The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, which ended October 2nd, 2011, challenged college teams to design, construct, and operate efficient homes powered by solar photovoltaic arrays. Teams competing in the Solar Decathlon spend up to two years designing affordable and attractive homes featuring comfortable and healthy indoor environmental conditions. The competition requires that all energy used by appliances for cooking, cleaning, and entertainment be produced on site. One of the key objectives was to provide an adequate supply of hot water while maintaining energy efficiency.
There are a few water heaters on the market that are perfect for the Solar Decathlon because they maximize hot water output while using little energy. Options for these high efficiency products include heat pump water heaters, solar thermal water heaters, or two tank systems using Rheem Marathon water heaters. While they are hard to find in your standard home improvement stores, specialty online retailers such as GPConservation readily provide these products in-stock.
The EMPOWERHOUSE project team, made up of students from Parsons The New School of Design and Stevens Institute of Technology, used a community-based approach to build a net-zero passive house in the 2011 Solar Decathlon. The team partnered up with the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development, Habitat of Humanity of Washington D.C. and others to get the project on its feet.
Photo Credit: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon
The team used the following systems to accomplish their vision of a net-zero energy home: a 4.2 kW solar array, a sedum green roof tray, a carefully placed dryer exhaust, a micro inverter, an AirGenerate Airtap™ Hybrid heat pump water heater, and an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV).
Each team could score up to 100 points per contest for a potential total of 1,000 points. The ten contests used in the 2011 competition were:
- Market Appeal
- Comfort Zone
- Hot Water
- Home Entertainment
- Energy Balance
The EMPOWERHOUSE project team took 1st place in the affordability contest and tied for 1st place in the hot water contest with a perfect score of 100 by using a cutting edge AirGenerate AirTap™ Hybrid heat pump water heater. The hot water contest assessed a home’s ability to supply all hot water needed for daily washing and bathing. The team was scored by its ability to deliver 15 gallons of hot water in 10 minutes or less, the equivalent of one person taking a shower or doing one load of laundry. The team’s use of the AirGenerate AirTap™ Hybrid heat pump water heater in this competition led to a first place spot in the hot water contest. This further demonstrates the product’s unmatched energy efficient technology.
Check out a virtual tour of the winning EMPOWERHOUSE project: