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(On Peak Energy Reduction Architecture)
Picture of OPERA House I Click
Picture of OPERA House
Pictures of OPERA House VII Click
Make your next home an
OPERA House Click
What is an OPERA House?
It's not about singing although you may feel like it
when your utility bill comes in the mail each month. Actually,
it's simple logic and basic
physicstm applied to the use of off peak
energy. Here's how it works: There is 24hrs in a day. We get up, we
start to use energy, have breakfast and then really start using
energy. Between 11am and 7pm power is really flowing and is called "on
peak" and you are charged a premium during this time period. Some utilities
charge over 16 cents per KWH during on peak times, the national average is 10
cents per KWH.
On peak times are only in effect Monday through Friday.
All other times, including Saturday and Sunday, are "off peak" and the cost of
power is typically around three cents per KWH. The trick is to use as much
power off peak as possible without having to stay up until 3am doing laundry.
If you are building using conventional building practices you will find it
difficult to maximize off peak power since conventional insulation only resists the flow of heat then stores it.
Our simple designs change the direction of heat then uses the mass of the walls
to absorb heat during on peak times
Whether or not your local energy provider
offers off peak rates, this radical home design has many benefits even if taking
advantage of lower off peak rates are not available. Below are some
of these benefits:
- The A/C unit(s) only run during
the night. Lower temperatures means lower head pressures and decreased energy
- The solar heated air in the
attic is drawn into the clothes dryer to dry clothes using the 200 watt
tumbler motor as opposed to the 6,000 watt heating element to dry your
- Our patented mass wall system
using radiant barrier rejects so much heat at the exterior (in sunny
climates), that all the hot water needs of the home can be met, typically
without back up just by running pipes in the wall.
- The attic is insulated with our
patented RBS Chips which changes the direction
of heat as opposed to resisting it like insulation does.
- Attic venting is three times
what minimum codes require.
- The comfort of the OPERA
house is unmatched by any design due to the low mean radiant temperature of
the interior wall surfaces. Many people say it feels like walking into a
- Since OPERA Houses use
over 90% of the power during off peak times, this helps electric utilities
make more efficient use of the generating plants and helps prevent brown outs
and rolling blackouts.
About Off Peak Rates
Some utilities around the country are now offering alternative Time of
Use (TOU) rates that allow them to use the generation facilities more
efficiently. Keep in mind these plants must supply sufficient energy to
accommodate the largest load of each day across the grid...with ample to
spare. Costs of this generation is high, it's an inefficient use of the
generators. It also causes the greatest amount of pollution when most of
us energy users are awake and driving all over town.
this some of this "peak" usage could be diverted to the "off peak" times it
would be a win win for everyone as energy would cost less...much less. How
much less? APS has rates less that are less than three cents per kilowatt
hour. You could be paying as much as 16 cents now.
Both electric utilities in Phoenix AZ offer such incentives and the
homes you see on this link work in conjunction with them.
Arizona Public Service on peak hours are 9am to
9pm, Monday through Friday (Arizona Public Service Company) or 1pm to 8pm Monday
through Friday (Salt River Project).
During off peak hours, demand charges (KW)
are eliminated and consumption charges (KWH) are reduced significantly. Off peak
KWH charges are less than $0.03/kwh (the national average for a kwh is around
This is a win
win situation for all concerned. Users are rewarded with lower monthly bills and
utilities can use power generation equipment more efficiently. .
Pro's and Con's in a conventional home:
Pro's: lower electric bills for users of
Con's: Altering lifestyle to meet time parameters; doing laundry at
night or mornings, etc. waiting for off peak to begin
Pro's and Con's in an OPERA House:
Pro's: 60% (or more) lower electric bills, unmatched
comfort all year, healthier interior environment.
Con's: The OPERA House does cost more than conventional
construction. However, when added into a 20 year mortgage, the increased cost is
offset by the savings every month on electric bills. These homes have been built
since 1993 with proven performance. The first OPERA House has saved over
$9,000 in energy costs
since being built! After subtracting the savings of smaller HVAC
equipment, labor and materials the cost of OPERA technology over frame is
approximately $600 per 1000 square feet.
The Goal of the
O.P.E.R.A. HouseTo design a home
with the capacity of shifting most of the energy usage to less expensive, off
peak times without altering the lifestyle of the occupants. One of the most
difficult design considerations was interior comfort during the scorching
Phoenix summer heat. With ambient temperatures exceeding 110F the air
conditioning system would be under a significant load during the expensive, on
peak hours. In addition to the air conditioning load, the first O.P.E.R.A. House
was to be occupied by a family of ten! Using hot water for laundry and
dish washing could not be expected to be postponed until off peak
Designs for the
First, we designed
a thermal flywheel into the home using mass construction. All exterior
walls and one 8' x 20' interior
mass wall were constructed of cinder block and filled with mortar and left
uninsulated on the inside to absorb interior heat loads (light, people,
appliances, etc.). This mass system is cooled during inexpensive, off peak
times and effectively stores 12 tons of cooling with a temperature differential
of only 4 degrees during off peak times. A home of this size and occupancy
would normally require 5 to 6 tons of cooling. The OPERA House is being heated
and cooled by one 3 ton, 11 SEER heat pump.
exterior walls are wrapped with two layers of our Radiant Wrap product which
effectively retards heat gains and losses. This was covered by Dow expanded
polystyrene foam board and then a stucco finish. The total R value of the
exterior walls in OPERA II is R-2. The home is pre cooled at night during the
less expensive off peak rates, and runs minimally during the day to maintain
temperature and comfort.
capacity of the hot water tank was upsized from a standard 60 gallon to an 80
gallon tank and wrapped with two layers of Radiant Wrap. We then increased the
temperature to 160F and installed a mixing valve which tempered the 160F water
with incoming cold water. This would insure a delivery temperature of 130F
effectively making the 80 gallon tank larger. The tank is controlled by a timer
which was added to insure the tank would not be consuming electricity during the
more costly on peak rate charges. Since 1993, the family of ten has never
run out of hot water or heated water during expensive on peak hours even with
guests staying over.
Infrared thermography testing over the years has shown us that
conventional insulation not only slows heat but very effectively stores
heat. In an effort to minimize this we installed Radiant Barrier Chips over a bed
of blown cellulose with an R factor of 19. This design effectively retards heat
gain/loss and keeps the home from consuming large amounts of expensive on peak
electricity. An added benefit in all of our RBS Chip installations is the
increased comfort of the home throughout all seasons.
Click here To see the performance of this home.The
chart clearly illustrates the performance curve of the O.P.E.R.A. House
throughout the year. A family of ten, living in a 2300 square foot, all electric
south facing home spent $56.00 on air conditioning in August! Local
utilities recommend a 66/33 (66% off peak, 33% on peak) split for savings on
time of use rates. The more you shift to off peak times, the more you
save. O.P.E.R.A. house I averages a 87/13 shift throughout the year
occupied by a family of ten. O.P.E.R.A. House II consistently uses 92% off
peak regardless of the outside temperature.
These values would
be impossible using conventional insulation products in a desert
House SpecificationsOrientation: South
Livable square footage: 2300 square
Occupancy: family of ten
Wall insulation: R-10 polystyrene foam with two layers of Radiant Wrap
Ceiling insulation: R-19 blown
cellulose covered with Radiant
Windows: dual pane aluminum sliders
HVAC: Rheem 3 ton, 11 SEER split system
Electric Bills: Less than $240 per year for heating and
Livable square footage: 2150 square feet
Occupancy: family of
Wall insulation: R-2 polystyrene foam with two layers of Radiant Wrap
Ceiling insulation: R-19 batt
fiberglass with two layers of Radiant Wrap stapled to the
flat roof deck.
Windows: dual pane aluminum sliders
HVAC: Rheem 4 ton, 12 SEER split system
Electric Bills: Uses less than 10% on peak power
Highest summer electric bill for
Heating costs in the winter average $2 - $3 per month
usage of this home shows 92% of the power is consumed during off peak
How to make
your new home an O.P.E.R.A. HouseSend your blueprint
including floor plan and elevations to our office for review. There is no need
to alter the design of your home, only how it is built and where
insulation is placed. You will be supplied with a detailed plan and instructions
for implementing our designs.
consulting design charges are on a per home basis depending on size and
complexity of your plan. The plan will be reviewed and returned with
O.P.E.R.A House specifications, designs and upgrades.
There is no "extra
cost" to build an O.P.E.R.A. House. The few thousand extra dollars once
rolled into the mortgage will be far offset per month with energy savings.
Not to mention the increased comfort of your home.
If your new home is in the planning
stage, we can offer suggestions to build energy efficiency into your new home.
If your home is the framing stage, you still have time to install the most
efficient product in the walls and attic.
email for consultation.
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