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House is certified as Energy Star home

This three-bedroom home at 766 Monson Road has been certified as an Energy Star house. Reminder photo by G. Michael Dobbs
By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

WILBRAHAM If you're already dreading your winter energy bills, then the new house designed and constructed by Wilbraham builder Paul Huijing may be your dream home.

Energy Star appliances that save money are common these days, but what about an Energy Star home? Huijing has built a three-bedroom home at 766 Monson Road that is certified as an Energy Star house.

During a tour of the new home, Huijing explained that outside auditors verify the air-tightness of the building at the end of construction. The verdict? This house is 50 percent more energy efficient than a standard new home.

Huijing said that depending upon usage and the cost of energy, this home could shave $900 to $1,000 off of its owner's heating and cooling each year.

"The more severe a winter, the more money you could save," Huijing said.

In case one might think a home with such a feature would resemble a bunker, guess again. Huijing's house is a Cape design with many windows providing natural light. Those windows are all energy-efficient double-glazed ones as well.

"You really don't have to sacrifice style, design and light to achieve significant reductions in energy usage," Huijing said.

What makes this home so energy efficient is the way it is insulated. Huijing used different techniques than are usually found in new construction to make best use of the insulation.

Upstairs in what Huijing calls "the bonus room" a large room over the two-car garage is a long window seat. An attractive feature to the room, the window seat was constructed over a heating duct. Placing the heating duct in this manner allows it to be more efficient.

Huijing also selected propane rather than heating oil as the home's energy source. He said that while oil may have more heating value, an oil furnace has maintenance issues that a propane furnace does not. Propane also gives a homeowner greater flexibility in choosing appliances.

Huijing, who earned both a Bachelor's and Master's degrees in mechanical engineering from Cornell University, started his own home building business two and half years ago after spending time working as a construction superintendent. In his career so far, he has help build more than 40 new homes.

Huijing said that he wanted to design a home that would have long-range appeal to a family. The master bedroom suite and the laundry room are on the first-floor to accommodate people who eventually might not want to go up and down stairs. The living and dining areas are on the first floor as well.

He said, with a smile, that the home is "sort of like my third child."

This home is the first he has built without an owner already in place. Its cost is $439,900.

"This is the type of project I like doing," he said. "It's the quality level I like doing."