Where We Live: Energy efficient living in the Lower Valley - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Where We Live: Energy efficient living in the Lower Valley

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ZILLAH, Wash. – Contractors are about a month away from completing a home in the Lower Valley that they say is using almost every energy efficient method possible in construction.

The house is part of KNDO weeklong series "Where We Live" airing each night at 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

On a sunny day, the benefits of a "Built Green" home shine through even though the house is still not finished. Solar panels installed on the property power the lights, fans, and equipment on site and even send energy back to the grid on some days.

Fred Padjen of Arbor Design Construction says it's a valuable source of energy in our area with drastic changes in the weather.

"There's very few days in the year when some kind of heating or cooling isn't necessary in the Yakima Valley," he said.

Other features include straw bale walls, the thickness prevents twice as much cold air from coming inside the home.

Ronald Brulotte is the owner of the new home Padjen is working on in Zillah. He says he's willing to wait up to ten years to see a return on his investment after paying at least 10 percent more up front.

"More construction firms are now starting to wake up to the fact that this is the way to go and the technology is there to do it and so it justifies itself in the long run," said Brulotte.

Other aspects of the home are a combination of current and new innovations. This house has a regular heating tank for water but solar panels on the roof will heat 40 percent of the water.

"Utility rates are going to continue to climb so people are going to be more concerned about energy efficiency," said Padjen. "I think across the board people will have a greater interest in it."

The roof and floors of the home also incorporate more effective methods of saving resources.

Fields around the home could potentially become vineyards. Before the owner decides if he wants to get into the wine business, he has already installed a geothermal heating system. The pipes below will combine the natural temperature of the earth below along with chemicals stored in the ground to cool and heat the home year-round.

Brulotte quickly became a fan of energy efficient technology but it was a completely new concept before he started designing his new home.

"Until a year and a half ago I didn't know what the word meant," he said. "Just in the last year and a half with this project became more aware of what it all means and all the different projects that are available to people."