Charles Barr Residence
Continued

This system circulates a special oil between roof-mounted collectors, and an insulated concrete tank in the basement where the sun-heated oil warms water. A heat exchanger transfers the water's warmth to the home's heating system. (Incoming water also is preheated before reaching the hot water heater.)  Only a few parts of the system were designed specifically for solar heating; the other parts are widely available.  Carpenters built the collectors; the storage tank was built by the foundation crew: plumbers hooked everything up.

Charles Barr house
Picture by: Jesse Walker

By acting as his own contractor, the owner didn't pay a contractor's markup on the parts. The total cost of the system, materials, and labor, was $7,500. Federal tax credits, due to expire this year, reduced the net cost to about $5,500. Finally, because of the home's efficiency, a local lender was willing to discount the mortgage three-quarters of 1 percent.  The owner pays an extra $10 per month on his mortgage for the system and is saving about $200 per year in utility bills.

Inside the house there is no hint of the solar system. From its simple, pleasant entry foyer, to its open living/dining area, this is a comfortable, easy-to-like home.  Soaring to the roof peak, the ceiling in the living/dining area makes a big impression, as does the fireplace in the dining area.

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