The New Energy Efficient American Home

Multiple features designed to maximize energy-efficiency.

Energy-efficient products showcased at the 2005 New American Home stress off-the-shelf practicality and market-driven appeal. The house is located in central Florida, where the weather can get pretty muggy. But Kim Goehring, president of Goehring & Morgan Builders, had some solutions for keeping the house comfortable.

"Some of the energy efficiency products that we used in this home were the double-insulated Hurd wood windows, Lennox high-efficiency heat pumps and variable-speed fans," Kim says.

The Hurd windows have low solar-heat gain, keeping the house cooler and the homeowners more comfortable. The solar hot-water thermal system uses the sun's rays, making it an energy-efficient way to produce hot water.

"The air conditioning system has the ability to know what temperature you want it to achieve, what temperature you have inside the house," adds Joe Strada, sales and marketing manager of HVAC contractor Del-Air. It's going to run at a certain speed at a very, very efficient rate, and it's constantly removing humidity."

The air conditioning system is working at its highest performance because less heat is penetrating the home's walls due to Icynene insulation, an expanding spray foam designed to seal even the smallest opening where heat and humidity might infiltrate the house.

"The home was built with Icynene insulation under the roof decking. It seals the complete attic, so it's self-contained," Joe says."There are no vents, no penetrations."

Pam Wesley, a sales representative for Icynene, compares the product to a cooler. "If you put something warm in it, it's going to stay warm. If you put cool air in it, the house will stay nice and cool."

For the products that are not behind the walls — the appliances and lighting — homeowners want performance and appearance, according to Don Zimmer. As an account manager for KitchenAid, he is in an excellent position to know.

"We understand that they are very, very concerned about and interested in what the appliances look like," Don says. "But they are also passionate about how they work, how they function and how they're going to work out in their kitchens. They're Energy Star-rated, but they're also designed for long usage and to do what the consumer wants them to do."

Of course, with such sleek appliances, lighting becomes important. What good is beauty if no one can see it? Not surprisingly, even the lighting in this house is high-tech.

"The one thing that's nice about the lighting control system in The New American Home is that it's hooked up with the Kronos astronomical clock. It knows every day when the sun rises and when the sun sets. It will set the scenes based on the time of day we program into the system."

To determine that The New American Home is performing at its highest level, it will be monitored by IBACOS (Integrated Building and Construction Solutions) which works on the home for one year. Their research will allow them to measure the home's operating efficiency as part of research through the Department of Energy's Building America Program.

"If you're building a house, this is the house to look at," Joe recommends. "It has the best features, whether it be indoor air quality, high-efficiency equipment, energy recovery ventilator — this house has it all."

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