There are many ways to measure how green your green home in Austin is, and given that Austin is the birth-place of the green home rating programs (starting in 1991), I’m going to use that as a measure of where the new green homes are here. Makes sense, right?
Of 1909 single family homes that were built in Austin, 38% participated in the rating program. 78723 was one zip code which did well for commercial and residential projects, and Mueller Austin features in the commercial projects to watch with the Austin Children’s Shelter, Mosaic, the Greenway Lofts, The Wildflower Terrace and the Mueller House Condominiums being featured as projects to watch. The large blue circle means over 151 homes green homes were added in 78723 – more than any other area. The full key for the above diagram is in the annual report – check it out.
In less than 4 years, all new homes built in Austin are planned to be net zero capable, according to the Austin Climate Protection Plan‘s ambitious goals. The 38% rated projects in 2010 are not all net zero, but it’s a step in the right direction. Builders are learning to work in new ways with new materials, and to figure out what elements score points in one rating program. There’s still a big leap to making the holistic choices that make an entire building net zero.
If you’re interested in more Mueller Austin homes for sale in 2013 and beyond, you can stay up to date at my other website. Or feel free to get in touch and ask me about what’s after Section 6.
Who doesn’t want to use less energy to heat and cool their home? Conventional wisdom may be to seal your home and to add a more efficient central air conditioning unit, but given that your ducts leak and your Central HVAC sucks if you’re remodeling a home without existing central air, you should consider a ductless mini-split system.
Why are these systems more efficient than a regular central HVAC?
No leaks. They don’t move cold air around leaky ducts, they move refrigerant around pipes. Given that even newly constructed air ducts typically leak around 10%, you’re already saving by having a transmission system that doesn’t leak.
Condition only what you need. You can configure the spaces to cool or heat independently – not all rooms in a home are typically occupied at the same time, so it allows for only using energy to bring your desired climate to the rooms you’re using.
Variable energy usage. You have a throttle on your energy usage. As Kristof mentions in this video, you can run your system at 10% capacity up to 130% capacity. Compare this to your typical central system which is either on or off, and you can see it’s easier to control temperature and humidity more accurately with the mini-split system. Some days you only need a 10% effort, so you don’t use as much power, and the unit doesn’t cycle on and off so much, leading to longer service life of the components. This is better for the grid too which no longer has to account for simultaneous spikes in usage as compressors cycle on and off.
One comment I often hear about ductless mini-split AC systems is that they’re more expensive, and they have big old head units in each room. Neither of these is true. As mentioned in the video, it is possible to have supply and return vents in the ceiling of your home while the head unit is in the attic – this appears to the building users to be central air, though they may notice a proliferation of thermostats allowing them individual control on a per-head basis.
As for expense, there are certainly federal incentives to reduce energy usage through the purchase and installation of high-efficiency AC systems. There are four fiscal costs of a typical HVAC system – initial installation cost, running costs, maintenance and replacement costs and external costs (costs to the environment and supply grid).
It’s certainly worth getting a HVAC installer to do a cost benefit analysis for you of a traditional system for your needs versus a mini-split system. You might be pleasantly surprised that the system which gives you more fine-grained comfort control and lower bills works out to be the best for your situation.
If you have central air conditioning in your home, with ducts routing air from the condenser to the rooms, your system sucks. Don’t just take my word for it, ask Austin home performance expert Kristof Irwin. Kristof and I were discussing his choice to use ductless mini-split systems in a net zero remodel he performed [...]
Austin homes’ energy efficiency get a potential boost this month as the Austin City Council approved a change to the Energy Conservation And Disclosure (ECAD) Ordnance. In summary: ECAD Audit reports have to handed over 3 days before any buyer’s option period ends Condos now require ECAD Audits in addition to single family homes Before [...]
As a participant volunteer in the Pecan Street Project – a smart grid demonstration project which includes Mueller, Austin in it’s five year study, I invited some folk into my home tomorrow to test ZigBee. Until today, I had no real idea what that meant. In technical terms it’s a “specification for a suite of [...]
5 Star Green construction can certainly run at a premium and people often ask me if they can get such a high performance home in their price point. I took a look at the market today and came up with the following answer: yes. There are a couple of challenges in finding them yourself – [...]
Air humidity is one of the key factors for comfort at home, and can sometimes be unexpectedly high in a brand new “green” build. I spoke to Positive-Energy‘s Kristof Irwin and found out one method he uses – psychrometric testing – to help identify issues with discomfort in the home. The type of comfort we’re [...]
Geothermal HVAC in a home – can it be done in Austin? This was the question I was posed on the phone last week, and the first thing that sprung to mind was the net zero capable community of SOL Austin which features geothermal HVAC options. I checked the MLS home sales in the City [...]
Modern high-performance homes in Austin: SOL Austin is the KRDB project 3.3 miles East of downtown Austin which has been swelling in the last few years with geothermally powered eco-abodes. I took a quick walk around today and shot a few short videos to give an idea of the completion status. There are two homes [...]
Here’s a short video I shot of the new green homes down on Longview Road in South Austin. Las Casas Verdes bill themselves as the first solar middle-income neighborhood in Austin, though I’m not sure if SOL Austin would agree. That said, colour me impressed by the specifications: 3kW Solar PV panels for each home [...]