World Record for The Tightest Home

Jun, 11 2013 21:06
World Record for The Tightest Home

When homeowners discuss how “tight” their home is, they’re not referring to their newest flat screen TVs or their extra large snooker tables.  In the world of energy efficiency, how “tight” a home is refers to how much air leakage there is in a home.  The tighter the home, the less air leakage.  Hence, the tighter the better.  This is because more air leakage leads to higher energy usage to maintain a comfortable temperature in the home.

Award for Tightest Residential Building

In early 2013, the World Record Academy travelled to Dillingham, Alaska to award homeowners Dr. Tom Marsik and Kristin Donalson with the award for the Tightest Residential Building.  The Academy used a blower door test to pressurize the building, and measure the airflow needed to maintain the difference between the pressure outside and inside.

 Marsik and Donalson designed and built the home starting in 2010, and continue to live there today.  They spent almost $170,000 on construction, with $20,000 of that going toward extra insulation.  Triple-pane windows with argon frames were included in the construction.  Marsik and Donalson also installed Energy Star appliances, use CFLs for all their lighting, and installed low-flow plumbing fixtures to minimize water waste. 

All this in a two bedroom, one bathroom, 600 square foot home with 28 inch thick exterior walls.  In quarters this close, and given how tight the home was built, internal heat gains provide most of the heat for the home. These include lighting, appliances and body heat.  

Modeled After the Passive Office

Given their respective fields, Marsik, who is an assistant professor of sustainable energy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), and his wife Donalson, who is a sustainable energy advocate, had a personal interest in completing this project and attempting to set a record for energy efficiency.  The couple modeled the design of the home to mirror those of an experimental structure at the UAF’s Bristol Bay Campus known as the Passive Office. 

Requires Only 35 Gallons of Heating Oil Per Year

Using the advanced building techniques of the Passive Office, and with all of the energy efficiency steps taken to keep the house tight, the home only requires 35 gallons of heating oil per year to make up the difference between the heat the home generates with internal heat gains, and the heat needed.  As a result, the Marsik and Donalson expect to save $4000 per year in energy costs. 

While most of us aren’t gunning for the title of World’s Tightest House, we can all follow this couple’s lead and take small steps towards energy efficiency that will make a big difference.