Can This Home Be Greened? A House With a View

A mountain home gets energy efficient.

| September/October 2005


Despite the nice view, these west-facing windows in Robert’s home office cause glare and afternoon overheating.

Robert and Angela Zakon’s beautiful home in Center Conway, New Hampshire, sits in the heart of the White Mountains. Built in 1989, it’s large (about 5,000 square feet, including the unfinished basement and garage), but when they bought it two years ago, they fell in love with its glorious location and committed to finding ways to make it more energy efficient and eco-friendly. So they contacted Natural Home & Garden. Both Robert and Angela work from their home in different businesses; this helps justify the house’s size and allows them to get by with just one car—which lightens their overall ecological footprint (and leaves the other two garage bays for yard and garden equipment). The Zakons have a young son, Nico, and are expecting another child.

Starting outside

Problem: Most of the Zakon’s 2.7 acres is lawn—requiring regular mowing and, if they want to keep it lush and green, periodic applications of fertilizer and perhaps other chemicals.

Solution: Natural landscaping is the way to go. Much of the lawn can be converted into naturalized woodlands by planting native trees and shrubs, mulching heavily with leaves and wood chips, and creating wildflower-lined paths. Robert might be able to save money by finding a nearby site that’s about to be developed and offering to salvage native plants.

Getting a handle on energy use

Problem: Because the Zakon’s house is big, their 195,000 BTU/hour boiler uses about 1,700 gallons of oil per year. Even though they keep the house relatively cool in winter months, their monthly electric bills average 700 kilowatt-hours.

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