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'Habitat' Homes Get Expert Energy Efficiency Help

Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:43:30 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 17 2013 05:00:27 PM CST

Habitat for Humanity's latest housing project is getting expert energy efficiency help.

The 12 low-income units located on Canon Perdido Street are currently under construction.

The goal is to have the homes pass the Passive House certification, meaning they must have a low environmental impact.

With the help of Allen Associates, the Chumash Community Energy Program and emPower Santa Barbara County, the families won't have energy bills.

"So their electricity bills are going to be completely cut away because the house will be more efficient by not leaking as much air. They're not going to have to use air conditioning or their heaters really at all throughout the whole year, and it's also being constructed with energy efficiency appliances, but on top of the roof we have solar electricity," said Shawn Jacobson, of Allen Associates.

The solar power will provide all the power as well as 70 percent of the hot water.

The county is donating the time of its energy coach to help test the buildings to make sure they aren't leaking air.

It's a service provided to any homeowner in the county.

"We think it's really important because a lot of people don't really know what's going on in their homes. They may have leaks or improperly installed insulation, they may have furnaces that aren't operating correctly. So we want to help them save money and make them more comfortable in their homes," said Ashley Watkins, with emPower Santa Barbara County.

The Chumash energy team has a crew of five sealing off leaks.

"We go through and make sure the homes are air sealed. So we put blower-doors to pressurize the homes and we go around with a smoke stick around windows and other potential holes to see where air might be leaking out of the homes," said Lars Davenport, with the Chumash Community Energy Program.



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