The Golden Thread

Energy Self Sufficiency - Builder Offers $3/Yr Power Bill
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Author:  Leorising [ Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:32 am ]
Post subject:  Energy Self Sufficiency - Builder Offers $3/Yr Power Bill

URL: ... 63,00.html
Homebuilder Adds Net Zero Energy Upgrade Package
Builder's High-Performance Home Has an Annual Energy Cost of Just $3

Production builder Artistic Homes completed this true zero-energy home in summer, 2008.

Artistic Homes increases the efficiency of its heating and cooling systems by putting ducts in conditioned space in a central chaise down the main hallway.

Artistic Homes of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is among the first home builders in the United States to offer true net zero energy construction as an optional upgrade on every home it builds.

Since joining the U.S. Department of Energy's Building America program a decade ago, Artistic Homes has continually sought to refine and improve its home building craft. In September 2008 Artistic became one of the first builders in the country to build a true net zero home. The 1,660 sq ft home completed in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, will produce and conserve more energy than it uses throughout the year for heating, cooling, and plug load. It qualifies for LEED residential platinum level, Energy Star certifications for Indoor Air Quality, and DOE's Builders Challenge (learn more about the Builders Challenge and the EnergySmart Home Scale). The home's calculated annual energy bill is $153, of which $150 is utility service charges.

While Artistic's first net zero home was a demonstration project, the builder is determined that net zero will not be an idealistic dream but a realistic possibility within the grasp of the average home buyer. Artistic is now offering a zero energy package to home buyers on any home it builds, with a net zero energy guarantee for heating, cooling, and plug load. The builder signed its first contract with the net zero upgrade package on December 20, 2008. The upgrade sells for $42,500 to $61,900 depending on the square footage of the home. A 1,429 sq ft home with the complete zero energy package starts at $206,940.

In November 2008 Artistic committed to building all of its homes to meet the Builders Challenge criteria. While Builders Challenge requires a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index score of 70 or lower, Artistic has committed to building all of its homes to a HERS score of 60 or lower and LEED silver level or better. The production builder built 150 homes in New Mexico in 2007 and, despite the market slow down, built more than 100 homes in 2008.

Energy efficiency features include R-21 blown insulation in the walls, R-38 in the ceiling (R-50 in ZEH package), and high-efficiency windows. Artistic uses slab-on-grade construction with R10 rigid foam insulation under the slab and R5 rigid foam vertical insulation on the edges of the slab. Advanced framing techniques including 2x6 24 in. on center walls, California (3-stud) corners, and open headers use less lumber and provide more space for insulation in the wall cavity. Air sealing details include gasketing the sill plate and caulking or foam sealing all wiring and piping holes to minimize air leakage. Every home is tested by an independent HERS rater for whole house and duct leakage.

The biggest energy savings probably come from locating the ducts in conditioned space. Most of the home's heating and cooling registers come directly off a main duct trunk line that runs through a dropped ceiling in the hallway. The airhandler is also located inside conditioned space in a utility room.

The zero energy package includes roof-mounted solar photovoltaic panels, roof-mounted solar thermal water heating, a 15 SEER air conditioning unit, a 9.0 HSPF heat pump, R-50 ceiling insulation, and an energy recovery ventilator which provides steady circulation of fresh conditioned air through the home. The fresh air is cleaned by a HEPA filter and preheated or cooled by the ERV before sending it through the ducts. The ERV system helped Artistic's model zero energy home become the first home in New Mexico and one of the first in the country to meet the requirements of Energy Star's new Indoor Air Quality certification.

Reprinted in partnership with the Department of Energy's Builders Challenge


Wow, I gotta get me one of these


Author:  Siam [ Wed Oct 21, 2009 1:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Energy Self Sufficiency - Builder Offers $3/Yr Power Bill

Really neat article Leo, thanks. In my town they are starting to use underground systems to heat the house and air condition it in the summer. Too bad that we live so close to the river, can`t go down far and you hit water.

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