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TIP: Start looking for builders and home energy raters before you build!

ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy designed to help individuals save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.

ENERGY STAR choices save money on energy bills and meet strict energy guidelines set by the EPA and US Department of Energy.

Sun Plans Inc. designs house plans with specifications that allow the home to achieve Energy Star certification when construction is overseen and verified by a third party Energy Star H.E.R.S. Rater. Although a rater can review the construction of a builder who has not previously built to Enery Star standards, the link below will assist in locating a builder with Energy Star experience.


6-21-09-ss-2-aIt only makes sense that we would feature “The Solstice” home design this quarter. And it just so happens that a reversed version was constructed by one of our favorite builders. (See more on Anchorage Builders below.) They not only sent us many photos of the house, but took the time to tell us about the energy details of which they are so proud:

“The Solstice was built for Bill and Nicole in Efland, NC. It turned out great and they are experiencing a comfortable, self regulating house with very low electric bills, in the $40-60 per month range depending on season. Bill’s professional woodworking shop is running off the same meter, too. They have great cross breezes and the passive solar works like a dream.”

Here are the general energy-related specs on the house:6-21-09-ss-2-b

Orientation – south wall faces 4 degrees east of true south

Foundation – Raised, insulated slab with extensive tile on first floor

2×6 walls with extensive air sealing

Wall & Roof Insulation – Icynene (sprayed foam)

South Glass – Cardinal LoE-178 #3 0.63 SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient) which lets in 63% of the sun’s heat. Overhang designed to keep sun off of glass in summer.

E,W, N Glass – Cardinal Lo-E 170 0.37 SHGC glass (this glass keeps out the sun, but lets in a high amount of visible light)

6-21-09-ss-2-c(The window data above is for the glass only. Pella ProLine casements and awnings were used. Cardinal is one of the most popular glass manufacturer’s and is used by many window manufacturers.)

HVAC – 2 small heat pumps for up and down, with extra air returns or transfer grilles, and fresh air intake

Wood stove

Solar hot water

Garage & Shop – detached, pre-plumbed conduit for future PV (large roof area, rotated to face south)

Interior Finishes – hickory flooring in kitchen (dropped slab to allow flush transition) and upstairs, cherry trim and interior doors, custom faux finish paint on some areas, extensive color elsewhere, owner built front door (mahogany) and birch kitchen cabinets, stone chimney

Exterior Finishes – local craftsman built timber frame front entry with cherry T&G gable inside porch covering

6-21-09-ss-2-d“It was an great experience and co-collaboration with the home owners on finishing details. We had the house on the local green building tour last May; it was a great example of true passive solar and great architecture. ”

Vernon Little
Anchorage Building Corp

(While you can understand why they would not want people that area not in their building area asking more detailed questions about this house, if you are in their building radius as mentioned below then I feel sure that they would not mind a few questions.)

6-21-09-ss-3-aBuilding in Central NC around Pittsboro, Hillsborough, or Chapel Hill? You need to contact Anchorage Builders. They have built several of our homes (see featured home above) and continue to delight our customers in terms of proven low energy homes, professionalism, attention to detail, knowledge of green and energy construction methods as well as the ability to listen. Our clients have described them as “just really nice guys!”

As an architectural design firm that specializes in designing low-energy homes, we are concerned about our clients taking our/their plans to a builder that has little experience and training in energy efficiency. If a home owner is not so fortunate as to find a builder trained in energy-efficient construction (this is more the norm rather than the exception), then it is critical to the home’s performance to hire a Home Energy Rater as a third party and to request an Energy Star Certified Home. Raters not only oversee conformance to building sealing, right insulation, and good HVAC design, but perform testing prior to the house being finished to see if anything needs to be corrected.

Click to find out more about Anchorage Builders:
6-21-09-ss-3-b          6-21-09-ss-3-c          6-21-09-ss-3-d

July 2018
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