CEH Answers FAQ’s THE BEST WAY TO LEARN IS BY FREQUENTLY ASKING QUESTIONS!!! ENERGY RELATED: How close are CEH to 100% energy efficient? Zero Energy is a goal that we are expecting to achieve when it makes economic sense and compared to your neighbors you will have what seems like NO UTILITY BILLS! These are the major monthly savings that pay down a higher mortgage payment. What types of energy saving products are in the “package”? We expect to combine most of the current technologies including Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF’s); geothermal; solar; wind; foam and plastic ductwork (not metal) to achieve ZERO ENERGY or close to it. The geographic location, site placement, and landscaping will dictate which combination makes most economic sense. Aren’t all these features in one “package” unrealistically expensive? No, and experts agree, that any resulting higher monthly mortgage payment is mostly paid from savings and tax credits. $10,000- $15,000 of the total disaster and energy enhancements of a CEH is reimbursed by the federal government’ unlimited 30% energy tax credit or rebate. The remaining cost is offset by savings from utility bills, insurance discounts, minimal repairs and maintenance, and other government and supplier discounts, deductions and credits. As unbelievable as it may seem, a CEH now has the same monthly cash outlay as a traditional wood framed house and there is absolutely no comparison in benefits. You may even have the opportunity to make money by selling excess electricity back to the utility company! Why is energy so talked about all of a sudden? At no time in history has the environment, the economy, and the government presented a more favorable climate and support for energy conservation and can there be a better purpose for the Stimulus Package than for energy, housing, and job creation? We challenge anyone to offer a BETTER solution than ZERO ENERGY and DISASTER RESISTANT homes combined! Are ConcreteEnergyHomes ENERGY STAR rated? Not only will we be ENERGY STAR approved, but we expect to meet and exceed all standards and code requirements for ENERGY STAR and all other certified ratings. Although we did not set out to intentionally design our homes to meet those standards, our homes were designed to solve the needs dictated by our environment to save and protect lives, property, and the environment for the next century, which consequently results in our homes achieveing such higher standards. Are your homes considered “GREEN”? We have eliminated the major source of ANTI GREEN materials, WOOD! Substantially all our products, concrete, foam, steel, and rubber are considered high among green products as they are made non-toxic, renewable, recyclable, and without upsetting the environment and adding to the carbon footprint. What are ICF’s and why are they such a benefit? ICF stands for Insulated Concrete Forms and they serve two purposes 1) a concrete wall is created using two rigid foam panels to form a cavity into which concrete is placed; they are then stacked to form the exterior walls and the foam simply stays in place after the concrete cures 2) the foam provides a super insulated and sealed envelope with no drafts or air leaks. The forms look like a large ice cream (concrete) sandwich formed by two 2”-3” thick sheets of rigid foam, secured 4-10 inches apart, typically 6”, by plastic ties that are embedded in the foam and later in the concrete. These light weight insulating forms are normally 4’ wide by 16” high making them easily manageable for stacking atop each other to form the exterior walls. Steel rebar is installed during the stacking process to give concrete its strength and when the walls are completed (and properly braced to restrict movement) concrete is pumped into the cavity, filling the footing first and rising to fill the walls both in the same pour. The ICF walls form a superior strength and insulated exterior wall that is impenetrable by flying objects and highly energy efficient thanks to the concrete mass that maintains a constant ground temperature, helped by the insulation qualities of the foam of course. Approximately 50% energy efficiency of a CEH is achieved with ICF walls and roof. How does the GEOTHERMAL heating and cooling work? Plastic tubes are buried vertically or horizontally deep into your yard and a nonfreezing liquid is pumped to circulate through the tubes. In the winter, warmer ground temperatures are absorbed by the liquid, extracted and made warmer by pumpd snf compressors, and blown into the interior living space to warm the house. The process is reversed for the cooling season whereby warm air is removed from the interior living space, similar to a refrigerator, leaving cooler air, and the warm air is transferred to the liquid and pumped back into and absorbed by the cooler ground or a well or nearby lake or pond could also serve as a heating or discharging source for the tubes. How does solar heating or electric operate? Collector panels are used to gather the suns rays and transfers the heat to equipment that either warms your house or produces electricity. Separate solar panel systems are needed for either application. The DC electricity goes through an inverter and converted to useful household AC current. Any excess electricity produced can be saved in batteries or sent out to the grid and sold to the electric company where you will be credited, further reducing your electric bill. Your actual use of electricity is FREE! Does your wind equipment need the large propeller bladed turbines? Only if a large development of ConcreteEnergyHomes can be built. Otherwise, we use roof top wind turbines for each single family home and they come in several designs depending on how many watts need to be produced based on appliance usage. We illustrate several only a few on this site. They may seem odd and awkward at first but they clearly announce your energy consciousness to your neighbors! Your geographic location also determines the use of wind generation. How does ductwork affect energy efficiency? We think we have found the highest quality air duct system! Our PE plastic ductwork provides an air system that is safe for humans and the environment. Our underground ductwork system incorporates both the earth's thermal properties and PE foam to create a superior energy efficient product; a performance that meets the next-generation of air systems. The preformed ductwork has the characteristic of a smooth low friction surface that is resistant to mildew, mold, and radon; under pressure it will not crack; is non-toxic and recyclable. In addition, the ductwork is self-insulating, adjustable and easy to install below grade. Isn’t energy efficiency alone, without the disaster protection, a worthwhile goal in building a house? Certainly, but...Imagine how you’d feel if a disaster damages or demolishes your vulnerable and unprotected energy efficient home, seriously injuring a loved one, and you know you could have prevented it? Both natural and man-made disasters are becoming more common so why agonize over this one-time decision that makes every sense and not cost you any more out-of- pocket on a monthly basis. The energy efficiency pays for the disaster resistance so what’s the decision? Call us! DISASTER RELATED: How thick of a wall should I have? Testing has showed that even 4” thick walls repel flying objects but there is more uncertainty in eliminating voids, which are pockets of air that form when concrete is not consolidated properly. 8”-10” thick walls are usually reserved for basements or taller commercial structures that need to carry more weight. 6” walls are recommended for 1-2 story single family homes. A structural engineer should be consulted early in the process. How is the roof system disaster proof? The roof is made similar to the exterior walls, with rigid foam, steel rebar, and concrete, then further protected with either decorative noncombustible RUBBER shingles with enhanced UV ray protection or a rolled on poly elastomer. The roof and walls are connected with rebar to form one solid protective mass of steel reinforced concrete that will not allow the roof to be BLOWN OFF, the cause of most high wind catastrophic losses. There are NO WOOD trusses to rot or burn, while rubber shingles are securely fastened and do NOT spread a flame and resists hail! If flying debris won’t penetrate the walls, then how about the windows? We use the most advanced hurricane strength glass and window frame developed and approved in Florida, that is also energy efficient and constructed with vinyl and square metal tubing for added strength. Furthermore, we have hurricane shutters for additional protection or innovative removable durable plastic shields to protect the glass. How are metal window and door framing better than traditional wood or plastic? Wood or plastic framing will rot or burn in a flood or fire and is less secure from attempts to break in. Our windows are screwed into steel and concrete to create a permanent attachment.   How is the most vulnerable opening, the garage door, protected from disasters? Not only is the metal garage door insulated but hurricane strengthened with metal cross bracing. The steel door framing, same as the windows, has an additional thick steel plate surrounding the inside opening to further secure the hardware.  Since your standard homes are one level, where do you HIDE to protect yourself from flying debris, or God forbid, someone breaks into your home? A safe room serves as ultimate protection and is built into a master closet or other room. The ICF/concrete walls, concrete roof, steel door, burglar proof hardware, emergency communications, forms a protective vault and includes an immovable SAFE for valuables that is also secured into the concrete. Don’t panic, you and your property will be safe from intruders! How will the exterior surfaces avoid suffering damage during disasters? Although most common exterior finishes could be used, we use a 1/2” thick, hardened, fire and water resistant, decorative cement product that is applied like stucco to complete the disaster proof nature of our homes. The enhanced exterior finish protects the house from visual damage and repairs, while the inner 6” thickness protects lives and more severe damages.  Is there any wood in your homes? How about the interior walls? Only if you want wood! Our interior walls are constructed of steel studs, paperless mold and mildew resistant sheetrock taped and plastered with 1/8” thick wall protection similar to the exterior, and if desired, finish coated with no or low VOC paint. You would be hard pressed to intentionally light this house on fire and floods should only cause minimal damage to the walls and concrete/rubber floor without expensive restoration or insurance claims. Are there other disaster housing builders out there? I’m sure there are, but, I haven’t found any that have designed BOTH disaster resistant AND energy efficient features into a single whole-house strategy as well as we have. We believe others simply think it is too costly and hard to sell. However, I am an idealist that continually looks to improve things and if I want it, others do too! Why can’t we all have a piece of THE BEST? My realism may be challenged but I believe this is the right product and now is the right time! Has anyone approved or rated your homes? Everyone we talk with, including the professionals, all say what a great concept this is. I have met with the officiials of the Institute for Business and Home Safety, IBHS, a marketing and promotion arm for the national residential insurance industry, who have created the “Fortified...for safer living” program, and they have already commented on how great our product is and how we would exceed their expectations for qualifying as a “Fortified Home” and ConcreteEnergyHomes as a “Fortified Builder”, which would qualify our homes for substantial insurance discounts due to the lack of expected losses and claims. OTHER RELATED QUESTIONS: There seem to be so many choices of ICF forms, does it make a difference which one you choose? Generally not. The energy benefits between blocks are insignificant and the homeowner will never know the difference once the house is completed. The builder however will usually stick with the first block he uses successfully, especially if they can also become a distributor for that specific block, which allows them to buy forms at discounted prices.  What benefits are there specifically for seniors that might allow them to stay in your homes longer? We’ve designed homes for one level living with no steps, no stairs, and hopefully no falling! All doors have lever handles, not knobs. Electrical outlets are higher up on the walls and more reachable. Concrete floors are covered with cushioning foam for greater comfort. Certain amenities can be customized to appropriate heights such as: counter tops, toilets, tubs or showers. Are there any disability or ADA sensitive features that would attract handicapped persons? You bet! All our doors are 3’ wide; hallways 4’ wide, and 5’ diameter wheel chair turnarounds in the bathroom and kitchen. Smoother surface flooring replaces carpeting for both cleaner, healthier, and safer living and mobility. How important is ICF construction using your “OnePour” ConCoreSystem? Builders will downplay the significance because they are not familiar with our process and its many benefits. The main benefit to a homeowner is that the structure is unarguably stronger as a single monolithic concrete mass with no cold joint. We may only be talking degrees here but why not choose THE BEST? An earthquake will surely test this joint and likely cause it to crack and be vulnerable to moisture and rusted rebar. There are many more benefits to the builder that will eliminate headaches throughout the project and some of the savings may get passed on to you! How did you get involved with disaster housing? I was feeling a need to find new challenges in my accounting career, where I specialized in residential construction. I was introduced to ICF construction through a respected client and an opportunity to build a home came my way. I began thinking about designing smaller and more affordable ICF retirement homes and before I could build one, hurricane Katrina hit, followed by the super tornado in Greensburg, KS, and then “Global Warming” got heated up.  Families, neighbors, communities, and the economy were suffering and GOD presented me with an opportunity to do something purposeful. How did your ideas evolve? My father was a ponderer, a thinker, and a tinkerer and I realized not long ago that I inherited those aspects of his character. I had become acquainted with an older gentleman that invented a metal reusable footing form and bracing system specifically for ICF construction. I acquired the licensing rights to his ConCoreSystem, named for ICF’s having a concrete core, and plans on how to market them have been formulating ever since. I have spent the past few years researching ways to build safer, stronger, and more recently, energy efficient homes that combine both disaster resistance and energy efficiency, all in one.   How quickly can I get the ball rolling on a purchase? This website is our first effort at getting the word out and we don’t expect anyone to contact us until we have our first model/prototype home built. If you want to be the first and get the attention, we could be ready to build in 1-2 months from now and it would take no more than 3 months to complete this first home. Normal construction should take less than 2 months! Send your questions to daveandersonla@gmail.com Copyright © 2013 ConcreteEnergyHomes, LLC Disaster Resistant and Zero Energy Homes to Last Forever!