Click on [ Example in Survey ] to see a house that has used one, or more, of these sustainable techniques. Please note, this example may be only one of the houses that have used a specific T&P—browse the All Houses in Survey page to find more.
General concepts:

In a sustainable house, heating and cooling systems are not "after-thoughts" that are simply purchased to fit the owners needs, rather they are integral to the design. Simply orienting the house so that windows are placed on the south side, and building in a heat sink e.g., cement floor, or masonry wall (Trombe wall) within the house to collect and store the heat from the sun (passive solar heating), can decrease significantly the amount of supplemental heating a house needs. The key here is to work the house into the site in a way that uses the free, nonpolluting, solar energy, rather than orienting the house in a capricious manner. This doesn't mean you have to ignore beautiful views from within the house, just keep in mind that a house has many functions, and they all need to be considered. Insulate far beyond code, some people forget that insulation will help keep you cooler in summer, as well as warmer in winter. Minimize west windows, which cause overheating in summer. Design the house with the proper eave overhang to minimize excessive summer heating and protect the building walls from the weather. Consider window shading, and install high performance windows for comfort and efficiency.
Geothermal Heating/Cooling:

Using the constant temperature of the earth to supplement your heating needs is one possibility. In this area, the earth at a depth greater than 4–6 Ft., has a temperature of ca. 55˚F. This can be used for heating with a heat-pump system(compressor/refrigerant based). These systems can be expensive, but amortized over several years they can save you a lot of money.

Annualized Geothermal, also known as Passive Annual Heat Storage (PAHS) is another approach. It does not require a compressor. Typically, insulation is extended outward below ground 10-20' from the house; passive solar heating (south facing windows) within the house heats a (heat storing and conducting) floor e.g., cement. The floor conducts heat to the soil beneath it and under the insulated soil around the house. Because the soil is protected by the insulation, it stores the heat creating an enormous thermal mass, and releases it back up to the house when the floor temperature is less than its temperature. It can take several years for soil to reach a temperature great enough to produce significant heating, but once it does, the house can be heated with very little additional energy. There are numerous variations on the PAHS concept.
Radiant (hydronic) heating systems:

This type of system uses hot water (and various other solutions) running through tubing, typically PEX (a plastic), in the floor to heat the house. The system is quite efficient and doesn't create the blowing currents of dust-carrying warm air; objects in contact with floor will become warm through conduction and act as radiators. Water in the tubes is heated by various types of hot water heaters. Some systems allow for preheating of water by passive solar means. Radiant systems produce a gentle, relaxing heat.
Masonry stoves (aka, "Russian fireplaces"):

Unlike steel or iron stoves, masonry stoves are made of brick and/or stone and thus have a large thermal mass. A small hot fire heats the mass, both directly by its flame, and by the hot exhaust gases which follow a circuitous path up the flue. As the fire burns, and after it dies out, the masonry radiates the heat back into the room. The stoves usually burn very efficiently, and produce less smoke than conventional stoves, but air pollution should be considered. Another factor to consider is whether the wood you burn is sustainably harvested.
Indoor air quality (IAQ):

IAQ is an important consideration in a tightly sealed house. Indoor air, especially in winter, is often more polluted than outdoor air. But opening a window can cause significant heat loss. Air exchange systems remove some heat from the outgoing stale air and use existing heat to preheat fresh incoming air. Whole house ventilation systems (passive or active) should be part of designing a healthful house, and part of the design process should be to use materials and finishes that produce little to no toxic/unhealthy fumes
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