By Jessy Yancey
Jennifer Loveday places a pot of water on her new electricity-saving induction cooktop and touches a digital pad to turn on the burner. Within seconds, the liquid starts to boil.
“This is the really cool part,” she says, placing her fingertips directly on the stove eye, near the vessel. “It will only heat the part that the pot’s on.”
The innovative appliance, which uses a magnetic field to cook much more quickly and safely than its traditional counterpart, is one of the “green” features Jennifer and her husband, Andy, added when they built their 2,400-square-foot dream home in 2011 on 21 acres of former dairy farmland at the foot of Chilhowhee Mountain in Seymour.
Married in 2009, Jennifer, 26, an eighth-grade English teacher in Sevier County, and Andy, 28, warehouse manager for Foothills Farmers Co-op in Maryville, were looking for creative ways to save on monthly household expenses.
“We wanted a home that would last, something our children could inherit and be proud of,” says Jennifer, who is expecting in July. “So we tried to think about resources that would endure, products that are going to be timeless.”
Researching the Resources
Despite the fact that they’d never even seen another eco-friendly farmhouse, the couple researched the possibilities and chose several features that fit their practical, budget-conscious goals. The home’s sage-green “siding” is actually ultra-strong fiber cement board that insulates like brick, resists fire, and won’t mold or mildew. Beneath the roof shingles, sheets of plywood covered with aluminum (known as a radiant barrier) serve as solar panels that deflect heat in summer and capture it in winter. And the 2-inch-by-6-inch exterior framing allows for extra, energy-conserving insulation. (Learn More: Find Wasted Energy in Your Own Home)
“It’s very expensive to build an eco-friendly home,” Jennifer admits. “So we had to pick and choose what we were going to do.” (Learn More: Tips for Eco-Friendly Building)
The most significant green investment, by far, is the $28,000 geothermal heating and air conditioning system, which relies on energy exchange between the air in the house and the 50-degree ground outside. (A traditional system costs $5,000-$7,000.) After much soul-searching, the Lovedays agreed the steep outlay was worth it; they get a 30 percent federal tax credit this year, are already saving about $100 a month on their electric bill, and expect to break even on the geothermal pumps within a decade.
But the best part of going green, Andy says, is “being diligent and picking out a plan that would cater to us now and 60 years down the road.”