“Heat my home for $1.63 a week! Guaranteed comfort and warmth without a sweater in January?”
That’s what I’m talkin’ about.
With help from the United States Energy Information Administration, we’ve calculated projections related to the cost of heating our latest Passive House project, Le Jardin located in West Olympia:
The cost of electricity used to heat this home is only $85 per year!
How is it possible to lower your heating bill this much? It’s pretty simple, really. Here is a list of how we do it:
1. Super Insulate your home. How much insulation is needed will vary with the exact climate where you are building. We don’t want to buy and install insulation that is unnecessary. But if the home is designed with a focus on insulating to the correct level to achieve really meaningful savings on your energy bill, investing in extra insulation will pay off very quickly.
2. Build with really good Doors and Windows. There are new and better windows coming onto the market all the time. However, most windows that simply meet code are still poor performers, energy-wise. These windows also tend to block the heat of the sun as they become better at insulating against heat loss. The trick for homes in the Pacific Northwest is to select windows that have really high insulating values AND a high capacity to let the sun’s heat come through. It sounds contrary, but modern window technology offers this magic mix – you just need to know what to ask for.
3. Use excellent Air Sealing techniques during construction of your home. Most homes that exist today are leaky! New homes that meet current energy codes will be tighter. But to really make an impact on your energy bill, you want a home that is built air-tight. This level of air sealing is not expensive or difficult to achieve during the construction of a home. But it does require exacting focus on the part of the home’s designers and builders. Simply squirting caulk and spray foam into a typical home during construction will not get the job done!
4. Install a highly efficient ventilation system. Most homeowners pay their energy bills so they can heat their home, only to turn around and dump the air they just paid to heat outside each time they turn on an exhaust fan in the bathroom or kitchen. Of course we need fresh and healthy air in our homes, but the money-saving move here is to ventilate your home with a small system that uses the warmth found in the stale air that is being exhausted, to heat the fresh air that is coming in. Heat Recovery Ventilation systems or HRV’s have been around for a while, and the better systems will retain over 85% of the heat energy from stale air as it is exhausted from your home. The best part of this approach is that homes which use good HRV’s have consistent temperatures throughout the whole house and always have excellent indoor air quality – quiet, constant circulation of clean air through good filters means that your entire home will be super comfortable and always feel fresh.
5. Most important: use the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) software when designing your home. If you simply target the above 1 through 4 without careful planning first, you can create a home that is unnecessarily expensive, and it may be uncomfortable to live in. We are trained to use the world’s best energy modeling software, the PHPP, in all of our work. What this means to you is that we can do cost/benefit analyses to drive the cost of building your home down, while ensuring that your energy use will be fantastically low! Best of all, we know your finished home will be unusually comfortable, even before we build it!
Performing these five steps will add up to very impressive savings! There will be no cash spent on large heating systems; and geothermal heat pumps or whole-house radiant floors are overkill with our homes. Exotic, complicated, and maintenance-heavy mechanical systems do not need to be purchased or installed to create an energy-efficient home.
Simple and effective, and comfortable for $1.63 per week. Nice!
Published on October 26, 2011.