2012 Green Home Giveaway Makeover is Complete!

The makeover for the 2013 Green Home Giveaway, presented by Alabama Power, is now officially complete! This year’s winning home, a historic 1927 Crestwood North home. Homeowners Chris and Peggy Biga have watched their home go through some exciting transformations, and beginning to experience the many benefits of living in a greener, more energy efficient home.

Just in time for the start of spring, another Green Home Giveaway sponsor, Portera Landscape, tackled the Biga’s lawn and landscaping. With a mission to create a more sustainable front yard, Andy Portera aimed to incorporate several different, yet equally important elements in the final project for this home’s green transformation. (See below for before and after photos).

“In approaching the Biga landscape renovations, our goal was to make it beautiful, low maintenance and functional,” says Portera.

Beautiful–  To increase the curb appeal, Portera and his crew added different colors and textures such as Heuchera, Christmas fern and Sweetspire.  They also planted a host of perennials including:

  • Homestead verbena
  • Shasta daisy
  • Creeping phlox
  • Salvia
  • Cardinal flower

Low maintenance– An important factor of sustainability is to include the use of native plants in landscaping plans. Using plants that are well known to thrive in the local climate usually require very little maintenance. Portera recommends and planted the following native plants in the Biga’s yard:

  • Climbing hydrangea
  • Christmas fern
  • Carolina jessamine
  • Sweetspire.

Functional– Although beautifully designed yard certainly helps improve curb appeal, yet landscaping that serves multiple purposes can offer homeowners even greater benefits. Portera made sure to include a vegetable and herb garden in his planting, and included:

  • Thyme
  • Lavender
  • Oregano
  • Lettuce
  • Stevia
  • Rosemary

       Before                                                                                                                     After

In addition, Portera used all organic fertilizers including worm compost to improve soil, and made an effort to recycle and repurpose any of the original landscaping his crew removed. They transferred wintergreen boxwoods and decorative grasses for more continuity, and left the Biga’s shade trees and ground cover.

Portera says, “going forward this landscape will look great, take very little maintenance, and will put food on the table!”

We couldn’t think of a better outcome!

Mid February Update:

In the last two weeks, our team has already achieved a great deal. Eco-Three kicked off the makeover by performing a home energy evaluation to pinpoint the home’s specific inefficiencies. Standard Heating & Air came in next and have already installed an entirely new HVAC system located in the home’s attic. Here are some additional details about what’s been accomplished so far:

  • Home Energy Evaluation performed by Eco-Three (see HERE to learn more about this process, and check out Birmingham WISE to find out how to receive up to $750 in federally funded grant money toward home energy improvements!)
  • Installation of a new high efficiency Carrier Performance Series 13 SEER heat pump and fan coil with X-13 high efficiency blower motor. This will not replace, but accompany the existing unit, which is between an 8 SEER and 10 SEER, and will still be used in the home’s lower level.
  • All new duct work throughout the attic, all properly sealed and insulated
  • New ceiling vent holes to accommodate new duct work
  • Extra floor joists were installed by the homeowner so that the unit and attic floor could be elevated. This allows for enough height for the R40 insulation that will be installed by Eco-Three (and still be able to put down plywood for storage).
  • New Geo Spring Hybrid Water Heater made by GE (donated by Alabama Power and installed by Standard Heating & Air)
  • Programmable thermostat and Honeywell alarm system, provided and installed by Integrated Media Systems. (More details coming soon!).

Tyler Kime of Standard Heating & Air expects the Biga home to be more efficient in several ways.  The addition of a second HVAC system provides the home with a range of extra benefits, however it’s greatest impact will mean a higher level of comfort and efficiency throughout the entire home. In relation to this, Kime says, “the most important item is the new duct work that is properly sealed, properly insulated (R8), and designed correctly for the size unit and the layout of the home.” Prior to the makeover, the Biga’s had mentioned one of the greatest issues they experienced with their home was uneven heat distribution (hot in master bedroom and cold in another bedroom). “The new duct system has taken care of that,” Kime said. “Being comfortable and having even temperatures means saving money.”

Kime also talked about a new high efficiency heat pump, another upgrade installed in the Biga home that will add to the home’s level of comfort and overall efficiency. “With a proper duct system, this unit will heat and cool the home efficiently-especially compared to the old set up.  The new blower motor uses the equivalent of running a 60 watt light bulb.” He adds this is particularly beneficial if the homeowner wants to run the fan continuously and filter the air in the house.

Alabama Power delivered a new Geo Spring Hybrid Water Heater. GE’s new cutting edge appliance combines the technology of an energy-saving heat-pump with traditional electric elements. One of the most impressive features: it uses a fan to draw in heat from the surrounding air in order to heat a refrigerant, and then ultimately transfer that heat into a water tank. According to GE, this can reduce heating expenses by as much as 62%—a savings of $325 per year!

The new programmable thermostat offered and installed by Integrated Media Systems, will provide the Bigas with many benefits as well, including the most basic-the ease of accessible home energy management. Tim Brice, President of Integrated Media Systems, says another benefit of the programmable thermostat will be the savings generated based on pre-determined schedules for HVAC and lighting. He adds that the homeowners will also have the unique ability to have local control and remote access to all three systems installed in the home.

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