Energy Efficient Home in Woolwich, Maine
The Tipton House uses solar hot water and solar power systems to reduce fossil fuel energy use

Homeowners in Woolwich recently moved from Vermont to Maine and built their home integrating energy conservation methods to ensure long term energy savings with little dependence on fossil fuels. The Tipton family’s home was built by the Shelter Institute, also located in Woolwich.

ReVision Energy installed a combination solar system comprised of a 60 tube solar hot water array mounted on the roof and a 1.6kW solar power array mounted in an awning style on the south facing wall of the home.

The solar electric awning is strategically sized and placed to provide both active and passive solar design for this building allowing full sun exposure to the interior space in the winter months, and cool shade during the summer months.

The solar hot water system is providing this family of four with most of their domestic hot water with an additional zone provided to send any excess heat into their radiant floor heat distribution system. The heat and hot water is backed up by a Seisco Electric Boiler.

A wood cook stove provides central heating and cooking for this 1200 square foot home. Propane is only used for cooking when the fire is not burning. The Tipton’s estimate they will use on average 25 gallons of propane each year and one cord of wood to meet most of their heating and cooking needs.

Other sustainability factors that provide this home with energy efficiencies are:

  • All the wood used was provided by the Forest Stewardship Council
  • Minimal sheetrock was used
  • All the windows are wood
  • The roof is standing seam metal

The house was built small in size on purpose, so there is less house to heat.

There is one bathroom, and utilities are kept to a minimum. Ben Tipton says that “the small size of the house limited our use of natural resources, provides for a way to reconnect the family unit and greatly decreased maintenance costs.”

When asked how the system is working for him so far, Ben reports “Yesterday I was out cutting some siding; when I triggered my saw I noticed my meter stopped.  I thought it was odd, went over to check it out and noticed that the electric meter was running backward. That moment was worth every penny spent on this house. Thank you all.”

UPDATE: After a year of living in their house, the Tipton’s posted extremely low use of fossil fuels in their energy-efficient Woolwich, Maine home.