Northwest Energy Star Super-Efficient Homesó#1: The Inspiration Home

Posted by Neil Grigsby on November 15, 2012
Northwest Energy Star Super-Efficient Homesó#1: The Inspiration Home
The Inspiration Home in-progress.

The Inspiration Home in Olympia, Washington, is one of six super energy-efficient homes being highlighted this year by Northwest Energy Star Homes—in collaboration with builders, utilities and homeowners—to increase awareness and usage of advanced building practices and products that can improve quality, comfort, and energy efficiency in new homes.

We will be sharing details of the other homes in the weeks to come!

The Builder Sets the Stage

“When we first started looking at houses, energy efficiency was on our minds although it wasn’t something we were specifically looking for,” said Pat Bayle, owner of The Inspiration Home. But when Bayle and his wife Cheryl talked to builder Scott Bergford, they started to get excited about incorporating into their home some of the energy-efficiency features Bergford encouraged them to think about.

“Most house-hunters focus on the hard costs of the house and the land,” says Bergford, the owner of Scott Homes. “When it’s really the long term cost of living in the home that’s the big budget item over time. What are the costs of maintenance, heating and cooling? Those are the questions you want to ask.”

Bergford’s answer is to counsel his customers to invest in energy-efficiency products and technologies that are proven to make a difference in reducing cost of ownership and providing a healthier and more comfortable home—one that is both beautiful and affordable.

The Inspiration Home is the result.

Combining Energy Efficiency and Aesthetics

The two-story 2,020 ft2 Craftsman has an authentic 1920s look and feel. The three-bedroom, two-bath home features period-appropriate custom wainscoting and columns, reclaimed hardwoods and many built-ins.

Less visible in this bungalow are its energy-saving features: a ductless heating and cooling system, a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), structurally insulated panels (SIPs), a solar water heating system and solar photovoltaics—all of which adds up to a truly energy-efficient home. In fact, The Inspiration Home is expected to cost an average of $15 per month to heat.

Key Technologies Make the Difference

For example, all of Bergford’s homes incorporate SIP construction. SIPs are prefabricated oriented strand board wall panels that have a closed-cell foam core. Strongv and highly energy-efficient, SIPs have the added benefit of creating a tight, quiet and extremely comfortable home interior.

Bergford also routinely incorporates ductless heating and cooling systems because they require less material, save on space by eliminating the need for ductwork, contribute to cleaner indoor-air, and are one of the most energy-efficient residential options available today. The Regional Technical Forum’s (RTF) provisionally deemed energy savings estimates that a ductless heating and cooling system in a single-family home with zonal electric heat saves 3,500 kWh annually. Using an average cost/kWh in the Northwest ($0.08), upgrading to a ductless heating and cooling system as a primary heat source can save approximately $280 per year. He also recommends heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) to ensure that his homes have a constant source of fresh, clean air while also reducing energy costs.

The property includes a 336 ftloft and a two-car garage under the house that is part of the basement. Bergford and his team sealed it from the house and added ventilation that’s tied to the garage door opener so it exhausts the fumes.

Certifiably Efficient

Working with Scott Homes, the Bayles got the home they wanted: gorgeous, comfortable, and highly energy-efficient. It’s certified for Energy Star for Homes, the EPA Indoor airPlus program, and Built Green Level 5, the highest level available. The bonus? A home that is cozy and quiet, with the promise of less maintenance and lower energy bills for years to come.

To learn more about this project, please visit

To view other super-efficient-homes across the Northwest, including Scott Homes’ Inspiration Home, visit:


Neil Grigsby oversees NEEA’s Northwest Energy Star Homes initiative, which encourages builders across the region to build more efficient homes using new technologies and building practices. He transitioned to NEEA from Tacoma Power, where he implemented residential programs as an Energy Specialist for five years. His experience includes a degree in urban studies from the University of Washington, and in designing, planning, and implementing energy-efficiency programs along with public outreach and education. 

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