Benefits of an All-Electric Energy Efficient Home

At times it is difficult to quantify in the simplest terms the value in our building process and the materials that make a high performing energy efficient home. One of the reasons why the value is hard to communicate is because we are building by way of the future. Municipal building codes are moving towards higher efficiency standards but we are still leaps and bounds ahead of what is required so it falls on our shoulders to not only educate the potential homeowner but the real estate agent. For it would be a shame if someone bought this house and didn’t understand how all the systems come together to achieve energy efficiency and the highest level of occupant health and comfort. The ideal homeowner will take pride in living in a LEED Platinum Certified home that not only is good for the environment while enjoying the latest technology and a healthy/comfortable lifestyle.

It is our hope that the below infographic helps the common person to understand and value an all electric energy efficient home. We’ve also included Green Energy Details below with links to the actual product websites.


Thermal Comfort / High Performance – Targeting HERS score of below 35.

Structurally Insulated Panels. The home is built with pre-fabricated wall panels that consist of an insulated foam core sandwiched between OSB. The thermal envelope of the walls and roof are continuous insulation and allow for an extremely airtight building envelope.

All Electric Home. All electric appliances, water heaters and HVAC system. The use of clean energy eliminates to the risk of air pollution from gas appliances and dependency on fossil fuels and lower utility bills offset by the building integrated roof top solar panels.

Renewable Energy
Solar Panels.
Mia Sole architectural, high efficiency building integrated 3.0KW array.

High Performance Windows. Alpen High Performance Products manufactures super-insulating, thermally efficient residential windows utilizing three decades of experience incorporating lightweight, suspended-film technology. Tilt-Turn windows with German hardware and single hung windows are utilized in the house. Made in Colorado with local support and services.

Enhanced Indoor Air Quality
Heat and Energy Recovery System (ERV)
. by Zehnder for high-performance buildings. Provides the home with a comfortable, healthy and energy efficient indoor climate. The whole house heat recovery ventilation system works continuously to extract moist, stale air from wet rooms (kitchens, bathrooms and utility rooms) and supply fresh, filtered air to habitable rooms (bedrooms, living rooms, and dining rooms). Up to 90% of the heat in the extract air is recovered by the heat exchanger in the unit and used to heat the incoming fresh air. Allergy friendly, COVID compliant.

Optimized Energy Performance
All Electric Daikin Heat Pump & A/C System. An HVAC zoning solution for room-by-room comfort. The home is equipped with two Daikin Heat Pump outdoor units paired with five interior heads for a customizable zoned-system creating more consistent in-home temperature, humidity control and optimized air quality control.

Tankless Electric On-demand Water Heaters. These units last longer, use less energy, offer endless hot water. Three units are provided ensuring decreased pipe runs for instant hot-water at any location at any time.

Energy Star Appliances. Electric appliances tend to be more precise than gas ones. For example, having more control over your range or even the temperature of the water in your washing machine.

Low Emitting Materials

Natural Solid Wood Floors
NuCore Rigid Luxury Vinyl Plank Floors
Green Guard Rated Carpet
Low VOC Emitting Paint

Long Lasting and Durable Materials

Standing Seam Metal Roof
Brick Masonry Facade
Cementitious Siding

Outdoor Water Use Reduction
Professionally designed landscape. Plant selection includes Colorado native and adaptive species that requires no irrigation and includes artificial turf lawn and permeable paving.

Unique home features
Re-used existing concrete foundation and walls of the 1941 bungalow.
Re-used original brick from the demolition of the garage and house.


Final Framing, Insulation + Drywall

We passed electrical and plumbing inspections. The only thing holding us back was a few little framing projects that may seem tedious now but in the end will make the house feel custom and complete. Two framing projects Scott worked on was the fireplace feature that will also host built-in media shelving. The other was the framing for a built-in plaster range hood. The fireplace was easy but the range hood proved to be a battle since the hood needed to be ‘ventless’. The exhaust will instead be directed through the sides of the hood and outside through the home’s ERV (energy recovery system) system.

The house is built with Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs) so the exterior walls and the roof are already continuously insulated. Scott just needed to spray foam connecting seams followed by tape to ensure the home’s tight envelope. The insulation crew came in and spray foamed the basement and batted the rest of the interior walls.

Drywall quickly followed; loading in from the second floor balcony. Next up is floors and the ERV system install.

Brick and Exterior Siding

5 years ago Scott and I meticulously demoed our old 1-car garage (more the size of a shed) to save the brick for an eventual house renovation. The 80 year old brick is now in its final resting place. We left out the bricks that had a red tint to them and we turned the bricks around so that the smooth face was out instead of the textured face that used to collect dust. The result is a really clean but classic look.

Once the brick was done we covered up remaining pink waterproofing material with cementitious Hardie Board siding. In this neighborhood most new builds are gray and white stucco so we hope that people appreciate the quality of the materials and the craftmanship that it takes to build a solid home.

Enjoy the process images and media below.

Exterior Guardrails

Now that the exterior guardrails are up, our kids love to run around on the upstairs balcony off the master bedroom. The large Ash tree out front makes it feel like you are in a tree house. Although this is one small piece of the total build the metal railings made a big impact to the character and feeling of the house.

The process of sharing the technical drawings with fabricators to get bids was a reminder of how important it is to get three bids from every contractor. The same drawings came back with three different bids; $9k, $14k and $29k!…. Drastically differently prices with varying timelines and personalities. What is ironic is that we went with the lowest bid, they were able to get it done the fastest of the 3 and they turned out exactly how we wanted them.

Standing Seam Metal Roof

Standing seam metal roofs are far superior than any other roofing product out there. It is almost unfair to compare the metal roof with other materials and methods. For example, architectural shingles will wear down within 20 to 30 years. Metal roofs can go 50 to 70 years or more (2 to 3 times longer than asphalt shingles). Therefore the cost benefit of a standing seam roof is justified at 2 -3 times the cost of a shingle roof.

Benefits to a Standing Seam Roof:

  • unexposed seams make for less chance of moisture to seep below the roof line
  • energy efficient – metal roofing will allow inside of a home to be cooler in summer than asphalt shingles
  • metal roofing is 100% recyclable – whereas asphalt shingles are often destined for landfills by the metric ton annually
  • Return on investment (ROI) favors metal roofing, coming in at 87%, compared to architectural shingles that are between 70% and 80%
  • Metal will last longer than asphalt shingles, anywhere from twice to three times as long
  • Metal weighs less than asphalt shingles
  • And metal is mildew and fire resistant, plus impervious to insects and animals

As always we documented the roofing process through video and images. It took 3 weeks (compared to 1-2 days for shingle install) to install the roof making the case that the roof is another craftsman trade of many in this house build.

High Performance Windows and Doors

Alpen windows are made in Louisville, Colorado with local support and services. They operate as European tilt-turn style and single hung windows with German hardware. These residential windows are the highest quality with super-insulating and thermally efficient construction. Utilizing three decades of experience to incorporate lightweight, suspended-film technology that eliminate air drafts and contribute to the home’s favorable R-value and low HERS score. We have used them for 4-years now in the back Tandem House and could not be more happy with them. They are easy to operate, they are strong (not chintzy) and are always a topic of conversation when people come over.

Exterior doors are Pella fiberglass. Pella is known to be stylish but also for their easy maintenance, energy efficiency and ability to stand up to extreme weather. We are happy with the decorative glass features on the front door side-lites and balcony door that give the home a custom and classic feel.

Pink House – Weatherproofing Membrane

Our daughter’s pink doll house is more cute than the likes of Tandem House these days but the vibrant color does mark another milestone as the house is nearly dried in.

This method of weatherproofing the house is very different than the typical polyolefin wrap that goes us in a day and leaves a lot of room for error during install. Scott is very particular not to hire out this weatherproofing stage since it is so important to achieving the home’s tight envelope making it truly an energy saving green home.

By using a liquid applied ‘wrap’ it fills all joints and seams creating a waterproof and air tight wall assembly sealing all penetrations and gaps. The liquid membrane improves the building durability by protecting the home against damaging wind and rain. Its also another component in improving the home’s R-value. With better insulating properties it helps to reduce home energy usage and allowing the HVAC system to work more efficiently.

Filling Facade Joints and Seams: All the transitions between the SIPs are filled with a pink R-guard adhesive.

Liquid Flashing:  At every window and door rough opening a red ‘fast flash’ R-guard liquid is applied.

Liquid Weatherproof Membrane: A pink liquid weatherproof membrane is roller applied to the entire exterior façade.

We used all the same waterproofing practices with Tandem House 1 which is documented here.

Front Porch and Balcony

There are so many different ways to build a porch. Since the house is modeled after the traditional Denver Square home we knew it needed to have the classic brick porch with columns. With that, we had the concrete contractor frame and pour walls and once the forms were stripped Scott was able to backfill and compact the void. Then the concrete contractor was back to pour the top concrete slab. Note that the concrete formwork left voids in the concrete that created the space for the eventual brick façade to rest.

The process would actually be a lot quicker if we hired someone to do everything (including the backfill and compaction). But we have found in the past that if you leave everything to the contractor they don’t seem to have the conviction that we have. For instance they might have backfilled but would have been lazy on the dirt compaction end. If the dirt isn’t compacted with the right backfill (dirt with less air gaps) the top slab will be compromised and prone to cracking. We learned this the hard way with Tandem House 1 (the back house) and are committed to ensuring that everything is done correctly the first time on this house.

Scott using the mini excavator to backfill the porch
Compacting between backfilling

I was surprised when Scott said that he was going to tackle framing the balcony project alone. In all honesty he had no choice because the guys that helped with interior framing picked up and moved to Steamboat, CO. We were bummed at first but having Scott do it not only saves us money but ensures that it is done right. Sometimes I forget what he is capable of because he makes it look easy; from surveying, ordering lumber and getting fabricated metal columns, he does it all (with very little help from me)!

10-Day SIP Install

There are a plenty of sustainability and efficiency benefits to SIP Panel construction that we have outlined in our previous tandem house 1 blog post. After living in a SIP house for 3 years we can attest that the savings in energy bills and the health benefits to our family seem like good enough justification for this progressive building practice. But perhaps even stronger arguments are the strength as well as the speed and ease of construction. When installation week arrived for Tandem House 1 it was exciting and it was no different with Tandem House 2. The SIPs arrived on-site in early December and were installed in 10-days (including the roof).

A SIP install timelapse is a must so here you go!

One Man Show

The basement and first floor is framed just in time for colder weather. Scott completed this step on his own. If we were in a rush he probably would have hired someone to help out, but due to delayed manufacturing of the SIPs (arriving in mid-November) there was no rush in getting this step done. Though from the time-lapse below it appears that Scott was pretty darn efficient.

Images show the voids cutout from the existing concrete foundation walls to make way for larger windows, the new side entry and egress window. Cheek walls were framed on top of the foundation walls to make the basement ceiling height taller. Then structural walls were framed, stair headers built and OSB glued and nailed down for the first floor.

While we wait for the SIP install, we’ve started building the one-car garage off the alley and the new sewer line is set to be installed in a few weeks.