To John Simonds, combining the energy of the sun with the heat of the Earth has made for the perfect system to power his 2,800-square foot home, according to The Day.
"These two are like peanut butter and chocolate. They go together well," said Simonds, referring to the solar panels on a hillside above his driveway that generate electricity, and the geothermal energy system that taps the ambient heat of the Earth through wells in the side yard connected to a basement system in his Voluntown, Conn. home.
Simonds and his wife decided in 2009 to build a new energy-efficient home on a 60-acre former farm property. They spent $120 to $130 per square foot to build the home, and their monthly energy bills now total $142.38, which is their lease payment for the two solar energy panels.
"That's our heating bill, our summer cooling bill, our electricity, our hot water - everything," he said. "We don't have an oil tank, we don't have a gas furnace. We don't have an electric bill."
Because of their success at creating an affordable and energy efficient home, the Simonds were recently named the statewide winners of the Connecticut Zero Energy Challenge.
The annual contest, sponsored by the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund, Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating, awards $10,000 to the owners of the home built with the best overall energy efficiency, design, use of natural materials and renewable energy. Along with the solar panels and geothermal energy system, the Simonds' home also incorporates energy-efficient appliances, lighting and insulation, among other features. The home stood out both for its energy performance as well as for its practicality and affordability.
"We're not rich people," Simonds said, adding that the costs of the energy systems were offset by rebates and tax credits. "I'm a stonemason by trade and my wife is a registered nurse. If we can do it, anyone can do it."
Read more about geothermal.