House & Home: Creating a net-zero way of life in Dublin

  • L.P. and Jenn Runyon's Dublin home. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • L.P. and Jenn Runyon's Dublin home. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • L.P. and Jenn Runyon's Dublin home. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • L.P. and Jenn Runyon's Dublin home. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • L.P. and Jenn Runyon's Dublin home. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • L.P. and Jenn Runyon's Dublin home. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • L.P. and Jenn Runyon's Dublin home. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • L.P. and Jenn Runyon's Dublin home. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • L.P. and Jenn Runyon's Dublin home. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/21/2021 5:21:07 PM

Jenn and L.P. Runyon loved many things about their historic Peterborough home, built in the 1750s. But the one thing the Runyons did not was how inefficient it was.

“It was pretty much one of the oldest houses in town,” Jenn Runyon said.

An energy audit proved just how incapable the 250-plus-year-old home was in providing any sort of efficiency.

“It was the worst numbers (the auditor) had ever seen,” Runyon said of the blower door test. “And there was nothing we could do. It was just too old.”

After 15 years in the home, the Runyons were ready for a change of scenery. They wanted a view and a lot that either was ready to build on or had an old house that could be torn down. And, it had to be more efficient with the ability to have a solar array.

For 10 years, they searched the Monadnock Region and finally found a piece of property in Dublin. It was an empty lot that wasn’t even officially on the market.

“We just knew someone who knew someone who was selling it,” Runyon said.

It had all the characteristics they were looking for – it just needed a home. It took several years to get the design ready – with LP setting up the floor plan – map out how to best make it as efficient as possible and go through the construction phase. By August 2019, the Runyons new efficient dream home was complete.

“I was always big into nature and preserving the environment and not disturbing the environment,” Runyon said. “So if we were going to build something it had to be how I believe people should be building.” As the editor of Renewable Energy World, Runyon has learned a lot about the technologies and research behind what can make a property a shining example of efficiency.

Last week, 52 solar panels were installed by ReVision Energy on the home’s roof in what Runyon says will bring them as close to net-zero as possible. Runyon said they wanted to add panels right away, but the cost of construction made it so they had to save for a few years.

“When we built the home, I thought we were going to have solar in a field,” Runyon said. But upon closer inspection, roof panels would produce just as much energy. And it is projected to be enough to cancel out what they use.

“Every month they will send us a bill and hopefully it’s a zero,” Runyon said.

They opted not to install battery storage so everything they produce goes back into the grid and their monthly bill is calculated through net-metering.

“The hope is on an annual basis we’ll break even,” she said.

The design was always intended to be a single level on a concrete slab. Unfortunately, the slope of the land meant they would need to add a below ground level, which is home to a garage and a workout studio.

But they did stick to the one floor above grade and it consists of a large open concept room that houses the kitchen, living room and dining room, which Runyon said has a lot of circulation and air movement. Just outside the spacious living area is a large deck.

There are four bedrooms, one of which is used as an office and another for a guest room. The main bedroom has a full bath, while the remainder of the home includes another full bath and a half bath.

The home is Energy Star certified by the state, Runyon said, receiving an A-plus in their final blower door test and that was the plan all along. The walls and roof have blown in foam insulation and electric mini-splits cool and heat the home. Due to the design, three of the four mini-splits are hidden in the ceiling. They have a woodstove that aids in heating the home in the winter because “we also believe in bio energy,” Runyon said.

There’s an on-demand tankless propane hot water heater, while the propane is also used for cooking. The house has no furnace.

There are big windows that capture the views, while also letting in a lot of sunshine.

One side of the house outside is made of galvanized steel. Runyon said they first saw the concept at Dublin School and since LP works with metal in his art, it was the perfect way to represent his passion. Runyon said it’s funky, but at the same time perfect.

The house, built by Josh Kennedy Custom Builder, sits on a four-acre lot on a quiet cul-de-sac. It was exactly what the Runyons wanted from the moment they saw the land.

At that point it was just a vision, but now with the addition of the solar panels, the process is complete. And they can sit back and not worry about invisible dollars flying out the door.




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