The Solar Home Tour is happening this weekend. Bob and I were able to squeeze in a tour of one home in Vienna, and it was so impressive!
This home was on the solar tour because it has solar panels on its metal roof – but they were not the typical type of panels we have seen before. They were like rugs you roll out. It only works on a metal roof which has a smooth surface, in order for this type of panel to adhere properly.
The home is heated by radiant floor heating. This is a series of rubber tubes embedded in concrete, and there is some kind of liquid in the tubes that is heated externally. This homeowner heats their system with propane.
The homeowner keeps a lot of the tubing and other electronics needed for their green systems in this really creative closet. It has a roll-out mudroom structure where they store bags, coats etc. Here’s a photo of the homeowner with the rollout system in front of their closet.
This home does not have a battery system, so they don’t store the energy they produce with their solar panels. They just send it back to the grid. It effectively makes their meter roll backwards. They almost never produce more than they use, so they don’t get paid for their energy. But they said their electricity bill is typically $20-30 per month.
This home was built in two phases. The part that you see in the photo at the top of this blog was the first part. It was built in a green way. Then a few years later, they added an extension that was almost as big as the original house. It’s at an angle from the original house so you don’t see it as much from the street.
For the extension, the homeowners asked their architect to design based on Frank Lloyd Wright’s home in the Oak Park area. They even went to visit the home. In particular, they loved the playroom, so they asked their architect to design a room inspired by that space. It’s the center of their family activity.
There is a staircase in the playroom space that goes up to the roof where there is a green roof – and you know I have a soft spot for green roof gardens since making my green roof Halloween costume and visiting the amazing green roof at PS41 in New York City.
The house has magical and surprise elements as well – perhaps not so much related to green lifestyles but really lovely artistry. One is this window in the master bedroom which is also inspired by a Frank Lloyd Wright window design. His design is a series of octagons. This one is a series of squares, and the plaster work that causes the square to curve is really astounding. There is a green aspect to having a window in the ceiling, which is to provide natural light.
In the children’s room, there is a bookshelf that opens to become a door. Wow. What a treasure.
We were so glad to experience their home! What a fun place that inspires creative project ideas!