Real-world tests provide peace of mind for homeowner investments

| by Gary Parsons
Real-world tests provide peace of mind for homeowner investments


When it comes to homebuilding, you’re not the only one who wants to be 100 percent sure that the systems and products you select are increasing your home’s comfort, durability, quality and value.

Part of my job at Dow Building Solutions is to ensure that we understand the science behind the building and use that knowledge to help create homes that outperform building codes. We understand that testing of the insulation and air sealing systems and products we create must extend beyond the lab into where it matters most: the real world.

We are dedicated to demonstrating the value of building and renovating homes so they perform beyond current codes for years to come. We do this through our investment in real-world test facilities, and our unique approach to not only simply testing one home but an entire community of homes.  

The TEETH Project

Completed in 2012, the Twelve Energy Efficient Test Homes (TEETH) – also known as the "TEETH Project" – consists of 12 homes that are not just test facilities, but homes in which real families live. Built in collaboration with Cobblestone Homes, this five-year study is the nation's first active energy-efficient test community, located in Midland, Michigan (building climate zone 5/6). The TEETH subdivision is made up of four different energy performance insulation and air sealing packages and three different floor plans.

Each of the four energy performance packages features a different combination of insulation and air sealing improvements, including continuous insulation, closed-cell spray foam insulation and insulating foam sealants. 

 Energy Performance Design PlanBuilding Code Met

Baseline Performance
Minimum Cost
HERS 82 

Meet 2006 IECC at lowest possible price point


2012 Energy Performance
Minimum Cost
HERS 57  

Meet 2012 IECC at lowest possible price point

2012 Outperformance Home
HERS 57 

Meet 2012 IECC building science best practices


Beyond Code Renewable Ready
HERS - Mid 40

Exceeded 2102 IECC
Renewable Ready

To ensure the validity of the study, each home was uniformly built to exacting standards designed to mitigate variances, including orientation to the sun and grade. The 12 test homes are comparable in size, floor plan and all other key features with the exception of the insulating and air sealing systems.

Each home has a Data Acquisition Box in its basement to collect information relating to energy consumption, humidity, moisture levels, heat flow, and temperature – all key points in discussion of energy-efficient homes. The homes represent the country’s first active subdivision dedicated to the purpose of collecting and analyzing building performance data.

It is important to note that the families living in the TEETH homes are not aware of which energy performance model home they are living in. This allows for residents to conduct their normal energy consumption habits without awareness of the energy performance of their dwelling, which helps to ensure the data collected is unbiased. With the data collected, we are able to accurately test how building products and systems behave together.

The TEETH Project is just one more example of Dow’s ongoing commitment to gathering real-world data that allows homebuilders and homeowners to see how building a better-performing home leads to more durability, comfort, efficiency, savings and overall longevity of the home! Stay tuned for additional blog postings later this fall where we will reveal some of the key learnings from this experiment. 

Topics: Energy Audits, Trends / Statistics

Companies: Dow Building Solutions

Gary Parsons
Gary Parsons is the Lead Building Scientist in Dow Building Solutions Research and Development. He is a LEED Accredited Professional, a licensed residential contractor in the state of Michigan, a member of the Society of Plastics Engineers and a member of ASHRAE. wwwView Gary Parsons's profile on LinkedIn

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