Zero Energy Habitat House Featured on Solar Tour

On October 5 the U.S. Department of Energy, Building America Zero Energy Building, Habitat for Humanity house was featured in the 2002 National Solar Buildings Tour, by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Chattanooga, Tennessee – October 24, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] Tours for about 70 people, conducted by Jeff Christian, from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, included several building contractors from the Knoxville, Tennessee area. Christian opened up the tour by pointing out that this is the first attempt to attain zero energy on a Habitat for Humanity house in the country. If all of the energy saving features deliver the designed energy efficient performance and the solar photovoltaic (PV) system works as intended the total average monthly electricity bills will average around US$21. A new program may be announced soon in the area that would result in this home owner receiving US$0.15 per kWh for all the power generated by the 2 kW, roof-mounted solar PV system installed by Big Frog Mountain of Chattanooga. The retail rate for the all-electric homes in this Habitat neighborhood is US$0.063 per kWh. Christian pointed out that the house is not only about solar energy. It has extensive energy efficiency built into the design. The house, contains air-tight structural insulating panels (SIP), which are glued together. The house is 8 times more airtight than the other “Energy Right” 2 X 4 wood frame houses built by the Loudon County Habitat affiliate. In addition to the SIPs, the windows are airtight and they were installed carefully by caulking and sealing using the best and latest window installation guidelines. Florida Solar Energy Center, another DOE Building America Team, is helping measure the real time energy performance of the house. To achieve the level of efficiency, Andersen Windows with a U-factor of 0.34 and a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.33 were selected. The house was rated by DOE and EPA as Energy Star with a score of 90.2. Energy Star Status is attained by exceeding 86 or 20 percent better than current minimum building energy conservation codes, a score of 80. The Heat Pump Water Heater is integrated with the whole building design of the house in a very thoughtful fashion. It is installed to help the house stay cool and dry and help the refrigerator run more efficiently during the summer, fall and spring, and in winter; reduce the risk of radon, termites and moisture uptake from the crawl space and capture some of the heat from the earth in the winter to heat hot water. The house also features a wastewater heat recovery system, that preheats the cold water as it refills the water heater during showers. There will be many firsts with this house but one of the most impressive could be that DOE and HUD will use this house as a concept house to build one ZEB Habitat House in each U.S. state.

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