By Linda L. Leake |
Just five miles from Wichita Falls, the Connolly house serves as a demonstration project for the Department of Energy's Building America program. Completed in December 2010, this home incorporates many energy efficient and green building techniques that allow it to achieve average heating and cooling bills of $50 per month while also having a minimal impact on the environment. This house is certified LEED-H Gold, Green Built Texas, and ENERGY STAR.
Energy efficiency starts with proper solar orientation--the lot faces south. The roof showcases a 7.75 kW photovoltaic system with 36 panels.
Additional features include a Mitsubishi 4-ton multi split HVAC system, three variable speed air handlers, fresh air intake (required because house is airtight), advanced framing 2x6 24-inch on center, 1” polyisocyanurate exterior foam board, clad wood low-E insulated windows and doors with .22 solar heat gain coefficient, open cell spray foam insulation and a conditioned attic (unvented system).
There is compact fluorescent lighting throughout the house, along with ENERGY STAR appliances in the kitchen. Propane tankless water heaters reduce energy and water waste. A 21,500 gallon rainwater collection system collects non-potable water for the drought tolerant native plants, and a permeable rock driveway assists in managing sudden downpours.
Other green features include FSC-certified wood used for interior trim and cabinets, formaldehyde-free MDF for painted shelves and trim, and reclaimed barn wood replacing certain structural timbers.
“It wasn’t our intention to make this a net-zero home, but we wanted to make it as energy efficient as possible,” says Chris Miles, principal of GreenCraft Builders, builder of the Connolly house. “The homeowners were going to go with a 3 kW solar system initially, but decided to go with a bigger system--7.75 kW--after learning about utility company rebates. With that, the house is generating 1,100 kW-hours per month.”
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