Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Local News

September 16, 2011

Solar house at Honey Creek Resort State Park an example of 'green living'

CENTERVILLE — Imagine living in a less than 600-square-foot, $350,000 "green living" solar-powered house that only uses the electricity it generates?

That's what naturalists Jacob Ahee and Hannah Wiltamuth have been doing in the Iowa State University-designed Interlock House since August at Honey Creek Resort State Park in northern Appanoose County at Rathbun Lake. The house is designed for two people.

Well, they don't actually live in the house, but they treat it like they do.

"We take showers here after kayaking or after hiking," Ahee said of the solar-powered demonstration house Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10. "We do prepare food in here. We do loads of dishes and laundry. We're supposed to treat it like we would a house that we lived in. But nobody has to stay in here overnight."

Now called the Activities Building, it produces its own electricity from solar panels fastened to the southern-facing roof. The electricity from the panels are stored in batteries for future use.

When house occupants tap into an outlet for electricity or use an appliance, it draws first from the electricity stored in the batteries. If conditions are not favorable for the solar panels to produce electricity, like a cloudy day, users might draw from the electrical grid.

Ahee said the house is designed to function independent of outside electrical sources and return to the grid more electricity than it uses.

"It's suppose to have a net zero consumption of electricity," Ahee said. "It is tied into the electrical grid. But it should produce more than it consumes every year. It should produce more input back onto the grid."

The solar panels do double-duty, Ahee said. Non-potable water circulates through the panels into pipes under the floor to produce heat during colder days.

"That's what we're hoping to keep us warm this winter," Ahee said.

Additional sources of heat during colder days are the southern-facing windows and four glass doors that open up to a specially designed area with a rock and stone floor capable of being closed off with a portable glass nano wall. Close off the area with the wall and the sun heats up the floor creating an oven effect where warm air rises up and into the living space through vents near the ceiling while vents near the floor allow cooler air to be pushed back into the enclosed space.

"In the winter, we've got this door. It's called the nano wall," Ahee said. "Basically it creates a mini green house in here."

But the furnace-less house has yet to operate during an Iowa winter. Something Ahee said should be an important benchmark.

"So actually (in the winter) it's going to be a kind of a trial by fire," Ahee said. "We're going to see. Hopefully it will work."

Devices mounted throughout the house monitor temperature changes and that information is sent to Iowa State and a firm in Colorado, Ahee said. Plus, a weather station attached to the house monitors the outside temperature.

On Sept. 10, 2011, several devices were plugged in and were using electricity. The inside air temperature was 73 degrees. No lights were on but the interior of the house was very bright.

Living green means more than not using any outside electricity. Many of the materials used in the construction of the house are recycled or environmentally-friendly.

Ahee said shredded blue jeans were used as insulation in the walls, farm-raised bamboo was used for the floors, farm-raised cedar was used for the siding outside and crushed glass and concrete were molded to make the counter tops.

Ahee said they plan to build a small wind turbine to supply electricity for the basement. At some point the basement, which was not part of the house's design, is where many naturalist activities will be held plus house a classroom.

The house has a modern kitchen with an oven, microwave, dishwasher and refrigerator/freezer. It has an appliance that both washes and dries clothes. It has a sleek-looking bathroom, a Murphy Bed in a room that is both bedroom and office with a desk, cabinets, shelves, central air conditioning and water heater.

The Interlock House was built in 2009 and participated in the Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C. It was purchased by Cargill and donated to Honey Creek Resort State Park, Ahee said. Tour the house Wednesdays and Saturdays from 3:30-4 p.m.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 041814 Miller-Meeks Photo Miller-Meeks campaigns Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, candidate for congressional Iowa District 2, promised the 10 who came to The Garage in Centerville Wednesday she would do "the full Grassley" if elected. "The full Grassley," Miller-Meeks said, is what Iowa Sen. Chuck Gr

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • A.C. history by Enfys McMurry April 18, 1942: There was a raid in the Pacific on April 18 that was morale boosting for Americans. It was four months and 10 days after Pearl Harbor. Eighty crewmen in 16 B-25s, led by Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, took off from an aircraft carrier, the

    April 18, 2014

  • New boilers cost district $380,000 The summer boiler replacement projects will be getting underway after the Centerville School Board approved a $380,801 bid from Capital City Boiler and Machine Works out of Des Moines during their April 14 meeting. Six bids were received and the boar

    April 18, 2014

  • Appanoose County History April 18, 1865: Lincoln had been shot on the evening of Friday, April 14. 1865. He died at 7:22 the next morning. The news didn't reach Centerville until the 18th. It arrived on the front pages of the Keokuk Daily Gate City and the Burlington Hawkeye

    April 18, 2014

  • A.C. history by Enfys McMurry April 17, 1925: Nellie Walker was born in Red Oak but from infancy on, Moulton was her hometown. Her father was Moulton's stone carver and monument maker. Nellie watched him work and occasionally used his tools. At 17 she made a bust of Abraham Linco

    April 17, 2014

  • 041714 Blue Out Day Photo 2 Blue Out Day in Centerville The third annual Blue Out Day in Centerville Wednesday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. was a windy, chilly two-hour event to bring child abuse prevention awareness to the community. Activities included Centerville Mayor Jan Spurgeon reading the child abuse aware

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • A.C. history by Enfys McMurry April 16, 1861: By this date the news that President Lincoln wanted volunteers to fight for the preservation of the Union was the talk of Appanoose County. Centerville's reaction to the national crisis was immediate. Flags were placed at the old log-

    April 16, 2014

  • Informational meetings Organizing for Main Street is pressing on after their Jan. 16 presentation to Main Street Iowa officials who denied their application to be a part of the Main Street Iowa program. Last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, April 8-10, for one hour each da

    April 16, 2014

  • Spawning fish for better fishing The annual spring fish netting is underway at Rathbun Lake, Spirit Lake and Guttenberg and will begin Tuesday night at Storm Lake, as the spawning season picks up steam. Staff from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources collects walleye, northern p

    April 16, 2014

  • 'Teach Children To Save' in Appanoose County Iowa Trust and Savings Bank partnered with local schools to celebrate Teach Children To Save Day with savings education on April 10 and 11. More than 185 local youths explored lessons designed to educate students on the value of saving money. Establ

    April 16, 2014

  • Supervisors dealing with vacancy

    Iowa Code states if there is a vacancy in an elected county office then there are two ways to fill the vacancy, one being that county’s board of supervisors can make an appointment, the other by special election.

    April 16, 2014 1 Story

  • Local Easter egg hunts The annual Moravia Easter egg hunt is at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 19 at City Park. The Faith United Methodist Church Easter egg hunt is at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 19 at the church on Highway 5 south. For all children in pre-k through sixth grade. If i

    April 16, 2014

  • Prison for Centerville man John Frank Thomasson, 30, of Centerville, was sentenced March 28 in the Appanoose County Courthouse to a total of six years in state prison. Thomasson was charged by Appanoose County Attorney Richard F. Scott by trial information on Oct. 29, 2013 wit

    April 15, 2014

  • A.C. history by Enyfs McMurry April 15, 1923/4: Centerville's radio station WDAX (see April 11's column) ceased operations suddenly and unexpectedly. The cause: the station, said the government, was not run by a licensed operator. It did come back onto the air, reconditioned and

    April 15, 2014

  • Healthy Appanoose: Week 14 The 14th week of the Healthy Appanoose Challenges are printed below. The free program can be joined anytime throughout the year. Log in at the Centerville-Rathbun Lake Area Chamber of Commerce at www.centerville-ia.com to record challenges completed.

    April 15, 2014

Obituaries
Featured Ads
Poll

The Iowegian wants readers to think about rental permit fees. The Centerville City Council has conducted two working sessions and a third one is planned in order to get a feel for the public's appetite about raising rental permit fees from charging a landlord $25 every two years to charging a certain amount per rental unit per year. So, the question of the week is, "Are you in favor of Centerville increasing rental permit fees?"

A. I'm in favor.
B. I'm not in favor.
C. I'm not sure.
     View Results
Iowegian on Facebook