Meridian Star


October 27, 2013

Technology helps builders, homeowners reap energy-savings

MERIDIAN —     How is it possible to engineer and build a 2,500 square foot home that can withstand the South's sweltering summer heat, maintain an internal temperature of 75 degrees, and never see a heating or cooling bill higher than $65 – even in the dog days of August?

    Local Homebuilder James Joyner said he can answer that question. As he and his crew near completion on Meridian's first Energywise net-zero certified home, Joyner says the savings earned by utilizing the Texas-based company's revolutionary engineering process are already evident. Net-zero certified homes are now available in east central Mississippi through Lavisa Glass and Ashley Robinson of American Insulation, the only contractors in the tri-state area (excluding Montgomery, Ala.) to obtain exclusive certification with Energywise, according to a company press release.

    A proven industry leader in ground breaking environmental and energy conservation technologies, Energywise partners with home builders across the Southeast to mechanically engineer and build high performance homes with guaranteed energy savings, a company press release states.

    "What makes the biggest difference in energy savings on these homes is the spray foam insulation," Joyner said. " It makes the seal so much tighter, where you don't have but maybe one percent air loss through the exterior wall. We spray the bottom side of the roof decking – not down on the ceiling joists – which makes a big difference in attic temperature. It keeps it to within a couple degrees of the interior house temperature, so you don't have that heat source overhead penetrating the house. The AC unit doesn't run but about half as much as it normally would this way."

    "Spray foam is the thing of the future. The more people start doing it, the more of an affordable option it will become for home builders. If we build our homes as energy efficient as we can, we can keep power bills down. I don't have a buyer for this home we're building now. This is my own investment. I wanted to see exactly what it would do for my bottom line," Joyner said of the net-zero certified home under construction in the Sunset Pointe subdivision.

    While the spray foam insulation was more expensive up front than having fiberglass blown in, it has helped save on expenses in other areas, he said.  

    "On this particular home, I was going to have to put in two AC units. Now, with the foam insulation, I have it down to just one unit, and it's three tons less than what I had originally anticipated. That alone saved me $6,000. The fiberglass was going to cost me about $4,000, so with my total investment on the foam, I'm really only $2,000 above what it would have cost me to go the traditional route. But I'll get that money back at about $100 a month average with what I'll be saving on power bills, and it will keep paying me back. Let's face it – power rates will never come down, so it's up to us to do things to keep our usage down," Joyner explained.

    Tim Martin, power use advisor for East Mississippi Electric Power Association, said there are many factors during construction that contribute to a new home's energy performance level.

    "Orientation on the lot is important, and so is proper load calculation (on AC units) and a good duct system. Sealing the air envelope is important to minimize air losses inside the envelope, and there's probably no better way to accomplish this than with the spray foam insulation. Caulking around wiring and plumbing penetrations and sealing the sole plates … these types of things become non-issues when you're dealing with spray foam. These are the kinds of things I normally tell people about, but all of that conversation is a mute point now with this engineering," Martin said after touring the Energywise net-zero certified homesite last week.

    "This is a complete process of integrated solutions, and it's a very wise investment. People don't mind spending money on architecture, but really if you're priorities are in order, insulation should be the number one thing. If you have the chance to start from the ground up when you're building, spray foam insulation is a good way to go. I highly recommend it," Martin said.

    The Energywise net-zero certified home is also better sealed than most conventionally built homes, and has better in-door air quality with less dust, he said, even during construction.

    A NASA spin-off company, Energywise has successfully engineered and guaranteed tens of thousands of homes and commercial structures with incredible results, the press release states.

    "With more than 40,000 'intelligent efficiency' engineered homes and commercial buildings to their credit, Energywise homes are confidently built with quality to sustain energy savings for the life of the home, and are backed by a written performance guarantee on the home's heating and cooling bills for the first two years after construction," the press release states.

    "Utilizing proprietary space-age engineering software and mechanical layout services designed exclusively for foam insulated structures, Energywise correctly sizes and engineers each mechanical system for proper air distribution, thus preventing costly problems in construction that could result in improperly sized units, moisture issues and temperature disparities, to name a few," according to the press release.

    "It's not what you put into the building of a new home, it's HOW you put it in that makes all the difference when it comes to energy savings," said Energywise CEO Richard Rue. "When a home is analyzed and engineered utilizing the Energywise 5-step analysis, the potential savings in energy consumption far outweigh the initial costs incurred in the construction phase."

    "The key to understanding “intelligent efficiency” is to stop thinking about energy efficiency simply in terms of individual components like furnaces, air conditioners, insulation, or windows, and to start thinking about it in terms of the entire system. When engineering homes and commercial buildings, EnergyWise utilizes a 'total systems approach,' which considers geographic location, windows, doors, HVAC engineering and hardware, insulation package, air filtration and more. We take the guesswork out of optimizing the HVAC performance of any home or building while incorporating all the other inherent benefits of building the ultra energy efficient way," Rue explained.

    According to the press release, in addition to ultra energy efficiency and total comfort, Energywise homes offer a multitude of environmental and economical benefits to homeowners, including:

    • Consistent room temperatures on all levels of the home

    • Guaranteed humidity levels of 30 to 50 percent

    • Assured Indoor Air Quality, also known as "Hospital Quality Air"

    • Higher resale values

    • Quality, durable mechanical duct design

    • Qualifying green house federal tax credits

    • Guaranteed energy consumption

    "Energywise homes provide a smart and profitable choice for buyers, allowing them to derive tens of thousand of dollars worth of savings from lower energy bills during the life of the mortgage," the press release states.

    For more information on Energywise Guaranteed Energy Saving Building Solutions, visit

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