Chris Howell, NewsOn6.com
TULSA, OK -- When Frank Palmieri and Elizabeth Geer decided to build their dream home, they knew it was going to be energy efficient.
The insulated concrete block construction method they used initially alarmed the neighbors, but once the home was completed it fit right into the upscale Tulsa neighborhood.
And after living in the home for a year they say they have realized huge energy savings.
"Mostly due to the probably R-50 walls that we have," explained Frank. "Iit's 2 ½ inches foam on the inside, 2 ½ inches foam on the outside and 6 inches of re-enforced concrete in the middle, so you essentially have a 12-inch-thick wall."
The inner layer of concrete also makes the home incredibly sturdy.
"325 miles-per-hour winds it can withstand, so the entire house is essentially a storm shelter," said Frank.
High-efficiency windows and foam insulation in the garage lessen the energy demands even further, as does a maniblock water distribution system which sends hot water only to where it's needed.
"So you save a lot of water circulating through the house and wasting cold water until you get to the hot water," Frank said.
A geothermal heat pump uses tubes sunk deep into the earth to heat and cool the home.
Dual-flush toilets, ten-foot ceilings and efficient appliances helped Frank and Elizabeth realize a huge savings compared to their old wood frame home.
"We're using 40% less energy for a house that's 70% larger. The cooling season should be even more dramatic as we've seen we haven't even turned the air conditioning on and we're already almost in the middle of June," said Frank.
"I enjoy this so much, it's very comfortable as far as the temperature," adds Elizabeth. "We wanted to teach our children, our grandchildren and our friends that this is something that we can accomplish and still have a very nice home.'