Signal Mountain home touted as model of energy efficiency

Signal Mountain home touted as model of energy efficiency

December 1st, 2009 by Amy Williams in Green

The Trey Wheeler residence on Signal Mountain was recently completed by Collier Construction. The home will be featured today in a discussion on the new standards of energy efficiency.

The Wheeler residence in Signal Mountain's Fox Run neighborhood may just be the envy of all the other homes on the mountain, at least when it comes to utility bills.

For three months this summer, the 3,200-square-foot home with six residents had an average monthly utility bill of $50. Now that average is closer to $65 a month. The home, which belongs to architect Trey Wheeler, utilized simple construction techniques to keep the home's energy costs down.

The builder of the home, Collier Construction, will host a brunch today to discuss how the home is the model of energy efficiency, and it didn't cost the homeowner an arm and a leg to do it.

Mr. Wheeler, who also designed the home, said he had three big concerns in mind during its planning. One was to accommodate his family's active lifestyle with something that was low maintenance. Lastly, he was mindful of energy cost and consumption, something he said he feels very strongly about.

"America consumes more than half of the world's energy with less than a tenth of the population," Mr. Wheeler said. "We're fat and sassy, and we need to quit living like that."

Mr. Wheeler and builder Ethan Collier will lead a discussion on the techniques used in building and designing the house. For one thing, the home is positioned so that only one room in the home needs lights during the day. A building technique called advanced framing was used to allow more insulation to be put into the walls.

None of the energy efficient techniques used in building the home resulted in additional costs. In fact, though Mr. Wheeler declined to say how much building the house cost, he said it was about 30 percent less than the going rate for new construction on Signal Mountain.

"From the outset, (Mr. Wheeler) wanted to achieve maximum energy efficiency without using any costly technology or renewable energy," said Aaron Collier with Collier Construction. "If his energy bills average $70 to $100 a month from here on, we'll be really excited about that."

The home was completed in July and the family moved in the same month. Mr. Wheeler said his wife and four children, ranging from 3 to 16 years old, were initially concerned the house might look strange, but they are now very comfortable.

"The acid test for us was when we pulled out the bills on our old home," he said. "We're using 40 percent fewer kilowatt-hours in this house than the old house."