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New home heating/cooling help

We are planning to build a new home in the hills of north- western Virginia. We would like a two story colonial but for budget reasons, it seems that a raised ranch with full basement is less costly to build. This will be a fairly large home for six home scholed young children (and counting), their parents and two grand parents. The main house would be ~2000 sq. ft. plus full basement and the grand parents will be ~600 also with full basement separated by a 3 car garage.

Working within a max budget of $650,000 excluding land, I am looking for an optimal balance between initial and long term costs. I was thinking very good insulation and radiant heat in basement floor and the ductless multi-zone units, such mitsubishi's for cooling and additional heat when required.

I was thinking about using the ridged foam concrete for forming the basement walls though I am unsure how to finish either inside or outside. Does using that same system for the first floor walls make sense?

Though we haven't yet purchased the land, the area around Front Royal doesn't have natural gas available so we are considering wood pellets or coal to supplement propane or fuel oil. Obviously fuel costs are an important longer term consideration so getting the decisions right up front are very important.

Please let me know what you think. Thanks

Re: New home heating/cooling help

You are an ideal candidate for a geothermal system. They are expensive, but their operating costs are a fraction of any other system. You have to buy some system anyway so you are only paying the difference between the geothermal and any other system. You could supplement the heat with wood, coal or corn cobs, but I would suggest that you get a propane powered backup generator that can power the geothermal heat pump along with the rest of the house before spending money on any other supplemental heating system.

Re: New home heating/cooling help

I would also agree what Keith said about geothermal; it's my understanding that geothermal is based on the idea that the outside temperature several feet below the surface is at a constant 50 degrees year round, so it's tailor-made for an efficient extraction of heat from this natural source.

There are outfits that specialize in this type of heating in your state & offer on-site visits to "demonstration homes" so you can obtain more info before making a final decision; the tax-write-offs for installing an energy-efficient system also apply here.

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