Green living: A $40,000 investment in sustainable design pays off in seven years at Big Thunder
Seven years after moving in, they figure the $40,000 they invested in sustainable architecture and solar energy has finally been recouped in the savings they've had in heating, cooling, and powering their two-story, 3,200-square-foot home outside Reno, Nev.
"People see this," Mr. Sagebiel says of the desert-hued exposed-timber-frame "Big Thunder," "and say that must have cost you a fortune."
"Are you kidding me?" he laughs. "This is making me a fortune! It's expensive only if you look at the day you install it. It's just a matter of how you do the math."
Sagebiel is an environmental chemist who studies air pollution, and his wife, Ms. Cablk, is a wildlife ecologist specializing in desert tortoises. Both work at the University of Nevada's Desert Research Institute in Reno. So when they set out to build their house on a stretch of beautiful high desert, there was no question it would rely on clean power and sustainable architecture.