Houses that Care for People and the Planet

Habitat for Humanity is committed to building homes that people can afford to live in comfortably.

Published October 30, 2023

Pushing the Envelope in Energy-Efficiency

Habitat for Humanity is best known for helping people who may never have a chance to own a home realize this dream. People may not know that this organization is often at the forefront of the latest building techniques and technologies. Many affiliates across the USA have instituted some of the most aggressive insulation, air sealing, and highly efficient HVAC systems appropriate for their climate zones. Here locally, Pikes Peak Habitat has embarked on a journey to keep people's utility bills as low as possible, thus helping ensure these folks can afford to live in these homes for the long haul.

The Foundation of Building Science

Pikes Peak Habitat has developed a cost-effective way to incorporate one of the most efficient building envelopes being constructed in the region using a unique foundation system that effectively functions at a continuous R-20. The walls integrate exterior R-5 foam board with R-21 bats, R-60 attic systems, and better than code .28 U values windows. Their volunteers have also learned about advanced air sealing and do an outstanding job getting these houses well below the required code of 3 ACH@50.


Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity Home Owners

Making the Most of Utility Rebates

Pikes Peak Habitat has also moved to building houses in an all-electric model. Many utilities now actively encourage this move and are heavily incentivizing builders to develop creative solutions to electrify their homes. Colorado Springs Utilities will rebate up to $ 3,500 per house for not hooking a natural gas line and installing efficient heat pump equipment. Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy also have programs to assist builders looking at this approach to space conditioning. Heat pumps have come a long way in the past few years and can easily handle heating loads to the coldest temperatures here in Colorado if the house and systems are designed carefully. Another benefit of Pikes Peak Habitat's homes is that the total energy consumption from plug-loads to space conditioning and water heating will now be offset by a relatively modest photo-voltaic system of about 5kWh. PV will significantly reduce the utility bills a homeowner will pay over the home's life.

Welcome Home

Pikes Peak Habitat is leading the way in constructing buildings and helping homeowners realize actual monetary savings through features that are thoughtfully built into each home. This process starts in the early planning and design of houses and translates into more people being able to realize the dream of home ownership.

About the Author
Phil Drotar

Phil Drotar

Phil Drotar has been in the building science and energy efficiency world for over 10 years. Phil has been involved in homes and buildings since he started remodeling and turning rental units as a kid, quickly moving to superintendent jobs, trade work and warranty work with a large national builder. Read more about Phil here.

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