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The ‘green’house effect

The ‘green’house effect

Center Grove Touchstone Energy Home, the first of its kind in Johnson County, is 50 percent more efficient than the average house

By Nicole Davis

Phil and Lauren Daniels in earth friendly kitchen
Phil and Lauren Daniels

Phil and Lauren Daniels shared in their same vision of what they wanted in their forever-home from the beginning of their decision to build in the Center Grove area. An open floor plan allows more space for them to entertain in the kitchen. From the ceiling structure to floor materials, every little detail was chosen carefully. Not only did the Daniels move into their dream home in December, but they also have a house that is 50 percent above average in energy efficiency compared to others of a similar size.

“It was very exciting to see everything we had been planning for two years in real life and see all the little details,” says Lauren, who grew up in the Center Grove area. “We spent hours searching the internet for ideas and to see those in place was rewarding. I feel like that’s why it was so rewarding. Nothing was just picked. Everything was really thought through.”

Johnson County Rural Electric Membership (REMC) and Hoosier Energy presented the Daniels with a plaque in commemoration of their Touchstone Energy Home on March 25. Hoosier Energy generates and transmits energy to 18 REMCs in Indiana and one in Illinois. Johnson County REMC distributes that energy throughout the county. Hoosier Energy manages a Touchstone Energy Home program, which requires the homeowner to meet energy efficiency building standards. The Daniels have the first Touchstone home in Johnson County.

“Your home will perform 50 percent better than the average home. That’s better than our Touchstone energy average. Our average is 47,” says Holly Yensel, with Hoosier Energy, at the presentation. “There is very little you could have done to improve upon that number.” Be excited about that.”

Yensel teaches classes on Touchstone Energy Homes, which builders must take prior to participating in the program. Dennis Copenhaver Custom Homes was the builder for Daniels’ home. Dennis Copenhaver, completed Yensel’s class in 2009.

“Dennis has been a real joy to work with,” Yensel says. “He understands the value of being able to build high efficiency homes to home values. These folks to not have to lose any comfort levels in their home to control the energy bills.”

The Daniels elected to build above Touchstone’s standards in their home. They chose to install geothermal energy, a heat pump water heater and have a foam lid in their attic so no heat will escape – all upgrades that are not required by the program but add to their energy efficiency rating.

“We considered an energy efficient home from the beginning, knowing this was our long-term house,” Phil says. “We will never move again.”

Phil and Lauren say their electricity bills this winter have been the same for their new 6,300 square-foot, all-electric home than their previous 3,000 square-foot home which had a gas furnace.

When going through the planning process, they looked at the initial cost at each energy-related expense and the time it would take pay that off or see return on investment. Some things like the geothermal made the most sense, because after a 30 percent tax credit for the installation, the cost was comparable to a traditional HVAC system.

“Keeping expense down was really appealing to me,” Phil says. “All that upfront thinking and planning paid off.”

More than three months into living in the home, the Daniels say they’re happy with the way everything turned out. Their three-year-old son has plenty of room to play and neighboring children to play with, they have a house inviting to entertaining guests and their energy bills are already showing a difference.

“The Daniels are privileged to have the first Touchstone Energy Home,” says John Gates, director of Membership Services for Johnson County REMC. “We’d like to have more builders in Johnson County on board with the program.”

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