Presenting the Dome Home

Pompie Rinke stands outside his new home as he talks with the general contractor hours before having an open house on Friday. The home, at 1245 N.J., was designed for energy efficiency.

The unique shape of Lawrence’s “Dome Home” has been drawing stares from motorists near 13th and New Jersey for weeks now.

But the home’s new owners — Jamie and Pompie Rinke — believe they’ve found an aspect of the home even more interesting to look at — the utility bill.

A recently completed home energy rating estimated it will cost $64 per year to cool the home, $175 per year to heat the home, and $156 per year to operate the hot water heater.

“I think it is not hard to say that this is really one of the greenest affordable homes in Kansas,” said Rebecca Buford, executive director of Tenants to Homeowners, which built the home.

Puzzle pieces

The Dome

The dome is a key part of the equation. The dome design allowed the home to be built with structural insulated panels that fit together like locking puzzle pieces. The home — equipped with high-efficiency windows — is so airtight that a special fan is used in the upstairs bathroom to suck in outside air to keep the house from getting stale.

“It is like being in an insulated cooler,” Buford said. “The air doesn’t leak out.”

High-tech gadgets

Some of the home’s efficiencies come from simple means. Florescent bulbs throughout the house cut down on lighting expenses. Cork floors add an element of sustainability. But designers did turn to some cutting-edge devices. The home’s hot water supply comes from a heat pump water heater. The device operates on the principle that during most parts of the year the air in a home is already being heated. So, the special water heater takes the warm air around the device and uses it to heat the water. A standard electric hot water heater element picks up the slack.

Cost

The upper level of the home has cork flooring, chosen for its sustainability.

With land costs, the 1,400-square-foot, two-bedroom, two bath home was built for $150,000. Because it is part of the Tenants to Homeowners affordable housing program, it was sold for $115,000 and was placed in the Community Housing Trust program that places restrictions on how much it can be sold for in the future.

Fun

Owner Jamie Rinke already can see the advantages of living in the unique home.

“Delivery,” she said. “If you ever have food delivered, you’ll just say it is the dome. You can’t miss it. It’s the dome.”

The home is equipped with a heat pump water heater, which uses the surrounding hot air to heat the water.