Layton man built his home to be an highly energy-efficient house

Aug 21, 2022, 10:55 PM | Updated: 11:18 pm

LAYTON, Utah — John Loveless doesn’t break a sweat when it’s in the triple digits. That’s because he lives in what he calls “a giant Yeti cooler,” a highly energy-efficient house that was primarily home-made by the Layton resident.

His story begins years ago when, to save money, the engineer installed a few solar cells on his home.

“Solar is the gateway drug,” Loveless jokes.

That led to adding more insulation and efficient LED lighting, a heat transfer pump to heat and cool his home, a drain heat recovery system to save the energy from the hot water that goes down the drain, and several other energy-saving measures. Loveless even transformed a gas-powered car into an electric one.

“I took that house as far as what was cost-effective and practical,” he said.

John Loveless outside of his old home in 2014.(Courtesy: John Loveless)

Loveless began thinking about building a new home, designed from the ground up, integrating those measures, and more.

Eventually, he and his wife designed their dream home, found a piece of land, and got to work.

Loveless planned to be the general contractor and do some of the work himself but hire others to build much of the house. He had worked in construction in the past.

There was a problem, though—the pandemic. Subcontractors were either not available or now beyond his budget.

Loveless was going to have to build most of the house; himself.

“I’m working full time. I’m also teaching part-time. There were a lot of cold winter nights,” he recalls. “‘What have I gotten myself into? What was I thinking?’”

Loveless did the earthmoving, footings, framing, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, tile, and paint work himself.

John Loveless framing his new home. (Courtesy: John Loveless)

“Building my own house was one of the most insane, stressful, yet rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life,” he told a TikTok audience.

Walking through the front door of the two-story home, you walk into a spacious two-story living space and onto a giant concrete pad that sits on insulating foam.

“It’s like a heat battery. So, whatever temperature the room is, that concrete will assume that temperature,” Loveless explains.

The walls are thicker and more insulated than a standard home.

“This house is basically a giant Yeti cooler,” he said. “You can turn the heat off or the air conditioning off, and it’ll keep the temperature for six hours.

The windows and eaves are positioned to provide shade in the summer and sunlight in the winter.

Inside the new energy-efficient home (Courtesy: John Loveless)

“(In the winter) It’s as if 5000 watts of heat are running. It’s like four space heaters just running for free,” Loveless said.

He installed heat pumps, devices that use the energy outdoors to heat and cool the air and heat the water.

“Solar energy just rains from the sky for free. Let’s use that to power our house. Let’s use that to power our cars,” Loveless explained.

The garage is home to three electric vehicles.

The total cost, including the land, Loveless said, was 422 thousand dollars. He figures he paid four percent more for materials than he might have spent for a standard home.

Now, their monthly bill for electricity, which powers the house and the cars, is 80 dollars a month, but, he said, it’s no longer just about money.

It’s about demonstrating to, not necessarily do-it-yourselfers but to homebuilders, that houses like this can be feasible and affordable.

“Seeing the environmental good, why not do it for the environment, too,” Loveless said. “Why can’t you have both? Why can’t you save money and save the environment out? I think taking care of the environment and being a good steward of the Earth is that’s a moral value that I hold close to me.”

Outside the finished energy-efficient home. (Courtesy: John Loveless)

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Layton man built his home to be an highly energy-efficient house