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It’s mid-December in Calgary and Guy and Laura Parson’s new Jayman Built home in Wolf Willow is illuminated with twinkling lights. They just moved; There are boxes everywhere, but her original, colorful art is hanging and her thriving plant jungle sits near the triple-glazed south-facing windows. Soft snowflakes are falling and the chill of winter is coming, but inside, this artistic and environmentally conscious couple is warm and cozy and toasting their decision to build a net-zero certified home.
“We wanted a super efficient house and this house is solid,” says Guy, a freelance cartoonist, graphic artist and college professor. “When it’s 20 degrees below zero, you don’t feel it.” The couple notes that even though they’ve only been in the house for a few weeks, the temperature has been consistent no matter where they are in the house. “I don’t like being hot and Guy doesn’t like being cold, so he’s perfect,” says Laura, a mortgage specialist and vice president who, like Guy, works from home.
“I have my office in one of the upstairs bedrooms and Guy has his office in the basement. So, it works very well,” says Laura, adding that the house, due to its tight construction structure and level of insulation (both the house deck and dual-core walls are equipped with R35-rated insulation , which is three times the insulation level of a normal home), it is very quiet.
“Houses are being built next to us and we can’t hear the construction until we open the door,” says Guy.
The couple purchased the Erica 20 model, a two-story, three-bedroom, nearly 1,700-square-foot home with a two-car garage. Knowing this was going to be their forever home, they added plenty of extras, including a triple-pane sliding glass door that leads to a spacious 20-foot-wide deck. They also finished the lower level, with 11-foot ceilings, a bar and recreation area, an office for Guy, and a bathroom.
Because they purchased a corner lot (a very intentional move since it has an unobstructed southern exposure, a useful component for maximizing the effectiveness of solar panels and also for passively heating a home), they were able to expand the two-car garage and are looking for We are looking forward to spring with landscaping. (They were three-time winners of the horticulture award with their garden creations at their previous home.)
The impetus for the move was multiple, starting with reducing energy costs and the desire to live in a more environmentally conscious home with a smaller footprint and designed with optimal flow and use of space.
They had tried to create a very energy-efficient home in their previous home in Royal Oak Estates, which they built in 2003, but couldn’t reach the level they wanted.
“We paid $900 a month for electricity and gas in that house. We put on a new roof, re-insulated, and replaced the windows, but we couldn’t get it close to net zero. We would have had to put a new shell on it and at 4,000 square feet there was a lot of wasted space for the two of us,” says Guy, who has been researching net-zero homes for a few years.
Their new home features 16 solar panels (that number varies with each home depending on how it’s situated on the lot), argon-filled triple-pane windows, a net-zero building envelope, an electric heat pump with air source for heating and cooling. and fully wired Smart Home functions, from door locks to lighting and thermostat regulation.
“As soon as everything was up and running, we went back to selling to the network,” says Guy.
Now, instead of $900 a month, the couple should expect their energy costs to equal around $700 year-round.
They also wanted to be closer to their son, daughter and their families, who live in Mahogany; In total, they have four grandchildren, two four-year-old twin girls and two eight-year-old boys.
Fish Creek Park was also a big draw (it’s a block from the front door), as the couple loves nature and is very active. They can’t wait to put on their sneakers and headphones and go for a morning run together. They have also started a wish list that includes new bikes and snowshoes.
Matt Traynor, area sales manager for laneway homes at Jayman Built in Wolf Willow, says today’s homebuyers are looking for energy efficiency and sustainability, something Jayman offers standard at no additional cost, with its core performance.
“With energy prices rising, people are really paying attention. It’s definitely becoming part of the purchasing decision,” Traynor says, noting that net zero “isn’t cheap,” but when you factor in the long-term savings, it definitely makes sense. So far this year, Jayman has sold four net-zero homes (the company calls the option Quantum Performance Ultra E-Homes) and showcases a net-zero certified home in every community he builds in Alberta.
For Laura and Guy, the decision was definitely the right one. “We are very happy,” says Laura. “We will never move again.”
BUILDER: Jayman built
COMMUNITY: Wolf Willow
HOUSE MODEL: Erica 20, a three-bedroom, two-story home with three options on the path to a net-zero home, as well as a third-party certified net-zero option.
PRICE: The Erica 20 starts at $580,000, including lot and GST, basic performance sustainability features and smart home features. Expect to spend upwards of another $100,000 for the net zero housing option.
SHOW HOUSE: The Erica 20 show home (it is a net zero certified home) is located at 102 Wolf Creek Rise SE
HOURS: Open Monday to Thursday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Fridays.