Alex tours a Touchstone Energy Home and answers your questions about home energy efficiency

If you’ve bounced around this website at all, you’ve noticed that we’re incredibly keen on the Touchstone Energy Home™. For a lot of great reasons (elucidated here, by our stalwart spokesmodel Alex in a new video). We didn’t have to look hard to find a member who shared our enthusiasm—and built an amazing house that proves it.

Parke County REMC members Rees and Wayne Olander decided to build their dream retirement home in Waveland, Indiana, in 2012, and they started with sustainability in mind.

“Efficiency was an easy choice for us,” said Wayne, who as an architect is well familiar with energy-efficient building techniques. “We wanted our energy bills to be as low as possible—for the rest of our lives.”

Energy-efficient features of the house include

  • Geothermal heating and cooling
  • Sealed gas fireplace so that no energy escapes through a chimney
  • Pocket doors and minimal hallways to eliminate wasted space that would need to be heated and cooled
  • Induction stovetop
  • Triple-pane windows in the sunroom and double-pane elsewhere
  • Six-inch studs to increase wall insulation volume
  • Spray sealant on all the wood within the walls so that pinhole air gaps become air tight
  • Sealing around all outlets, light fixtures, and switches

In other words, the couple went above and beyond the Touchstone Energy Home standards.

“For us, a big piece of it is that we were heading into retirement and looking at how we could fix our costs,” Rees said. “You can’t control what the utilities are going to do, so the less dependent you are on consumption, the better off you are.”

The couple rented a house in the neighborhood while their own home was being built, and the costs there were eye-opening: “We paid the energy bills on both places last month,” Wayne said. “This one is three times the size of the rental, and we had contractors coming in and out constantly. Still, the bills were the same.”

The Olanders were well-versed in the rebates and tax credits they’d earn for their efficiency projects, and feel great about the decision.

“We have the comfort of knowing we have an energy efficient home with probably the lowest utility bills in this development by far,” Wayne said. “There’s no question we made the right decision.”

You can check out the Olanders’ dream home and find out more about what makes a Touchstone Energy Home in our new video. Did we get Alex into some poor unsuspecting homeowner’s bed again? Watch and see.