"5 Star Plus" Home Energy Rating Score

Our home was evaluated to determine its Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score.  This is a way to compare it to other homes, including old and new construction.  The home received a score of 5 star plus and the HERS index was 32. 

This means the house is estimated to be 68% more energy efficient than standard new construction and 100% more efficient than older existing homes.  The HERS report includes an estimate of the annual energy cost which was $1,249, broken down to heating ($256), cooling ($80), water heating ($104), lights/appliances ($692) and service charges ($116).  Knowing what our montly energy bills were for our last house, it's hard to believe those numbers are for the entire year!  The annual savings is reported to be about $2,840 over a comparable size existing home rated at 130.  Without adjusting for increasing cost of utilities over time, that's a savings of $85,200 over 30 years. 

While it's fabulous to see that we'll save money on utilities from now on, that wasn't our main motivation to build this type of house.   We were really impressed with the quality of construction and how comfortable the Passive homes were that we toured.  Once we learned about the Passive house concept, it really made sense to us to build a home this way.  Perhaps living in a century-old-home for 12 years put us in the right mindset to build for longevity, knowing this structure will be here long after we're gone.  It feels good and really makes sense to build a home that minimizes its impact on our environment, and will do so for well over 100 years.  In the meantime, we have the pleasure of living in it and enjoying its comforts as a family.


Nice Indeed

Our artistic friend drew a cute house cartoon and framed it as a housewarming gift.  We absolutely agree; it sure is nice to have a passive house!

Throughout the 4 frigid months that we've lived here, we've found that our Nordeast Nest is simply a super comfortable home.  There's no need to wear slippers to keep your feet warm on the wood or tile floors.  You can open a closet door and walk in without experiencing a drop in room temperature, even though the closet has two exterior walls and no heat vents. We appreciate the extra storage space in our mechanical room that has no furnace.  We've had our (electric) heat pump set to maintain a baseline of 64 degrees, and we let the modulating gas fireplace heat the house up to a cozy temperature during the day.  In January, with an average outdoor temperature of 19 F, our gas bill was $30 (which $15 is tax and fees) and the electric bill was $140 (which $21 is tax and fees).  We definitely use a lot less energy than we did in our old house next door, despite the new house having over twice the heated square footage.  We look forward to coasting through spring with even less heating (or cooling) needed.  Spring has to arrive at some point, right? 


Artwork by the multi-talented scientist/artist, Lisa LaGoo.

The Photo Shoot

It's a good sign when your architect, designer and builder want to capture professional photos of the end result. The team hired an architectural photographer, Corey Gaffer, to document the home for their portfolios.  They all came for a fun-filled day of photography.  The designer unloaded an entire room full of props, including accent pillows, artwork, vases, flowers, oranges, and beautiful runner rugs. Everything supplemented our existing decor perfectly, and enhanced the rooms while matching our style.  Everyone contributed to polish faucets, re-arrange furniture and adjust dishes to look just so. A few days after the photo shoot, our 4-year-old saw me making his bed and said, "Oh, you're staging it." Yes, a lot of staging took place that day, and the end results are stunning. Corey is a talented photographer, creating magazine-worthy images out of our family home.    Here is our Nordeast Nest- looking particularly photogenic that day.  ;)

Living Room-


Master Bedroom and Bathroom-

Kids' Bathroom-


Metal Roof

Our standing seam metal roof for the front porch was recently installed, as well as the corrugated metal roof over the back stoop.  We love the way they look and love that we'll never have to replace them.  The stone for the front porch was also completed.  The kids enjoy jumping off the porch into the snow.  We're looking forward to warmer weather to enjoy it. Check out the pictures below.  

Passive House Database Listing

Our architect let us know that our Nordeast Nest is now listed in the official Passive House database.  That makes our home one of 47 in the United States and 5 in Minnesota to be listed.  Now people interested in building a high-efficiency home in Minnesota or similar climate can learn about the thermal envelope construction and resulting performance measurements, such as air tightness and heat load.  To get the final air tightness number, we had a second blower door test performed after we moved into the home. The first test was done when there was still a chance to find and seal any leaks (see blog entry "High Performance? Check!").  The outcome of the second test was even better than the first.  With the house pressurized to 50 Pa, there was only 0.36 air changes per hour (ACH), equivalent to 133 cubic feet per minute (CFM) at 50Pa.  

It's hard to believe that with such an air-tight home, we literally get a breath of fresh air when we walk into a room, thanks to the heat-recovery air-exchanger. We never expected our boys' bedroom to smell so fresh and clean.  It's definitely a treat to have fresh air throughout the year, even in the middle of a freezing cold MN winter. 

Check out the Passive House database entry for the Nordeast Nest here: