Garage turns into energy-efficient guest house (Video/Photo Gallery)

| by Teena Hammond
Garage turns into energy-efficient guest house (Video/Photo Gallery)

In San Diego, homeowners converted a garage into a guest house with a focus on green remodeling and energy-efficiency. teamed up with the residents to complete the green garage remodel. The nonfunctional garage was transformed into a finished guest house, complete with LED lighting, energy-efficient windows, insulation, a tankless water heater, a water conserving toilet and a low-voltage heating and cooling unit.

"We wanted to incorporate sustainable, durable and energy-efficient materials into our garage remodel," said Justin Brown, homeowner. "By paying attention to the details and paying a little extra for the upgraded materials we knew that we would be adding resale value to our home."

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the Remodeling Market Index (RMI) climbed to 50 in the third quarter of 2012, up from 45 in the previous quarter. The RMI is at its highest point since the third quarter of 2005, tracking the positive trends recently seen in the rest of the housing sector.

With only 840 square feet in the 1930s-era house, the additional 320 square feet that the garage added to living space provides the Browns with not only an additional bathroom, but also home office and family room.

"From our initial drawings and concepts, the garage has every detail we wanted down to the custom closets and fun color-changing LED lighting" said Stacy Brown, homeowner. "The lighting and appliances also help to cut down on additional costs we may see in our utility bills."

By properly insulating the garage, adding windows and also installing an energy-efficient heating and air conditioning unit in the space, the new guest house complies with local ordinances and building codes and is guaranteed to be warm in winter and cool in summer.

Images of the remodel are available in ProudGreenHome's photo gallery.

Why go green?

The National Association of Home Builders states that the top ways to increase energy efficiency are:

  • Install appropriate insulation in area to be remodeled.
  • Install high-efficiency windows instead of those that minimally meet the energy code.
  • Seal all exterior penetrations in areas being remodeled.
  • Purchase only Energy Star-rated appliances.
  • Install only low-flow water fixtures.
  • Upgrade to at least an Energy Star-rated water heater, or better yet, a tankless water heater.
  • Purchase the highest efficiency HVAC system you can afford and make sure it is correctly sized for the area you want to condition.

Energy-efficient lighting

LED lighting was installed in the entire guest house to help save on extra energy costs — and to add a little extra flair. The LED light bulbs in the ceiling lights are wirelessly controlled by a Lutron Pico Wireless remote synced to Lutron Maestro Wireless Electronic Low Voltage dimmers. This allows the user to turn all the lights on/off or dim them from any area in guest house at the same time.

A Lutron Pico wireless remote was also synced up to the outdoor lighting so that the homeowners can turn on the lights from inside their home before walking out to the guest house.

The built-in cabinets in the laundry and wet bar area really bring the room alive with their color-changing capabilities. RGB Double Density LED strip light was installed above and below the cabinets and are controlled with an RGB LED Touch Controller.

"Everyone that visits the house loves to play with the new color-changing LED lights," said Brown. "I can't believe how energy-efficient they are. They use less than 50 watts of power!"

The LED controller allows them to use the color wheel to select any color they desire or choose one of the 11 pre-programmed modes, which includes flipping through all the colors. White light can also be created with this strip light for standard lighting use.

Read more about remodeling a home.

Topics: Energy Star, Lighting, Remodeling, Water Heaters, Water Saving Devices, Windows

Teena Hammond
Teena Hammond has published more than 2,000 articles in People and W magazines, Women's Wear Daily, and in dozens of newspapers and books. She also wrote a home improvement, remodeling and decor column that ran in Gannett newspapers nationwide. She's interested in all things green and would love to hear from you with your story ideas.

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