Amy Bunting Home

Amy Bunting with her Prius

This is a great home to visit to get a first general overview of what a solar home can do. Amy Bunting's solar home features passive design, solar hot water, off-grid solar electricity, energy efficient appliances, and landscaping that incorporates permaculture principles. Amy also drives a highly fuel-efficient Toyota Prius hybrid automobile.

Passive Design:

Designed by Greg Madeen, built in 1994. Walls are made with pumicecrete, which is highly insulating, has very low air leakage, and is somewhat massive thermally. Some interior walls are plastered adobe (for mass). Notice the aspect ratio of the home: Long on its east-west axis, for southern solar gain without too much depth. The dark brick floors provide ideal thermal mass. The attached sunspace on the back with manually operable doors also helps heat and insulate the home. Note the clerestory windows (mounted in the roof). These windows allow light to shine on the darkened plastered adobe walls to provide additional solar gain and daylighting. Amy's home does not make use of overhangs, despite its large solar gain. This home is therefore on the sunny side, which Amy personally prefers. Honeycomb thermal shades are used for night and summer insulation. Amy's home has a five zone radiant (hydronic) heating system and two wall heaters in the bedrooms (both natural gas based), but only the two zones in the baths are ever used, and very occasionally the wall heaters in the bedrooms. A wood stove in the living room also provides winter back up heat.


Amy's original PV system has been upgraded and maintained by Positive Energy Inc of Santa Fe. A 700-watt photovoltaic array feeds through a new RV Power Products Solar Boost 50 charge controller into eight Surrette S-460 batteries (1400 amp-hour storage). An older Trace U2512 inverter creates conventional AC electricity for most home loads. The highly efficient Sun Frost RF16 runs directly off the batteries, increasing the efficiency and reliability of the system. An E-meter in the kitchen area continually monitors power system status. Amy has no PNM or generator backup, preferring to get all of her power from the sun.

Efficient Appliances:

Sun Frost refrigerator-freezer, compact fluorescent lights, one halogen spot light (no incandescent lights), and a solar clothes dryer (a clothesline!). A Staber washer will arrive next week. Positive Energy Inc. and Bristol Stickney, longtime solar consultant and NMSEA board member, have modified her hydronic heating system to operate efficiently on DC battery power.

Solar Hot Water:

No back up! Installed by Golden Sun Solar Inc. of Santa Fe (982-9899). Two panels heat two separate tanks of water. Both systems are glycol-based closed loops utilizing heat exchangers to charge A.O. Smith hot water tanks.


If you are interested in seeing this house, please call Amy Bunting at 505-820-6518 for an appointment.