The Home Derives All Energy from Wind, Sun and Organic Waste.
This model of sustainability is not only eco-friendly, it’s economical as well! Costa Rica’s first fully self-sufficient home, which was opened to the public on Jan. 13, 2009 at the INBiopark in Santo Domingo de Heredia, has already received over 4,000 visitors. The home is 100% self sufficient and not only employs natural energy production technology, but also is designed to minimize water usage and maximize natural sunlight.
The home is the latest Project in this environmental theme park, and was created through an alliance with the National Power and Electricity Company (CNFL). The Biological Institute (INBIO) united with CNFL with the idea to offer conventional technology systems for use in the home that are environmentally friendly.
The “Greem” home has two rooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and a living area equipped with all the normal amenities one would find in a regular house like a shower, television, radio, etc. However, the difference is that this home harvests energy from the wind, organic products and sun to generate all the power needed to function.
There are three electricity generating technologies used to run the entire household: a windmill with a vertical axis which turns wind power into electricity, solar panels that convert the sun’s energy into electricity and a “bio-digestor” which uses organic trash to create “bio-gas”. The electricity combines into batteries that can last up to two days without any incoming source of electricity. This helps for night time as well as sun-less or wind-less days or when there isn’t enough organic trash to fill up the electric compost heap.
To conserve electricity used daily to light the house, the design allows that no light needs to be turned on during the day thanks to the large windows and a mixture skylights throughout. Some of the skylights are covered with a diffusing laminate that serves to spread the light, others with insulation and a more economical set are made of plastic bottles filled with water and a bit of chlorine to spread the light.
To counteract the heat that may be generated by this technology, the home has an air extractor on the roof to keep a cool environment. When artificial light becomes necessary at night, the energy conserving fluorescent light bulbs are attached to motion sensors so that they turn off when no one is in a room.
As for water, a series of roof top rain collectors lead to a filtration system, and the water is then purified and ready to drink, wash clothes, dishes, etc. Water used for such reasons is then recycled for use in the toilet. To conserve the amount of recycled water used in the toilet, there are buttons to let you decide how much water to use when flushing. A half tank is sufficient for regular use, while you may choose the full tank for heavier “loads”.
As for the shower water (purified rain water as well), the shower head delays the flow of water, saving up to 50% more water than a conventional shower head would. The water is then heated by two solar panels. One of the home’s solar panels costs your typical market price $1,800 to $2,500 dollars, though it pays for itself after three or four years. The other one was created out of plastic bottles and is much more economical, though it is not yet available on the market.
More energy (and $$) saving tips:
- Choose home appliances that have a seal of energy saving certification
- Use motion sensors that turn off lights when you leave a room
- Install water efficient toilets that let you choose the amount of water used
- Use water collectors to recycle rain water for your washing machine or toilet
- Instead of a glass pitcher, use a metal one in your coffee machine to keep it warm after you turn it off
|Written by Claire Saylor|
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Filed under: Technology on February 4th, 2009