Although these entries weren't selected for RHR, we think their innovative approaches are noteworthy.

Thermally Thrifty

The 1,056-sq. ft residence that Huntertown, Ind.-based Shelter Specialties & Supply Co. helped construct for Habitat for Humanity, a group that provides affordable housing for low-income families, combines thrift with comfort.

Using one 40,000 Btu/hr. water heater donated from the local gas company, Shelter Specialties hooked it up to provide heating and hot water needs. Final result: A house that heats for less than $200 a year.

One hundred and twenty degree F water is pumped into the slab through four segmented circuits created with 1,000 sq. ft. of 1/2-inch PEX tubing. Structural insulated paneling ensures airtight efficiency. At -20 degrees F, heat loss is no greater than 18,000 Btus.

No Small Feat

This turn-of-the-century lumber baron's mansion posed the perfect challenge for Phillips and Norgan Plumbing and Heating in Bay City, Mich. With a small bathroom measuring in at 5 by 14 feet, the room barely even housed all its fixtures before the walls were torn down, according to company owner Mike Norgan.

Special care had to be taken that the weight of the project wouldn't be too great for the old structure to bear. Norgan drafted his own tubing plan and routed the tubing with one loop on 8-inch centers, which were filled with thin set instead of mud set to counter weight concerns.

Finally, tubing was installed in the shower walls so the tiles wouldn't be cold when the owner used it. Manual four-way valve controls also allow the owner to update the system and control the temperature.

Safe And Simple

When an icy and snow-packed walkway started to endanger Red Crags Bed & Breakfast patrons, the owners solicited Ambery Mechanical Co. Inc. in Colorado Springs, Colo., for an inexpensive and efficient solution.

The company wired one 11,000-watt, simultaneously-fired dual element water heater to a tekmar 650 snowmelt control that activates the heater when sensors set it off. Two sensors operate, in-slab and outdoor, to ensure the system is activated only when the temperature is too cold to melt the snow.

Ambery laid the walkway with 1/2-inch Wirsbo tubing placed on 6-inch centers stapled down to a 2-inch installation board.