October 2, 2010

Derry couple keen to show how they've gone green


Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Tom and Hope Minnon are opening their home this weekend to anyone interested in knowing more about how to live a greener life right in their own backyard.
A Green House Tour is scheduled today between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Minnon's renovated home at 9 Datillo Road.
When they purchased their home 10 years ago it had typical issues associated with an older home, and was in need of repairs and upgrades. Minnon, who chairs the town's Energy and Efficiency Committee, said the point of the tour is to show people what they can do to live greener and save money in the long run – from lightbulbs to geothermal heating and cooling systems.
The 2,400-square-foot Gambrel-style home features cedar siding culled from a sustainable forest, roofing made from recycled rubber and plastic, a 2-kilowatt solar panel, and bamboo interior flooring. The Minnons have a kitchen recycling center set up that includes composting of kitchen waste, and landscaping featuring indigenous flowers, bushes and trees, a vegetable garden and rain barrels. Ask Minnon about his Neuton battery powered lawn mower.
“It all depends to what extent you want to go as a homeowner,” said Minnon. “We started out with our house just thinking about what we could do from a sustainability standpoint that made sense. My best advice for others is that you don't have to follow the status quo. Your siding doesn't have to look like everyone else's. Do your homework. You may not find everything you need at your local hardware or lumber store, but there are lots of magazines and Internet sites now where you can see what's out there.”
He's done the math and calculated the return on investment for his efforts – for example, he's saving about $600 a year in electricity with his solar panel and energy efficient light bulbs.
“The net cost for installing the solar panel was about $2,400, so it will be a four-year return on investment,” said Minnon. “Any good investment should pay back in 10 years or so, so that's really a great savings.”
His geothermal heating and cooling system may take a bit longer to reap financial rewards, but that was a decision based on more than saving money.
“Electricity is home grown, whether we get it from power plants across the country – I'm making some right at home with the solar panel. Anyway, I'm looking at it from the standpoint that oil comes from who knows where, and in the long run, for me and for the next person who owns my home, it made a lot of sense to convert to an energy form that's more local.”
Even those who rent can try composting, a simple process of recycling kitchen waste.
“We turn ours into nice, rich, dark loam for our plants – even if you live in an apartment, your house plants will thank you for composting some nutrient rich soil,” Minnon said.
Lunch will be served between 11:30 and 1 p.m.
The Minnon home is located off Route 28 Bypass in Derry. For more information, contact Minnon at tminnon@comcast.net

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