Energy efficient home first of its kind in Prince Albert

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February 7, 2017 - 12:00am Updated: February 7, 2017 - 5:22pm

The modern and contemporary style of this newly built home isn’t the only thing unique about it. 

In the coming months, the Saskatchewan government will update or adopt new building codes that will improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Prince Albert home builder Miller Contracting’s General Manager Dan Yungwirth said home builders will have to meet specific targets for energy efficiency. 

“We have to rethink how we build a house…simple as that,” said Yungwirth.

His company, Miller Contracting, has put itself at the forefront of the developments. They built Prince Albert’s first ENERGY STAR qualified home located at 3120 Lakeview Drive.

“Buildings and houses in Canada account for a very significant portion of greenhouse gas emissions, so the government wants to focus on reducing that,” he said. “Having an ENERGY STAR rating means the house will be at least 20 per cent more energy efficient than a regular code-built home.”

To accomplish that, Yungwirth said he and his employees and subtrades have undergone additional training to understand how a house functions. He sits on the national committee for the Canadian Home Builders Association for technical research and is a member of the Saskatoon and Region Home Builders Association as well as the Prince Albert Construction Association. 

“Miller Contracting has been around since 1972.  Being in business this long allowed us to focus on understanding the technology of building a home.  We look at the energy efficiency but also the science itself,” Yungwirth explained.  “We truly believe that what’s behind the drywall is more important than what you see.”

Features of the 2,023 square foot, two-storey home include high-performance windows, LED lighting, ENERGY STAR black stainless steel appliances, a heat recovery ventilation system and efficient heating and cooling systems. Walls and ceilings are also insulated beyond what is required by the building code. According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, space heating accounts for over 60 per cent of residential energy use, making up a good proportion of energy bills. Having a tighter building envelope avoids the loss of air to the outside which means less energy use and a lower utility bill.

“It takes a lot of effort and thought to achieve that because as soon as someone puts a hole in the wall to vent something it becomes a potential area for air leakage and can cause problems down the road with condensation and mold,” said Yungwirth.

Prince Albert’s first ENERGY STAR rated home was insulated on the outside but also under the basement slab. Yungwirth said it was an extra step that yielded worthwhile results.

“It is actually quite amazing. People ask if there is radiant heat in the floor because they can feel the warmth.”

Cleaner indoor air also comes from having a really good seal to the building envelope and proper ventilation, which makes it ideal for people who suffer from allergies.

Installing ENERGY STAR qualifications to the home added a few extra days to the construction time, but it also allowed Miller Contracting to build better.  And, every home they build is inspected by a third party as part of their standard Holmes Approved Homes program.  Building scientists evaluate the home and use tools like thermographic cameras to detect air leakage or other potential issues.  That extra care has led to a stamp of approval by well-known Canadian contractor and TV host, Mike Holmes.  Miller Contracting is Prince Albert’s only ‘Holmes Approved’ builder.

For more information on Prince Albert’s first Energy Star rated home or Miller Contracting click here or visit them on Facebook, Instagram and on Twitter @MillerContract .

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