Bryan Turner, owner of Red Rock Builders, is passionate about conservation. He’s also passionate about his occupation, home building. And he’s found a way to give equal time to both – he married his passion to his work.
Taking a concept developed by Edmond Electric, Red Rock constructed the e4home, one of the most conservation-conscious homes in Oklahoma.
“Growing up in the 1970s definitely impacted my wife, Katie, and me in terms of environmental consciousness,” says Turner. “Our passion, though, also comes from being sandwiched between generations of parents and children that are equally passionate about protecting our resources.”
The name “e4home” is an acryonym for Edmond Electric Energy Efficient Home. To qualify for the name, a home must meet exceedingly high standards for everything from insulation and windows to heating, cooling and lighting. Nothing less than the best construction and materials are necessary for an e4home.
Those standards, applied in a “whole building” – or holistic – fashion, mean the e4home uses 54 percent of the energy of an average home of the same size.
Many visitors to the e4home expect it to be aesthetically unappealing. But it looks like any other two-bedroom house; there’s no giveaway that it’s a conservation guru.
“This house doesn’t look like something out of The Jetsons,” says Turner. “There’s a certain amount of buyers that, when they hear about all this high-tech stuff, they think they’re giving up the comforts and the aesthetics of the home. That’s not the case. If anything, e4homes are more comfortable.”
For Edmond Electric, the driving interest behind the e4home is economics. But, says Charlie Burgett, Edmond Electric Director, the company is discovering that other benefits appeal to people.
“For me to say Edmond Electric is promoting this for the purpose of sustainability wouldn’t be correct,” says Burgett. “It wasn’t behind the initiation of this program.”
With enough e4homes in Edmond, though, the utility could reduce peak demand for power during summer months and use more of its existing capacity during winter months. This helps to keep down the cost of infrastructure – roughly 50 percent of the utility’s costs.
Says Burgett, “The cheapest power plant is the one you don’t have to build.”
The e4home incorporates many energy-saving concepts, says Edmond Electric’s Bob Corff, Energy Services Manager. “The first I would mention is the geothermal heat and air system. I would mention the high-efficiency windows. I would mention the high-efficiency insulation in the home – a complete insulating envelope around the home. All of these make the home more efficient as they work together.”
Excellent insulation is a key ingredient of the home’s efficiency. Protected by one-of-a-kind insulation material, Icynene, the home leaks no energy, and drafts are a thing of the past. The e4home’s insulation is almost 50 percent more effective than traditional insulation materials. It seals the house with no cracks or leaks.
A geothermal heat pump provides efficiency and comfort by utilizing the constant temperature of the ground to moderate the home’s air and water temperatures. Edmond Electric provides rebates for any home with high efficiency heat pumps such as this – they’re not limited to e4homes.
Lighting is an important element in the e4home’s efficiency, as well. The house uses only fluorescent bulbs, reducing electricity needs for lighting by 75 percent.
High-end windows are double-glazed and reduce sun heating, boosting the home’s climate control systems.
“With a worldwide focus on energy consumption, current financial incentives and the introduction of certain technological advances, we have a ‘perfect storm’ for the introduction of the e4home,” says Turner.
The e4home is roughly five percent more costly than a home of comparable size with similar features. But the energy-saving features will return multiples of the cost difference during the lifetime of the home. Additionally, federal tax credits are available for homeowners building e4homes, and Edmond Electric also provides rebates for the e4homes.
While other builders are constructing similar homes in Oklahoma, this is the only home available in the Edmond area that meets e4home standards.
“We’ve brought this concept to the public. This is a concept that is not just about what Red Rock has built. It’s not just about what the City of Edmond is trying to do. It’s about changing the way we think about things. Part of the job that I need to do is to be able to communicate this new thinking to the average person who’s not an engineer,” says Turner.
The e4home is located at 3716 Bonaire Place in the Cottages at Stone Bridge, south of 33rd and Boulevard. It’s open for viewing from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every weekend until the end of May.