LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB)-- Norton Commons is a leader in going green. A trend typically found out west is saving local residents money on their energy bills.
It's silent through the Norton Commons neighborhood. "We don't hear any air compressors because there aren't any," said Marilyn Osborn Patterson, Marketing Director for Norton Commons.
Air compressors have been replaced with drilling, and regular heating and cooling systems are being replaced with geothermal energy.
"He called me up and said, 'hey, I want you to come run my operation for me,' and he said, 'it's something new, and it's going to be big,'" said Bob Bowman of Bucher Drilling.
Water is pumped through underground lines. Friction through the pipes transfers to heat. That heat goes to the home's geothermal unit to produce heating and cooling.
"That's why geothermal is so efficient because you've got that constant ground temperature of 58 that, as the water's pumping through the ground, the friction is drawing the heat off the ground," Bowman said.
They'll drill 350 feet into the earth. That's almost the length of a football field.
Norton Commons first looked at alternative energy options to get rid of air compressors and maximize lot sizes while keeping the neighborhood quiet.
It is now one of the largest geothermal developments in the United States, behind Austin.
All 350 homes in its North Village including Robert Butler's are geothermal powered.
"Seattle, Tokyo, San Francisco, Miami, New York and Louisville," Butler said. "Surprisingly, this is more advanced environmentally than any place I've lived so far."
Butler pays between $75 and $100 a month on his energy bill but said there are more benefits. "There's nothing that's burning. So, you don't have any risk of combustion. You don't have any risk of carbon monoxide leaking into the home, which since we're getting ready to have kids, I think is really important for us to eliminate those sorts of dangers and possibilities," Butler said.
Each house requires its own drilling, which is built into the cost of the lot. On average, the geothermal system is $20,000. A traditional system is between $10,000 to $12,000.
"Generally speaking, your return on investment is made within four to five years, particularly with the tax credit, which gives you 30 percent back the year in which you buy the unit," Osborn Patterson said.
Norton Commons admits the green lifestyle isn't exactly a selling point for most. "To be completely honest with you, most people don't bat an eye, most people don't ask questions, most people don't care," she said.
That often changes after move in day. "They experience the savings every month and the comfort level and then the quiet. So, when they experience it, that's when we get the positive feedback," she said.
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