Building a house on Lakeside Court

Information about construction, energy, power, and conservation. Also including a time log of progress on the construction. (See what's new to track changes.) These pages are a guide for ourselves, our friends, but most importantly our architects and contractors. These pages are a history of our house building project as well as a working document on our plans and our questions that we need to resolve as we move forward. The energy and construction pages summarize what we have learned about how to build a house that is as carbon neutral as we can make it. They are meant as a resource to others who share our concerns about the need to reduce our nation's reliance on fossil fuels and are interested in building energy efficient houses.



The Department of Energy has an excel data sheet that may be downloaded as well as an online rating of the energy efficiency of appliances (refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers) that meet ENERGYSTAR standards. They also discuss appliances not labeled by ENERGY STAR. "it is always important to consider energy efficiency when purchasing any appliance. The Department of Energy offers guidelines and tips on purchasing Clothes Dryers, Ovens, Ranges, and Water Heaters.ΚΚ Also, be sure to read the FTC's "EnergyGuide to Major Home Appliances" for general information about shopping for an energy-efficient appliance."

In addition, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has a web page discussing the relative efficiencies of furnaces, boilers and most efficient appliances.


The Department of Energy has an excel data sheet as well as an online rating of the energy efficiency of appliances that meet ENERGYSTAR standards including refrigerators,and dishwashers. Bottom Freezer configurations seem to be medium efficiency for size (top Freezers are most efficient, side by side least efficient), and are about 501-520 in annual KWH consumption. Side by Sides range upward from 568 as size increases.

Design considerations seem to suggest the wide but shallow models produced by Sub-Zero. The only sub-zero that is energystar compliant is the 650. A Sub zero distributer is available at Oakton Distributers at 780 Lively Boulevard Elk Grove Village, IL 60007. They seem to be a wholesale distributer, but have a showroom with Subzero, Thermador, Franke, Gaggenau, Broan, ULine. etc. They are changing the lines they carry and are less than friendly. Sub-zeros may also be seen at ABT electronics. The tradeoff here is between design considerations and energy efficiency. We need to explore if there are equivalents to a sub-zero in terms of design constraints that are more energy efficient.


Asko, Viking, and Fisher Paykel seem to be among most energy efficient among the 262 types of dishwashers that are rated energystar compliant. When using just one drawer of their two drawer system, Fisher Paykel is very efficient. However, the clear winner is Asko which uses 340 KWH/year. Note that the Asko page includes energy comparisons with the other top of the line dishwashers! The median for all energy star dishwashers is about 530 KWH. Asko's N. Illinois dealer is O'Rourke Tollfree: 800-523-4730 Local: 800-523-4730. (It seems from the DOE table that Viking sells an Asko DVUD 141 as their product.)

Clothes washers

There are 72 models of clothes washers that meet energy star requirements. A primary consideration seems to be that side loading washers are roughly twice as efficient as top loading ones. It is claimed that they are also better for the clothes.


Because circulating air increases evaporation from the skin, ceiling fans may be used to increase comfort without using airconditioning, or allow one to reduce the amount of air conditioning. Ceiling fans no longer need to be ugly. Modern fans are available from various dealers in Illinois. The effect of a ceiling fan on comfort is discussed by an article in home energy. A recent developmment in fan design is found in the Gossamer II fan. An article describing its development may be found at Environmental Building News. An analysis of its effectiveness is given by its developer at Florida Solar Energy Center at the University of Central Florida. (They have a section devoted to Zero Energy Houses as well. ) Another article describing the fan notes its effeciency and also notes that it does not reverse direction. The electric motor of this fan is roughly as ineffecient as other fan motors and the difference is that the fan drives more air/watt. It also comes with a dimmable florescent bulb.

(It is interesting to note that a local electrical supply store was extraordinairely uncomplimentary about this fan. One suspects that this is due to the low price and higher energy output of this fan compared to the ones they carry.)

Kitchen Design and Bathroom considerations

  • Kitchens
    • Kitchen design information is available from many sources, both on the web and in design stores. Kitchen styles differ drastically and part of the difficulty is finding designs that match our tastes. Although we have made many of these decisions already, it might be useful for others to consider some alternative kitchen layouts. An interesting questionnaire is available that forces one to think about the basic design issues. Advice for choosing a kitchen consultant suggests things to look for in designers.
    • Our style of cooking is to have two people in the kitchen, a primary chef and her dutiful assistant. This suggests two separate work areas and thus two sinks, one for prep, one for cleanup. Examples of clean design may be found at Siematic kitchens. They have both metal, wood, and laminate finishes. A local dealer is DeGuilo in Wilmette. A guide to multiple brands of kitchen cabinetry is available from a Texas design group. Among the brands they recommend is Snaidero, an Italian design company with dealers at the Merchandise Mart. (Italian designed furniture, doors, and closets are all found in links from this page.)
    • Kohler is among the many makers of sinks and faucets. They seem to have bought out the Carnac kitchen cabinetry group.
  • Bathrooms
    • Dual level flush toilets are common in Australia and are available for import to the states. The Caroma toilet is at least one example. For an evaluation of this toilet and others see a page by Terry Love (who also seems to have a mail order toilet business.) Caroma has distributers in Illinois (L. W. Paul Supply in Worth). In addition to having a page discussing water conservation, the Athena corporation sells an adapter handle for existing toilets to provide dual level flushing. A Malaysian page has a tutorial on dual mode flushing.
  • other sites worth visiting -- not yet categorized

version of August 20, 2002
As is true of all web pages, this is part of a constantly growing set of pages. If working off of a printed copy, it is useful to look at the date of the last version. As changes are added to the various pages on, the "What's New" page will track changes.
Prepared by William Revelle. Comments to W. Revelle