Wednesday, March 26, 2008

RI Home Show

I had the opportunity to attend the RI Home Builders Association's home show recently. This small show featured the usual round up of home goods sellers, siding and window installers, financial services institutions, utilities (err, utility, there is only one), driveway installers, contractors, etc. Most were simply getting their name out and showing examples of their work. On the green front, I never did locate the "Green Pavilion," which would have presumably been a gathering point for various green builders and home products. This is not to say that they weren't at the show, just not clustered together.

I spoke with representatives from three companies who perform ground source heat pump installations using various techniques. Refreshingly, the first I spoke with, from DxGeothermal, was open that saving on heating costs with their system was a good investment, making sure that the home was well insulated and heat efficient was as or more important than the selection of the heating system. This company offered closed loop installations with either a vertical or horizontal installation technique based on available ground area. The product they worked with is the EarthLinked heat pump.

The second company I spoke with worked with open-loop systems, which are always a vertical installation, using a larger diameter drilled hole, but potentially less space than the closed-loop system, and relying on ground water to move the heat to and from the home. Look for an upcoming post investigating the differences and merits between the close and open loop installations. The units installed by this company are sized like air conditioners, but operate in two stages, only running at full power when heating or cooling demand requires. The blower fan runs at partial power, and in the example 3 ton unit, the unit is capable of running only half of its capacity.

The last company actually got my attention as an insulation installer, using recycled newspaper, blown into stud bays. It turned out, however, that the company was a full service construction company that also did installation of GSHP systems as well as construction. The company had acted as the insulation subcontractor in several LEED certified commercial structures around New England.

There was also the booth for one solar installer, claiming that there is indeed enough sunlight in New England to provide power to a home. They also pointed out that because of the net metering (the electric meter may run backwards) it is possible to earn a credit for generated electricity not used at the home.

One last interesting product that I saw was a house paint/stain. This product is designed to last 50 years and is applied in two stages to the home. A first layer like an adhesive is applied before the second layer of colored finish is applied. The coating contains ceramic particles which give the product its longevity and help the product to shed dirt. According to materials the installer was showing, this coating will hold up better than any other product on the market, particularly in high moisture, high salt environments such as near the plentiful shorelines of this region.