Chattanooga Habitat for Humanity, EPB, green|spaces partner to build energy efficient homes

Tempest Jordan bought her three bedroom, two-bath home in East Chattanooga in November 2019 with the help of Habitat for Humanity.

Jordan said the 1,056-square-foot home at 3509 Hoyt Street has been ideal for her and her daughter, not only in providing her a more spacious home than the apartment she previously lived but in offering her a better and cheaper environment for home heating and air conditioning.

“I’ve seen substantial savings on my energy bills, and my new home has such great air quality, my family is having fewer allergy problems,” Jordan said.

The local Habitat teamed up with EPB and green|spaces to develop Jordan’s home as its most energy efficient house, offering both lower utility bills and cleaner air quality.

“The home was constructed with health and cost in mind,” said Jens Christensen, president of Habitat for Humanity in Chattanooga. “This pilot home is more energy efficient and better for the environment.”

With her levelized billing program, Jordan pays about $78 a month in electricity costs, including her participation in Solar Share to promote solar energy and lessen her carbon footprint. She has experienced a $231 annual savings over her last apartment and a $561 annual savings over the average residential bill in our area, according to EPB.

“Energy efficiency has been a critical part of all Habitat-built homes for some time and all of the homes we build are to Energy Star standards,” Christensen said. “We try to consider all of the operating costs of housing to be a part of our costs — not just the monthly mortgage payment and what it cost to initially built our homes.”

Jordan’s home goes a step beyond Habitat’s usual energy savings with a more energy efficient HVAC (heating and air conditioning) unit and more insulation both in the attic and throughout the home. The improvements also provide a better air filtration system to improve the air quality of the Habitat homes, Christensen said.

“Our residents experience fewer allergy and respiratory problems and definitely have lower cost utility bills,” he said.

Find out more

EPB offers free advice on energy savings measures for homes from its EPB Energy Pros. Interested persons may call EPB at 423-648-1372 or visit the website at at www.epb.com/energypros to set up a free consultation in person or by phone.

Photography by Dan Henry / Tempest Jordan, center, owner of the house at 3509 Hoyt Street in Chattanooga, helps display the net zero sign along with the parters in the project, including, from left, Jens Christensen of Habitat for Humanity, Elizabeth Hammitt of EPB, Energy Pro John Watts and Michael Walton of green|spaces.

To achieve the energy savings, Christensen said Habitat is spending 4 to 5 % more in upfront capital costs on building the house and installing more energy efficient heating and cooling system.

“It usually pays off within the first couple of years of living in the house,” he said.

Jordan’s house scored a 12 on the energy rating index HERS, which is at the lower end of the 150-point scale where zero represents net zero energy consumption. The national average HERS rating was 58 in 2020. The average HERS rating in the state of Tennessee was 66 in 2020.

Based on the success of Jordan’s house as a pilot study, Habitat is in the process of building similar low-energy usage houses at 239 Canary Circle and at 305 West 35th Street in Alton Park.

Habitat was the first Energy 5 star contractor in Chattanooga when it became a partner in 2007 and remains one of only two such local contractors, along with green / spaces. Christensen said the agency wants to do more to promote energy savings.

“This initiative is a great example of Chattanooga’s long-standing commitment to smart sustainability,” Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly said in a statement. “This program is particularly important because it opens up a new path for sustainable growth and improves our environment while also helping homeowners save money.”

EPB is hoping to promote similar energy savings efforts by other homeowners through its EPB Energy Pros and the assistance they offer.

Additionally, qualified contractors can now receive a 2021 energy efficiency tax credit up to $2,000 if they meet the 50% energy efficiency standard.

Chattanooga’s nonprofit green /spaces helped EPB develop a Smart Resource Guide for homeowners to cut their utility bills. The guide builds on the success of the previous green / spaces’ NextGen Homes, a demonstration development of four homes completed in 2018 that explored how to build homes that can produce as much energy as they consume with a market-rate budget. After the NextGen Homes, green|spaces wanted to focus on affordable housing.

“This home is even more proof that green building should be available to all – regardless of income level,” said Michael Walton, the executive director for green|spaces.

EPB’s resource guide and Energy Pros offer recommendations for building practices, insulation techniques and products, HVAC standards, and indoor air quality considerations, which will give homeowners a safer, healthier, less costly, lower maintenance home over the life of the house.

“As part of our mission to serve our whole community, we’re focused on providing our customers with expertise on affordable ways of enhancing energy efficiency, sustainability, and health so that more of our customers can benefit,” EPB President David Wade said.

Contact Dave Flessner at [email protected] or at 423-757-6340.

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Photo by Dave Flessner / Workers help frame a new house being built on Canary Circle in Alton Park by Habitat for Humanity. The house is the next home to feature energy savings features to help cut utility bills for its owner.

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