Heating is a huge expense for many households. It also accounts for about 56% of the energy used in a home. That's why many people are looking to Mother Nature for help.
"There are so many things that are free. The wind, the sun and geothermal, I said it would just be great to combine all that," so, he did.
Dave Fulmer has built a home that's powered by the sun, the wind, and the earth. "There are no fossil fuels in it. No wood, no propane, no coal, no gas, because I'm going to make my own electricity to heat and cool the house and maintain the house," says Fulmer.
The earth surrounding his home will trap heat in the winter. In summer it will keep the house cool. Solar panels bring in more energy.
Fulmer certainly represents one end of the spectrum.
Of course there are meaningful things you can do without building a brand new green home. You could start by performing an energy audit. Drafts and leaks can waste vast amounts of energy and they're not just around windows and doors. They can be found around electrical outlets and switchplates, fireplaces, and attic doors.
Just by eliminating drafts many people can reduce their energy use by up to 30 percent. It's also important to make sure your insulation levels are up to today's standards. Regularly inspecting your furnace is also a good idea. Of course there are big-time projects that can have even more impact. Bill VanHee has been selling geothermal heating systems for 30 years. "The last two years we have seen a huge increase in interest. We've gone from 12-15 units a year. To we're probably going to be doing 35-40 units a year."
Homeowner Alan Sleeman says it's good for the environment and his wallet. "I found that even though it costs more initially, it would pay back in about 5 years time."
Converting one million homes to geo-exchange heating would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 9 billion pounds.