DOE Tour of Zero: Bellingham Power House by TC Legend Homes
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TC Legend Homes built this 2,781-square-foot home in Bellingham, Washington, to the performance criteria of the U.S. Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) program.
A greenhouse off the kitchen provides a thermal transition zone into the home, minimizing heat losses during the winter. The solar hot water heating panels are visible on the porch roof.
Thanks to an ultra-efficient design and a 9-kW roof-mounted solar electric system, the home achieves a HERS score of -12 and produces enough electricity to offset the power needs of the home and two electric cars.
TC Legend Homes installed a level-2 car charger in the home’s carport.
The ultra-efficient air-to-water heat pump (4.4 coefficient of performance [COP]) has an outside condenser unit, similar to that of an air-to-air heat pump
The open floor plan encourages transfer of heat from the thermal mass concrete floors to the second-floor living spaces while lighting the interior of the home with natural daylight.
The home is equipped with energy- and water-saving ENERGY STAR-certified appliances including a refrigerator, dishwasher, and clothes washer.
The pipes in the corner of the dining room are a supply air outlet for a heat recovery ventilator, which transfers heat between the fresh air being drawn in and the stale air being exhausted out to temper the incoming air.
All of the home’s lighting is ultra-efficient solid-state LED lighting.
Some of the trees removed from the site during construction were milled and the rustic boards were added as a design element. All woods are finished with low- or no-VOC finishes.
The homeowners benefit from the clean-air features the builder included like draft-free, airtight construction, dry-by-design walls, high-filtration filters, and nontoxic finishes.
Low-flow plumbing fixtures save water inside while a rainwater collection system retains water for irrigation outside.
The home meets the EPA Indoor airPLUS criteria for clean air with low- and no-VOC paints, stains, and varnishes.
The home’s utility room also serves as a shop, playroom, and storeroom.
A water-saving ENERGY STAR washing machine is located in the home’s utility room.
The utility room includes tanks for the solar hot water system and the ultra-efficient air-to-water heat pump, which provides domestic hot water as well as hot water for the home’s radiant floor heating system.
The home’s ultra-efficient structural insulated panel (SIP) construction minimizes thermal bridging and air leakage.
A crane is used to lift the SIP roof panels into place. SIPs come to the job site precut and ready to assemble for quick installation and reduced waste.
The wall moisture control system uses house wrap as a drainage plane over the SIP panels.
“The 10 kW solar panel array …will not only … power the home, but will produce enough of a surplus to charge two electric cars on site.”
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“With its airtight shell, structural insulated panel (SIP) construction, numerous south-facing windows, highly efficient heat pump, this one-of-a-kind house, which we’ve nicknamed the Powerhouse, has no electrical bills and costs nothing to heat. No oil, natural gas, or other fuels are used. The 10 kW solar panel array … will not only … power the home, but will produce enough of a surplus to charge two electric cars on site.”
– Ted Clifton, homeowner and builder, TC Legend Homes