From Sarah Susanka’s Newsletter; Feb 20, 2012…referring to the Showhouse at School Street in Libertyville, IL.
An Attainable Model for
In order to make the Not So Big Showhouse an excellent example of what's possible for the mainstream marketplace, it was important to me to make affordable and effective energy efficiency a key feature. After some research into the different programs and certifications available in the marketplace today, we chose to use the Energy Star rating system because its name is so well recognized and the program is free and easy to use. It's also a program in which each house is evaluated based on a variety of performance and/or prescriptive criteria, so the homeowner benefits from knowing that their house will have superior comfort, indoor air quality and durability. We then went beyond the current standards and designed a showhouse to meet the more stringent standards of Energy Star 3.0, which the EPA has scheduled to go into effect by the middle of 2012. This means that the showhouse is more than 15% more energy efficient than a home built to 2009 International Energy conservation Code requirements.
Under the attentive eye of Robert Schildgen of Priority Energy, the showhouse was designed with the following features:
- An Icynene spray foam air barrier system that seals walls, floors and ceiling cavities, as well as the spaces around electrical outlets and light fixtures.
- A state-of-the-art Aeroseal air duct sealing process which guarantees even air distribution throughout the entire home and attains maximum comfort and superior indoor air quality.
- A Lifebreath heat recovery ventilation system, and furnace and air conditioning units that exceed current efficiency standards.
- A south facing roof over the staircase, which is pre-wired for the addition of photovoltaic solar panels and other renewable energy options. (Please visit the Priority Energy website to learn more)
- An energy monitoring and control system that allows homeowners to monitor and adjust their energy consumption.
- Smart Dimmers that allow various "scenes" to be set throughout the main level, so that with the touch of a button you can change the mood of the whole space.
- A complete home automation system that can be controlled from anywhere, using the internet (see SmartWire descripton on the showhouse sponsors page for more information).
- KolourOne Satco LED bulbs throughout much of the main level and stairway.
These choices reflect a number of my attitudes toward energy efficiency. I firmly believe that our houses will become a lot more energy efficient when we allow the homeowner direct control over their consumption habits, much as hybrid vehicles today allow drivers to monitor and adjust their driving habits to reduce fuel and power consumption. It's all very well to add lots of energy efficiency features, but if the homeowner doesn't know the effects of their behavior patterns, it's still easy to waste a lot of energy without even knowing it. The energy monitoring and control systems in this showhouse are key to giving the homeowner access to this data, so that they can benefit from tailoring their power use habits to minimize their utility bills, while maximizing both comfort and functionality.
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