From Sarah Susanka's Newsletter Article on Energy Efficiency


From Sarah Susanka’s Newsletter; Feb 20, 2012…referring to the Showhouse at School Street in Libertyville, IL.

An Attainable Model for
Energy Efficiency    

Energy Star PartnerIn 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.  

 Go to Sarah Susanka's Complete Special Edition Newsletter




For utility and fuel provider rebates, eligibility and amounts are determined by your utility and fuel providers. For federal tax credits, consult your tax advisor for eligibility and details under the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-312, 12/17/10).  Priority Energy bears no responsibility if you do not qualify for or receive any rebates or credits. Advertised available rebates and tax credits are as of January 1, 2011. We only guarantee audit results if the home owner installs the home improvements and obtains utility and fuel bills for the 12 months before the whole house assessment for the premises where the improvements are to be made. The BPI logo is a trademark of the Building Performance Institute, Inc.  Priority Energy nationally recognized home performance leader.  The cost of the whole-house assessment will be applied to the cost of any home improvement project performed by Priority Energy.   "Right-sizing" refers to the process of determining which heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system should be used in any particular structure, savings vary. Find out why in the seller's fact sheet on R-values. Higher R-values means greater insulating power. Savings from each product will depend on the product or combination of products installed.  ENERGY STAR® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 


Priority Energy is a Chicago area based home energy audit, Aeroseal Duct Sealing, energy efficient retrofit, IECC Training Center and BPI & RESNET Energy Audit Training company servicing towns such as:

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