Leavenworth couple’s first home is a first for the PUD, too
Congratulations to Jordan and Lyndsay Mynatt who just moved into their home in Leavenworth. It’s their first new home – and they’re the first new-home builders to take advantage of Chelan PUD’s $2,000 rebate for extra-efficient construction.
Concern for the environment drove the house plan, they said. They started with their own small-footprint design, then worked with Megan Kramer, a certified Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rater, who helped analyze and project the home’s energy use.
Megan identified small changes that would hoist the home above building code standards and allow it to qualify for the PUD’s new construction program. Homes must be 20% more efficient than energy codes require.
Jordan, an engineer, contractor and mountain guide, and Lyndsay, an environmental policy advocate, said they were encouraged to find their PUD supporting efforts to use resources wisely.
Their home is built on a square footprint, 24’ x 24’. It features a 200-square-foot office loft that doubles as a guest room. There is one main bedroom and bathroom.
Jordan said the key to the home’s efficiency is the improved “envelope.” He used Zip System Wall Sheathing with an R10 insulation factor plus an air seal barrier, and an R23 rock wool insulation in the traditional 2 x 6 wall construction. The home’s blower-door test showed air tightness was more than three times better than what is required in the building code.
A single, high-efficiency ductless heat pump provides heat (and cooling, come summer), along with a woodstove. On the coldest nights, Jordan said he fires up the woodstove for the “instant gratification” of radiant heat. The ductless unit is quiet and efficient, but in snowy Leavenworth – the home is on Deep Powder Lane – the ductless heat pump takes more time to warm things up, he said.
“When we were doing construction and I had it set (to come on at certain times), it worked really well. Now that we’re actually living there, and we sit down in the evening and it’s cold outside, we want it a little warmer. I need to get the kinks worked out in how to manage that.”
They rely on a bathroom fan for air movement. In a bigger home – their next home, Jordan said – they’ll install a Heat Recovery Ventilation system.
A bigger home nearby is the ultimate goal. “The whole plan was to keep the square footage really small because that’s all we need right now.” Add a couple of kids, though, and this small home may seem even smaller.
The couple considered a heat pump water heater but were concerned about the noise level in such a small space. They opted for a standard electric 50-gallon tank instead.
All lights in the home are LED bulbs or fixtures, and all appliances meet Energy Star requirements. The home is Energy Star and HERS rated.
Jordan hopes to be able to add solar to the south-facing roof to make it a net zero energy user.
“It’s been fun to be part of the process” of vetting the PUD’s new program, he said. “I really support what the PUD is doing.”
Josh Mitchell, Chelan PUD residential energy adviser, emphasized that the best time to upgrade your home’s efficiency is when you’re building it.
Prospective homebuilders can call Josh for more information at (509) 661-4380 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.