by Lisa Janish
Secluded on the Moccasin Point peninsula of iconic Lake Vermillion in northern Minnesota, you'll find an exquisite half log sided home on south facing sandy shoreline, hosting every amenity one hopes to find in a premier lakefront home. What is not apparent is how inexpensive this property is to maintain due to the reliable energy efficient systems running quietly in the background.
Step inside the log trussed covered entry and you will find a vaulted great room with a two story tall stone fireplace and floor to ceiling glass showcasing an island studded view across Daisy Bay and the tip of Birch Point, out into Big Bay. There's a magnificent kitchen with custom hickory cabinets, granite counters, and stainless appliances. The main floor is home to the luxurious lakeside master suite with its spacious granite master bath, walk-in closet, and glass door to the lakeside deck. Up the log stairs is a loft overlooking the lake. Downstairs, the family room features a full bar and is open to the lakeside stone patio. There are two more spacious bedrooms and another large bathroom. Among its numerous first class amenities, the home offers in-floor heat on all three floors, central air conditioning, central vac, and whole house sound including outside speakers.
Also on this property are two heated garages with guest quarters above and a boathouse with an electric double rail system and three docks. The three car garage has in-floor heat both in the garage and in the apartment above, which has its own full bathroom and granite kitchen. The 26 x 46 garage has propane heat in the garage and electric heat in the rec room above.
The total electricity and propane gas bills for one year for all this? $2,300 for electricity and $1,400 for propane gas!
The owners, Jim and Judy, did not specifically set out to build an energy efficient home. They fell in love with a piece of property they were told they couldn't build on. "We loved the location. South facing road accessible property on Lake Vermilion is rare and wind is never an issue here. The location in this sandy cove protects you from big waves. It's a great place to entertain the family. The swimming and boating is great because you are out of the main traffic on the lake. The kids love it because they can swim without having to worry about boats going by.
"The turning point was when we were told we couldn't build on this land. We were determined that there had to be a way."
What followed was much research, discussions with various contractors, and careful thinking through how to do things more efficiently and effectively with regard to long term reliability. "Everything had to be done top notch. We didn't cut corners on anything. This was going to be our retirement home."
They took into account that in northern Minnesota it is not unusual for traditional drilled well water lines and septic systems to freeze during hard winters and they wanted systems that could
They decided upon a whole-house rainwater system for the main home drinking and domestic water. Although not yet common on Lake Vermilion, rainwater systems are used in other areas such as the Caribbean, where rain water is the water supply source for the island of Bermuda. "I wanted the best water I could get up here, especially having kids, and after talking to experts, rainwater seemed to be the best."
The whole-house rainwater system provides the water needed for the entire house and can be drank from any tap. In addition, the system provides the water needed for the in-floor heat system installed on all three floors.
Have they ever run out of rainwater? No. In over a decade of heavy use, including hosting friends and family groups as large as 38 people, they have never run out of water. Should the area ever experience an extended dry period, the house could simply be tapped into the year round lake water system that supports the guest quarters above the garage or a groundwater well could be drilled; however, they have never had to consider this as they have always had plenty of water.
Maintenance on the rainwater system is simply cleaning one of the three filters every five years, changing one of the filters every year, and changing the third filter every month or two.
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