A new crop of energy-efficient homebuilders help Chicagoans warm up to winter.
As Chicago emerges from a January deep freeze, many residents will endure a familiar sight: sky-high gas and electric bills.
But a few bill-payers won’t flinch: $47 covered the January heating costs for the first home built by Smart Tech Homes in 2011. “Our heating and home-ventilating systems have gotten even better,” says North Clybourn Group broker Karen Biazar (call 773-645-7900), who markets homes for the green builder. Since then, Smart Tech has worked to refine the performance of even the smallest details, including window flashing and HVAC duct seal, and as a result, its 80 Chicago residences have all achieved Energy Star ratings, which guarantee a 30 percent energy savings.
Fortunately, the slew of green amenities doesn’t detract from the open design — or the affordable price. One such example is the four-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom new construction at 1806 S. Morgan in Pilsen. The ultra-modern wonder is outfitted with a tankless water heater, low-flow plumbing fixtures and an HRV system (that’s short for “heat recovery ventilation” — a perk for Chicago winters), and is on the market for $499,000.
The trick for keeping home prices down? “Smart tech is not an overbuild approach,” Biazar says. “[Houses are] built and designed for extreme efficiency and affordability with a door open for expansion.” That expansion could include equipping the semifinished basement with a full bathroom — made all the more doable by a few winters of energy bill savings.
Turning blue (and green): Imagine knowing your energy needs and predicting costs before getting smacked by the monthly bill. Chicago homebuilder Indigo furnishes each abode with a Nest Learning Thermostat, which predicts your schedule, programs itself and can be controlled from your phone. Indigo’s newest development, two four-bedroom single-family homes at the corner of 2963 N. Dawson ($484,000) and 3309 W. Wellington ($469,000) in Avondale, also features the gamut of energy-efficient appliances as well as high R-value insulation. Bonus for green-minded buyers: “We prefer to build on empty lots so as not to create more waste by tearing down a perfectly good existing home,” says Kelly Parker, an @properties certified green broker and Indigo’s exclusive marketer (call 312-881-8981).
Fair weather fan: For a blast of warm air during the cold months, switch on Max. The uber-modern “fan heater” from Swiss high-design appliance maker Stadler Form adds a jolt of color and heats up cold rooms using an adjustable thermostat dial. Too much hot air? In the summertime, Max doubles as a traditional fan. $119; Stadlerformusa.com