When Katherine and Shahid Haque-Hausrath bought their home in South-Central Helena, one of their first tasks was to replace the antiquated, unsafe heating system. After considering their options they decided to install a ground-source heat pump.
Ground-source heat pumps take advantage of the fact that the earth, just a few feet down, maintains a much more constant temperature year-round than the air. By using the ground as a heat source in winter and a heat sink in summer, ground-source heat pumps can heat and cool a home quite efficiently. The Haque-Hausraths liked the idea of reducing their heating bills as well as their environmental footprint, and the decision also made sense financially: after tax credits, the ground-source heat pump cost only a little more than a new conventional heating system. The Haque-Hausraths used a low-interest loan from the state’s Alternative Energy Revolving Loan Program to finance the ground-source heat pump, which was installed in 2009 by Superior Heating of Helena.
Ground-source heat pumps use electricity, and the Haque-Hausraths next began considering ways to reduce their electric bills while further reducing their environmental footprint. In 2015 they approached Solar Montana about a solar electric system. According to Jackson Isbell, owner of Solar Montana, “After initial consultation it became clear that the roof space was not of adequate size for the amount of solar modules needed.” A ground-mounted or pole-mounted solar array in the yard would allow for a larger system, but the Haque-Hausraths are parents of young children and were hesitant to sacrifice a lot of yard space.
Solar Montana suggested a solar pavilion: a shade structure in the yard that would provide a gathering place for barbecues and outdoor dining while supporting solar panels on its roof. The Haque-Hausraths loved the idea. Ultimately, Solar Montana designed and built the pavilion – which features lighting, an electrical outlet, and 7.4 kilowatts of solar panels – and also installed 4.1 kilowatts of solar on the roof of the home.
The installation was completed in November 2015, and the Haque-Hausrath family is looking forward to enjoying the pavilion – and their reduced electric bills – this summer. According to Katherine, “We’re really excited about being able to offset our greenhouse gases and do our part to reduce climate change. [The solar pavilion is] really attractive, and it’s a great way to install solar panels if there isn’t a lot of room on the roof.”