Near Zero Energy Solar Upgrade of a New Mexico Home

Greg supplies the details below on the deep energy remodel of his New Mexico home. 

He used a well thought out combination of insulation upgrades and a solar space and water heating system to cut his space and water heating energy use of his all electric home to nearly zero. 

This project shows that you can live within the limitations of an existing home and still make dramatic reductions in energy use within a reasonable budget.

Greg did most of the work himself, and goes through the details of planning and installing the upgrades. 

Thanks very much to Greg for taking the time to document and send in the project!


Greg used a balanced approach consisting upgrades to the home's thermal envelope to reduce heat loss, and then the addition of a solar heating system sized to meet the remaining heat loss.

The thermal envelope upgrades consisted primarily of adding external foamed in place insulation, adding attic insulation, and  thermal window treatments.  These upgrades reduced the home heat loss to the point where a reasonable size solar heating system could heat the house.

The solar heating system consists of four large ground mounted solar water heating collectors.  The solar collectors provide heat to to a large and very well insulated fiberglass tank that is sized to store heat over cloudy periods.  Both the collectors and tank have been carefully added in such a way as to preserve the good looks of the home.

A hydronic heat distribution system was added to distribute the stored solar heat to the home as required.  The hydronic systems replaces the electric baseboard units that came with the all electric house.

With the insulation and solar heating upgrades, the home is now totally self sufficient on space heating and water heating energy use.

Greg plans to add a PV array on the roof to meet the remaining small electrical demand.  When the PV array is completed, the house will be a net zero energy home.  Net zero energy use is very difficult to achieve even for new construction homes, so it says a lot about Greg's design that he was able to achieve this zero energy use on a remodel and within a reasonable budget.

All the details on Greg's deep energy retrofit here...  (pdf)

Solar heat storage tank
The foam insulated 2000 gallon solar
heat storage tank.

Ground mounted 4 by 12 ft solar water
heating collectors.
solar untility room plumbing
The solar utility room

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