We’ve officially wrapped up our 2011 Green Home Giveaway. Presented by Alabama Power, our third annual green home makeover was our biggest giveaway yet. After receiving more than 150 entries we narrowed it down to just three finalists, and then let the public vote for the winning home. After an overwhelming amount of votes, the 2011 Green Home Giveaway went to Jason Harlos and Laura Kate Whitney, homeowners of a historic bungalow in Crestwood North, one of Birmingham’s oldest neighborhoods.
Harlos and Whitney purchased the home in 2009, and spent the better part of the following year renovating the house and making it their own. “We love our home. Just like Birmingham, she’s a little rough around the edges, says Whitney. She says they’ve worked hard however, and over time, they’ve brought her back to life after “years of neglect.” Yet, in the end, the bungalow still lacked the benefits of modern energy efficiency, and other green, more sustainable aspects.
The process began with an energy audit performed by Jonathan Handey of Eco-Three, who described the quantity of air infiltration in the home, as the largest amount they’ve seen to date! “Our number one mission is to help make homes more efficient, comfortable, and safe,” says Handey. “We want homeowners to realize that it should not cost a fortune to make a home more energy efficient. Despite this home’s poor energy evaluation, Eco-Three felt confident they could help make some significant improvements. They shared their evaluation with other Green Home Giveaway sponsors, who were then also able to make recommendations for equipment and upgrades, based on the audit’s findings.
The Harlos-Whitney home received the much needed proper air sealing, and from Energy Guard, energy rated storm windows and caulking to help reduce air filtration. New insulation was installed throughout, and sponsor’s Mingeldorff’s and Guin brought in more energy efficient HVAC equipment, including a new programmable thermostat. They installed two SEER Mitsubishi HVAC systems to help heat and cool separate areas of the house. Mingeldorff and Guin worked hand in hand with Green Home Giveaway sponsors, Alabama Power, Ferguson Enterprises and A.O. Smith, to set up a new hybrid electric heat pump water heater and system. According to Guin, the homeowners should see an estimate of $500 in annual savings after installing the HVAC upgrades.
Alternate Power Source performed an electrical service upgrade, and Allsouth Appliance contributed a new Energy Star dishwasher, which for Whitney was one of the giveaway’s best features. “We were badly in need of such modern-day equipment, for our old dishwasher had declared itself useless and no longer did anything that resembled clean.” Combined, all of these additions help provide a more efficient, comfortable, and safer home for the Harlos-Whitney family.
The green home makeover also featured outside renovations geared toward the home’s landscaping. “The front of our home is a place we haven’t really been able to focus on because we’ve been working so hard on the inside,” explains Whitney, who says prior to the makeover, there wasn’t any green grass, mature shrubbery, or many plantings of any kind. “Just like the interior of this house, her exterior was gloomy and ignored.” Green Home Makeover sponsors, Portera Landscape Design and Nature’s Tap helped the couple bring life back to their home’s grounds however, by implementing a whole new sustainable landscape design. Portera provided a great variety of new shrubs, annuals, herbs, and even a new tea olive tree. Nature’s Tap installed a new rain barrel, meant to sustain the new plantings, and help the couple reduce their water usage. “It’s now so inviting and so charming,” says Whitney about their landscape and design.
Of course, a green home makeover wouldn’t be complete without incorporating a few eco-friendly additions to the home’s interior decor as well. Our winners received brand new industrial-style lighting fixtures provided by Mayer Lighting. “When we renovated the kitchen, we used every penny of our budget, so the existing (not-too-bad-but-not-too-lovely) pendant lights had to stay,” says Whitney. “And with LED bulbs casting a nice glow, we know we’re saving energy and we’re doing so in style!” Sawyer Vinson Art Build provided a one of a kind, hand-crafted living room table. Constructed with salvaged wood taken from Day Street in Montgomery, Alabama, Whitney says the table blends in perfectly with their existing living room furniture.
All in all, the 2011 Green Home Giveaway was a huge success. My Green Birmingham is beyond thankful for the incredible donation of time, support and materials provided to our winners by the generous nature of the giveaway’s awesome sponsors. Whitney says, “we’re so very grateful for all their generosity and hard work, and are looking forward to a future of lower utility bills! When it really comes down to it, the Harlos -Whitney family aren’t that different from many other Birmingham families who also want to make their home more efficient and comfortable, while also working to create a better future for our environment. Whitney says, “sustainability and green living is more than just smart-living. It’s good looking, too!”
We wish we could have given each of our finalists a green home makeover – they were all very deserving. Our other two finalist homes received an energy audit from Eco Three and some goodies from MyGreenBirmingham.com.
For complete coverage of the My Green Birmingham Green Home Giveaway, see the spring 2012 issue of Birmingham Home and Garden magazine!
Written by Kate Agliata
(Photos courtesy of LK Whitney)