Being Energy Minded At Home with… Gary & Linda Wood

Gary and Linda Wood

by Brian Passey, Saint George Magazine

As a former high school physics teacher, Gary Wood knew he wanted green elements in the Kayenta home he built with his wife, Linda, in 2008.

“I understand energy and how it works,” he says. “I like the idea of being on the cutting edge of science.”

Gary says he truly believes there is a limited amount of energy on the planet and that it’s important to use it wisely. For him it comes back to a quote by Thomas Edison: “There’s a way to do it better — find it.”

Matt Marten with Kayenta’s Gulch Design Group designed the 3,600-square-foot home, which was built by Jake Joines of J-2 Construction. It features some of the energy saving measures that are standard for homes in this Ivins development known for blending in with the desert surroundings.

The features include radiant barrier foil-backed roof sheeting, 16-inch insulated walls and deep window wells. Additionally, the home has a geothermal system by Planet Geothermal that utilizes eight 200-foot wells connected to a heat pump for both heating and cooling the house. The heat pump uses water from the wells — at a constant 60 degrees — to produce a highly efficient heat-exchange medium.

A solar panel array on the roof, installed by K-V Electric, provides up to one-third of the home’s electrical needs. The Woods have a net metering agreement with Rocky Mountain Power that allows them to sell back unused power to the company. The solar system has saved more than 8,000 pounds of carbon from being released back into the atmosphere since it went online a year ago.

Many smaller green elements can be found throughout the home, from the lighting inside to the landscaping of native desert plants outside. The appliances are Energy Star-rated and even the home theater system is greener than normal. Gary managed to find the most energy-efficient receiver on the market to use as the brains of the seven-seat home theater with a large projection screen. The Rotel SRX-1560 receiver is a seven-channel receiver that uses less power than a two-channel receiver.

Yet there’s much more to the Wood home than its energy-saving features. The home theater sits near the center of the house, just to the right of the main entrance, which leads into the great room. As is standard with most Kayenta homes, the great room features stunning views of the red cliffs that tower over the development.

“We love this house,” Gary says. “If you look out this window it’s like a lodge in a national park.”

Adding to the “lodge” feel are exposed timbers above the great room and rustic hickory floors. Even the air vents are made of wood.

Just off the great room to the west is the couple’s wine room, with a comfortable sitting area and their wine collection. Like many other rooms in the house it also features depictions of old British sports cars. It’s where Linda’s British heritage — she was born and raised in England — and Gary’s love of cars come together. He also restores cars — many of them British vehicles from the 1950s and 1960s.

Two of Gary’s car projects — a 1957 white MGA convertible and a 1958 custard yellow Triumph TR3 convertible — sit in the garage. The garage houses both old and new; it’s where technology for the solar array and the geothermal systems is located as well as the classic sports cars.

Back inside the house, just east of the great room is the octagonal-shaped kitchen with a large island at the center.

“I just like the layout,” Linda says. “I like the tile work. The counter is fantastic. I love the way it’s designed.”

Also on the east side of the home are the casita-like guest quarters. Although not physically separate from the house like a true casita, the home theater separates the guest bedrooms from the main part of the home. In addition to the main guest bedroom there is the Indian Room with two twin beds and native décor for the couple’s two grandsons.

The master bedroom offers gorgeous views of the red cliffs high above. The master bath features a walk-in shower and a large bathtub surrounded by replicas of statues from Hearst Castle. A door from the master bath leads to a back patio of deep maroon stamped concrete with a kiva-style fireplace to match the larger one in the great room. sgm