Power House of Energy Efficiency
An Elan home control system and a 14-kW solar array help achieve record energy efficiencies.
June 09, 2011 by Steven Castle

It’s one of the most energy-efficient and green homes in the United States, but some of its high-tech energy-saving features would not be possible without a full-blasted home control system from Elan Home Systems.

The “Power Haus” in Sarasota, Fla., claims the lowest HERS (Home Energy Rating System) score in the United States, a negative 22, which means the house produces more energy than it uses. (A score of zero means it produces all its own energy.) The house also scored 118 LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) points, making it one of the highest-scoring LEED homes in the country.

A large part of making the home so energy-efficient was the green building techniques of custom homebuilder Josh Wynne, president of Josh Wynne Construction. Wynne filled the walls with super-efficient foam insulation, coated the topside of the interior’s elegant tongue-and-groove ceiling with spray foam insulation and installed a Uni-Solar Flex-Lite solar array that covers more than half of the roof and produces 14.2 kilowatts of electricity. Because so much energy is produced, the homeowners can sell power back to their electrical company.

Efficiency Through Simplicity

Managing many of the home’s energy-saving systems, such as the LED (light emitting diode) lamps and the state-of-the-art heating and cooling systems is the IP-based ELAN g! Home Control System. The system also controls the security, surveillance, whole-house audio/video and pool and spa from the owner’s iPad, iPhones and Elan in-wall touchscreens.

The Elan system was installed by of Sarasota-based SmartHouse Integration and given the stamp of approval by builder Wynne. “Not all of my clients are super tech-savvy, and neither am I, so I like things that are simple and reliable,” said Wynne.

Wynne also knew that all the technology in the home needed to be tied together in a simple, convenient way for the homeowners to control and manage. “Simplicity was the key with the homeowners,” says SmartHouse Integration president Mark van den Broek.

Controlling Efficiencies

Important efficiencies are also gained by tying home systems together. The lighting, HVAC and security systems have occupancy sensing so when the owners arm the system and leave the house, the home goes into a low-energy “Away” mode. It’s like putting a computer to sleep, only you’re doing it to the whole house.

“You can tie the systems together, but we’re tuning it so they speak to each other and react to the programming we designed,” van den Broek says. “When the security talks to lighting system and the pool, and we write programs that make all that efficiency possible, that’s when it really, really starts to save energy.”

Even a dehumidification system—vital in Florida—is operated and automated by the Elan g! system. SmartHouse also provided the homeowners quick access to the Uni-Solar web portal where they can check on the solar system’s electricity production. This is available on the two Elan TS7 7-inch touchpanels and three TS2 2-inch in-wall touchpads. (They can view the solar system’s web portal via Internet on their iPad and two iPhones.) The owners also can check their own electricity consumption via the Elan g! system’s running history of the power used by everything on its network.

Plenty of Entertainment, Too

With six flat-panel indoor HDTVs and another on the deck, the Power Haus is no slouch in the media department. To complement the video system, 14 speakers are distributed through eight audio zones, including two outdoor rock speakers. The media systems can play content from three DirecTV feeds, two Blu-ray players, XM satellite radio, Pandora Internet radio, AM/FM radio and an Elan VIA!migo iPod dock.

Water Saving Features

Lest we forget, the Power Haus also saves water, which is important in many regions. As Jetson Green reports:

Landscape irrigation is eliminated through the use of a native and drought tolerant plant palate. Rainwater is captured from 100 percent of the roof area and feeds a 6,000 [gallon] cistern for future interior use (once the code catches up and allows filtered rainwater at the tap) and is currently used within the horse stables. Interior water use is reduced through low-flow fixtures and dual-flush toilets fed with gray water (the water from sinks, tubs and appliances).

And Much More

The Elan g! Home Control System is integrated with the home’s five DVR surveillance cameras, DSC security system, LiteTouch lighting system that dims the home’s 100 percent indoor and outdoor LED lighting, Bryant HVAC and Pentair Pool/Spa controls. The home is fully outfitted with Energy Star appliances, and the super-efficient core systems include Carrier Infinity HVAC system and Eternal tankless water heater.

 

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Steven Castle - Contributing Writer
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates.

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