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New house offers beautiful utilities
Super-green house is built to be energy-efficient, lower bills.
  •    Robert Kelly
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
  • October 10, 2008
  • Section: Business
  • Edition: Third Edition
  • Page B6

KIMMSWICK • In today’s gloomy real estate market, Jordan Heiman thinks he knows how to make housing a more attractive buy.

Just take a look at the utility bills for the prototype highly energy-efficient new house he and his partners have built at Kimmswick.

For four straight months starting in June, when Heiman’s daughter and son-in-law moved into the house, its utility bills have been the lowest among all houses in the new Parc at Kimmswick subdivision. The utilities have averaged about $76 a month throughout the hot summer months, or nearly half of the monthly average for utilities paid by homeowners in similarsized

houses in the subdivision.

“Attention to detail is what makes the difference, I think,” said Heiman, a spry 83-year-old retired engineer who worked for Intertherm Inc., a manufacturer of heating and cooling products.

And he’s happy to point out the house’s energy-saving details, including:

•A ground-source heat pump that draws cool air from underground pipes buried deep below the basement, in lieu of a traditional air-conditioning system.

•Insulated windows with fiberglas frames that expand and contract at the same rate as the window glass to stop air leakage around the frames.

•A foyer with inside doors to cut off drafts from the outside.

•Low-wattage flourescent bulbs in all light fixtures.

•Low-flow faucets in all sinks, tubs and showers.

•Rain barrels at all outside downspouts to catch water to use on the lawns and plants during dry periods.

Even the concrete used to build the walkways outside the house was mixed with energy savings in mind, Heiman said. The concrete has a white tint, because fly ash was added to the mix to make it more reflective. That reflects heat back into the environment and keeps the walkways cooler, he said.

Heiman, who lives in Olivette, said he decided several years ago that he wanted to build a house to demonstrate his belief that wasteful, sometimes shoddy construction deters people from buying certain houses and drives up heating and cooling costs. It took him a while to find a suitable location and partners and builders.

Everything fell into place about two years ago, he said, and construction started in December 2006 on the house on Montesano Park Drive in Kimmswick. The house was completed early this year.

Heiman organized a company called Applied Energy Solutions LLC, to design and build the house. Architect Greg Polanik was the principal designer.

Heiman says it costs more - maybe 15 to 20 percent more - to build such an energy-efficient house because of the quality and strength of the materials needed and the extra work required, as in burying the cooling pipes below the basement, for example. But the savings in utility bills should more than make up the cost difference for anyone planning to stay in such a house for at least four or five years, he said.

The listed price on the house he and his partners built at Kimmswick is $400,000, which is about $50,000 to $60,000 more than most of the other high-end houses in the subdivision were selling for.

Heiman conceded that there has not been a large market for extremely energy-efficient houses, in part because of the price. But he said he expected that market to grow as more consumers see the savings they can have over time and understand how they'd be helping the environment at the same time.

The house already has been recognized with two awards for energy conservation and environmental design. It was certified as Energy Star 5 Plus by the U.S. Department of Energy, and also as a LEED-Homes Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED.

Heiman said only four houses throughout Missouri have received the same certifications.

Heiman's daughter, Jill Crary, and her husband, Don, have lived in the house since moving to the area from San Diego in June.

"Dad's goal from the very beginning was to get this house the highest possible energy-efficient rating," Jill Crary said. "He chose Kimmswick because no other 'green home' had been built out here."

She said she and her husband have been thrilled with the utility bills at the two-story house, which has nearly 2,900 square feet of living space, three bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths.

Even so, the Crarys hope to move closer to Jill's parents in Olivette, and they have plans to sell the house they call "Kimmswick 1." Houses in the subdivision recently have sold for $350,000 and up.

More information about the house is available online at or by calling 636-467-8211.


Electricity-Cost Comparison


Kimmswick house Avg house

June $78 $122

July $75 $173

August $74 $135

Sept. $65 $117

Source: Ameren Services



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