Renaissance man carves out plan to conserve energy


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Stephen Long and Deborah Conti have developed a unique GeoHydro system to cool their house in Satellite Beach.

SENIOR LIFE Courtesy of Stephen Long

 

When Stephen Long and his wife, Deborah Conti, moved to their dream home in Satellite Beach in 2010, he was not prepared for the cost of energy in paradise.

“I was shocked at the amount of electricity needed to cool a large house during Florida summers,” said the retired Air National Guard major.

Long didn’t take long in remedying the problem.

“I have always been personally interested in energy conservation,” Long said.

In 2006, after the death of his first wife, Long had bought land in the Virginia mountains with the intent of building an off-the-grid house. Long’s research took him to geothermal systems. Life took him to Deborah, whom he met in 2008.

“I had a new life, so the plans for a house in the Virginia mountains no longer made sense,” he said.

The move to Tortoise Island, precipitated by a job offer from Northrop Grumman, led Long to revisit geothermal energy. He has developed a unique GeoHydro system that not only efficiently cools the house, but also transfers the heat from the house into the swimming pool.

“The house is cool, the swimming pool water is warm,” he said.

“There is no need to pay to heat the pool and we significantly lowered our electric bills. When I combine the energy saving of my GeoHydro System, plus the even more affordable purchase of solar panels, I can foresee a future where over the course of a year we produce all the energy we consume.”

The Virginia native is a Renaissance man who received degrees in television and film direction, audio engineering and physics from American University in Washington, D.C.

“I am fond of saying I got my television/film degree to learn how to see, my audio degree to learn how to hear, my physics degree to learn how to think and I became a fighter pilot to learn how to make decisions,” he said.

In 1980, after reading General Sir John Hackett’s “The Third World War — August 1985,” Long decided he needed to join the fight to help the United States defend itself.

“I learned about the Air National Guard, where service would allow me to fly, but also to continue my civilian career,” he said.

He spent more than two years learning to fly F-4Ds before heading to Andrews Air Force Base, where he became a traditional guardsman, flying several times a week, participating in drills every month and spending several weeks a year training.

“I also re-started my civilian career, becoming a research scientist for a small defense contractor,”
he said.

His military career included deployment to Iceland, Norway and England, among other European bases. When the Air Force decided F-4s were no longer needed, Long flew KC-135E Air Refueling Tankers for five years before transitioning to senior intelligence officer with the USAF Reserves.

“All in all, I served 23 years in the military,” he said.

His parallel civilian career included developing video surveillance systems on board unmanned aircraft.

“My teams invented much of the technology used on the drones aircraft,”
he said.

He concluded his years of government service working as a science advisor in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).

“We worked day and night to rush advanced ISR systems to Afghanistan and Iraq to help protect our troops,”
he said.

During “retirement,” Long spends his time further enhancing the GeoHydro system, as well as serving as science director at Art.Science.Incubator, the multi-disciplinary teaching facility Stephen and Deborah operate just minutes from their home.

With an electric car in the garage, Long believes he is within striking distance of reaching his goal of zero foreign oil consumption.

“I may not be able to save the world, but I can make a difference in the small part of the world I can control,” he said.

“If we all strove for net zero energy consumption, our nation could say farewell to foreign oil and we would also save the planet’s environment.”