Information: The cost savings gained by less excavation and concrete material are fairly straightforward and vary with site and location, the following is a brief account of the cost of the radiant system described:

Installation cost: Red Feather is able to obtain cost reductions in design, materials, and especially installation by bringing pro-bono services and volunteer labor to drive down costs. Yet even in the mainstream, a radiant system can be installed for about $1,500 to $1,800 in a modest sized home of about 1,200 square feet.

Long-term cost: As a rule of thumb, a radiant heating system provides a 15%-25% lower operating cost than a warm air system. A furnace and ductwork would also cost almost twice as much to purchase and install (probably about $2,500 to $3,000 for the example above).

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