HGTV Green Home 2009: What Makes it Green?

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Energy and Atmosphere

Most people associate a green home with one that is energy efficient. Though there are many other factors that make a house sustainable, energy efficiency is at the heart of the issue. The HGTV Green Home will use about 50% less power than a conventional home. The following are several ways that accomplish this savings.

Insulation – The entire house, including the attic and foundation walls are insulated. The wall system is ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms), which achieves 3 to 4 times the insulation “R” Values of a conventional wall. The ceilings of the house are insulated with a sprayed foam that expands to fill every cavity and void.

Energy Star Labeled Home – The HGTV Green Home will be certified by the EPA’s Energy Star Labeled Home Program. This means that the house must exceed the minimum code requirements for energy efficiency by 20%. Energy Star also requires a third-party inspector to make sure the insulation and systems in the house are done correctly before they are covered up.

Air Infiltration – A common misperception is that a house needs to breathe. Its true that a house must be ventilated, but it should be controlled. Breathing is essentially uncontrolled air leakage. The HGTV Green Home has ventilation that pre-conditions incoming air and introduces it in a controlled manner. The amount of air infiltration is also checked by a third-party inspector.

Efficient Windows – The windows in the HGTV Green Home are among the most efficient. They reduce the amount of glare and heat gain through high performance glass. They are also well-built to limit the amount of air leakage.

Superior Heating and Air Conditioning Systems – The heating and air conditioning system has a number of features that improve efficiency:


  • Individual Controls – The system features several zones that allow for unoccupied rooms to save energy and give people greater control of the temperature in the spaces they’re using. Thermostats automatically adjust temperature settings during the day, evening and weekends to save energy.

  • No CFC Refrigerant – The system does not use any potentially harmful CFC-based refrigerants.

  • Sealed Ductwork - All ducts are sized to deliver correct airflow to each room and sealed with mastic to prevent leaks. The ducts are tested by a third party to make sure they work as planned.

  • High SEER Rating – The system has 16 SEER ratings that well exceed code requirements for efficiency.

  • Noise – The system is rated among the quietest systems available.

  • Energy Recovery Unit - The air that is exhausted is cycled through an energy recovery unit. This unit uses a radiator-like device to pre-condition the air being introduced for ventilation with the conditioned air that is being exhausted.


Water Heating – By using both solar and tankless water heaters the home will save energy by allowing the sun to create hot water, and any additional heating will be generated by the tankless heater on an as needed basis. Also, a recirculation pump has been installed to ensure that all fixtures and appliances receive hot water on demand, which increases the water efficiency of the house.

ENERGY STAR Appliances – By purchasing Energy Star Certified Apppliances (from sponsor SEARS KENMORE), the house uses 30-40% less energy and water than standard models.

Sealed Attic – The attic is sealed and insulated to reduce heat buildup in normally hot attic storage areas. This allows duct work to be contained within conditioned space and greatly improves comfort.

ENERGY STAR Lighting Fixtures – By using Energy Star Certified light fixtures, the house provides excellent lighting while reducing the amount of electricity used. Compact fluorescent fixtures are used extensively to reducing lighting loads and limit the amount of heat added to the house by lighting.

Natural Light Tubular Skylights – Westcliffe will be using tubular skylights that capture daylight and channel the light into the house, reducing or eliminating the need to use conventional lighting on a sunny day. At night, the same skylights are equipped with a compact fluorescent light kit and are used as a standard light fixture.

Solar Power – Westcliffe Residence generates some of its own electricity with solar power. The house includes a photovoltaic (PV) system that provides about 40% of its required power.

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