Energy efficiency from the ground up (LONG)
I'm hoping to build a house in the next year or so. This will be my 'forever' house that I will live in until I die or am sent off to a nursing home. I'm in North Florida in an area that has both hot summers (often humid) and cold (for Florida) winters that can be dry OR humid.
So I want to build in energy efficiency from the beginning. Passive solar is one thing that could be a problem. The site is on a north-south ridge and faces east. There is plenty of sunshine from the south, but the main view is to the east and we cannot put the long axis of the house any way but north-south.
I am changing the design to put main rooms on the south side to take advantage of the light. The other rooms will basically extend all the way through the house so they have east and west facing windows and can take advantage of prevailing breezes in spring and fall when the weather allows.
I plan porches along most of the east and south sides, with a smaller porch on the west. We have good shade from trees on the west, southeast and east sides. The major use for the east facing posrch will be for screened porches and maybe eventually a sun room.
I am planning a solar water heating system, but want to consider geothermal for heat and AC. Currently, we have an electric heat pump for both - how would the efficiency of geothermal compare? Is geo effective for AC this far south? Apparently ground temps are between 65-72 F around here. How do you deal with de-humifying with geothermal?
With 60 acres, we've got the space for geothermal - it's whether or not it would pay for itself in the long run.
DH wants radiate floor heating - could that be combined with solar water heating to make it cost effective? Maybe just for limited areas of the house, such as bathrooms?
I'm also considering photovoltaic - with the orientation of the house, if I want that, I would have to change the south facing roof to a hipped rather than a gable. It would cost slightly more and reduce attic/second story space. From what I read, I suspect PV is not cost effective right now, but if I want to add it later, I'd like to plan on it.
PV *could* offset other costs, such as an emergency generator. We are in Hurricane Territory here and even if we don't get hit directly, we get the squall bands that can knock out our power for a day or two. But I've lived without an emergency generator for many decades, so emergency power is not super high on my list of 'must-haves'.
Here is what I will NOT have - any kind of of energy that requires a flame. No propane, natural gas, wood, etc. My house will be all-electric, one way or another.
Any suggestions, ideas, places to go for more info?