This article is over 12 years old


This Old Green House – A Home From the ’70’s Shows It’s Never Too Late To Go Green

When people hear the term “green” home, they usually think of something newly-built with the latest in renewable materials and efficient appliances.

But one home in suburban Houston that dates back to the Carter administration is proof that you don’t “always” have to start from scratch to have a certified green home.

David Pitman reports.


To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code:

<iframe src="" style="height: 115px; width: 100%;"></iframe>

(sounds of car driving by)…

Standing outside this house in Sugar Land, you wouldn’t assume there’s really anything special about it.  Like the rest of the houses in the Colony Bend subdivision off Williams Trace Boulevard, it’s a spacious, well-kept home surrounded by other spacious, well-kept homes built in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

But what makes it stand out is that it’s the first existing home in the Houston area to receive a “Silver” certification by the National Association of Green Home Builders.  That means it scores particularly well when it comes to being efficient and airtight. So how does a 31-year-old house that used to have power bills as large as a mortgage earn a green certification?  Gary Parr of says you have to start at the top..

“We sealed the attic door going into the attic with a cover.  We improved the insulation in the attic.  We’re designed the whole HVAC system from ductwork, to indoor to outdoor unit.”

Parr was involved in a contest earlier this year to find the biggest energy hog in the Houston area.  Out of 800 entries, the home in Sugar Land that won the title had an electric bill from August of 2008 of $750 — which is quite staggering for a 2,700 square foot house.  And homeowner Web Jones he knew where a lot of that money was going..

“The house never got below 80.  The air conditioner ran 24 hours a day.  It never cut off.  You would go into the attic, and you could feel leaks from the a/c.   You could feel cold spots as you went through the attic.”

The energy makeover that Jones won came with about $30,000 worth of donated supplies and labor — including a new a/c, all new windows, and a tankless water heater.  The changes cut Jones’ August power bill by more than half, and earned the “Silver” green home certification.

Homebuilding consultant Dennis Celsor says while most people think of a truly ‘green’ home as one built with eco-friendly materials, it’s possible to be almost as eco-friendly with home built decades before we even started thinking ‘green.’

“‘Green’ is an umbrella terms that covers a vast array of things, including energy efficiency.  And it’s estimated energy efficiency is as much as 80% of green.  So in this particularly study, we were looking at the energy efficiency aspects, and trying to attack it from the most important parts.”

Celsor adds that homeowners who aren’t lucky enough to win a contest, or don’t have 30-grand to invest in a complete makeover can get the most bang for their buck by upgrading the insulation and ventilation in their attics.


This story first aired November 23, 2009.

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required

David Pitman

David Pitman

Host & Announcer

David was HPM's local Morning Edition host from 2009 to 2020 — when he was moved to the position of Technical Director of Houston Matters with Craig Cohen, and Town Square with Ernie Manouse. David has extensive public and commercial broadcast journalism and production experience dating back to 1993 –...

More Information