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Energy-Sipping House Receives Technology Award

For more information contact:
George Douglas, 303-275-4096
email: George Douglas

Golden, Colo., Jan. 26, 2001 - Rising energy costs will have little impact on the Idaho Springs residence of the Otto Van Geet family.

During 1999, the total cost to heat and power the home was $100. Even with today's increasing energy prices, energy costs at the home are not expected to top $150.

Van Geet, who works at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and co-worker Paul Torcellini used computer simulations to design the house for the alpine climate. The cost-effective result was a house that uses passive and active solar technologies to provide more than 90 percent of the home's energy needs.

On Jan. 27, these innovative energy saving features will be recognized with a first-place Technology Award by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) at its 2001 Winter Meeting in Atlanta.

"This design opens doors for other homebuilders to create energy-efficient, cost-effective, environmentally-sensitive housing," according to Torcellini and Van Geet.

Among the design goals was to minimize the total heating and cooling loads and the hot water and appliance energy demands. The home is cooled through natural ventilation and heated by the sun, using passive solar design, active solar hot water and radiant floor and convection baseboard heating.

Fluorescent light fixtures and a low-energy refrigerator were part of the package. Propane is used as a seamless backup when solar is not available, and also is used for cooking and clothes drying.

The project also has low maintenance costs. The house features concrete walls finished with stucco, a metal roof and aluminum-clad windows, which reduce the need for painting and sealing. The construction cost for the house was typical for custom homes in the Denver area, but the energy and environmental savings are substantial.

The ASHRAE Technology Awards recognize outstanding achievements by members who have successfully applied innovative building design in the areas of occupant comfort, indoor air quality and energy conservation. Their designs incorporate ASHRAE standards for effective energy management and indoor air quality.

For more information, visit Design and Performance of the Van Geet Off-Grid Home: Preprint (PDF 594 KB) Download Acrobat Reader

NREL is a national laboratory managed by Midwest Research Institute, Battelle and Bechtel. The lab is a leading center for research into photovoltaics, wind energy, plant- and waste-derived fuels, chemicals, and electric power, energy-efficient buildings, advanced vehicle design and hydrogen fuel cells.

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