Posted by: greenpinkies | March 13, 2012

Open House Invite: “Y’all Come On In!”

Energy star rating of 5+ stars?

60% more efficient with utility bills than before?

Heated by solar heated hot water?

That old house!?


Come on in! Take a look!

Open Demonstration/Exposition House:

March 31 – April 1, 2012

10am to 5pm

 226 South Happy Hollow Road,  Fayetteville, 72701

You are cordially invited:

 The Green Pinkies, LLC, “Two Women and a House”, are holding the door open and inviting the general public to stop in and see this solar water heated house system which has generated (pun intended) so much interest in the remodeling community.

Winner of the Silver Award in the Moderate climate, remodel category of the 2012 Energy Value Housing competition at the National Home Builder’s Convention in Florida, this 30 year old, brick ranch style, 1478 square foot, flagship home, now boasts an energy star rating of 5+ stars and is 60% more efficient than before the remodel.

Can an older house be heated mostly by using Solar Heated water? Can this be done without the huge outlay of cash which Photo voltaic panels require? Heating water is far more basic and intuitive.

Can the average homeowner tackle these kinds of Energy Updates to their older home? Can they use only parts of the system as the budget allows?  We, an average mother and daughter living here in Fayetteville, Arkansas did it. We think anybody could with a little direction.

Stop by, look the house over and get some ideas for adding to your own energy efficient upgrades, whether they be small or large.

We are not selling anything or offering any services. (Well, maybe we’ll have cookies laid out).  This is simply an educational expo for the public. We are sharing our experience and our enthusiasm. Warning: we are bragging about our contractors. Plus, this is a great way to meet all of you who have so diligently followed the progress of the house over the year we worked on it.

See you soon,

Your, GreenPinkies


Dateline:  Orlando, Florida, National Home Builders Convention, EVHA Awards Presentation, Febraury 8, 2012

GreenPinkies LLC:  Silver Award, moderate climate, remodel category

As the sun slowly sets in the Florida sky, your pauperized Pinkies turn their proverbial horses to the western horizon and ride off into the sunset.

The stakes were high and we played them to the end. All aces were laid on the table and ….

Ah, Orlando, home of beautiful nightlife, rental cars, valet parking and 5 star (not “energystar”) restaurants.  Not to mention Sea World, Universal Studios, and Disneyworld.  The expense, nay the experience, was fascinating.

All aces were laid on the table and ….like poker, the strength of your hand is all dependent upon what cards the other players bring to the table.

But “folding” is only one play in the game.

What we did find was, once again, that sterling quality that some people have which makes them secure enough to ‘show their cards’ to the newbies. There is a certain attitude in a percentage of the people in any group that allows them to grasp the big picture of ‘community’,  to play the first round “open faced” so all can benefit from the instruction.

We are here again congratulating that certain attitude, which we did find in some of our contemporaries in the building industry: a willingness to think outside the box, a genuine warmth, welcome, and indeed a very honest attempt to mentor the newbies.  These are the ones who came out to meet and encourage us on the street less traveled. (which happens to be “G” ;)). Thank you all of you.

Under the tab on this website called “Define, Please”, you will see a basic description of the Energy Efficient Systems we wished to put into place in this house for the heating and cooling.

Here’s the summary and costs:

We decided to do a Hydronic heating system consisting of a partnership between solar heated water and a Rinnai, gas fired, tankless water heater.  The water thus heated would heat forced air for the house using a Hydronic Air Handler (donated by the Rinnai corporation), as well as under tile heating of the kitchen and bathroom floors (Uponor).  This system will also supply the domestic hot water for the house.

Here is the cost breakdown for the entire Energy Efficient makeover :

Total cost of all systems: $31,102.47   (This number is a total, If you just went with the solar water heating panel and Rinnai tankless water heater and Hydronic furnace, you are looking at about $15,000.00)

 With that, we commence our tour around our Solar System:

We begin with the roof where we have a 4’ x 10’ panel from Sun City Solar.

 This panel is a ‘closed system’  This means that pipes passing through it circulate a mixture of distilled water mixed with food grade Glycol to be heated by the sun.  This mixture is in a closed loop and the mixture never mixes with the actual potable water for the house.  Instead, this mixture circulates through the panel with the help of a small photovoltaic solar panel connected to a pump, goes down into an 80 gallon storage tank, in the kitchen, and heats the 80 gallons of potable water to 170 degrees.

This water is then circulated through the Rinnai Tankless water heater.   At this point the tankless determines and mixes the water  if necessary, until the water is 140 degrees and sends it on to the Hydronic furnace, (located in the hall closet)   The furnace operates very much like the radiator on a car in that is has many, many ‘fins’ for transferring the heat from the water to the air.   The air is then blown through ductwork into all parts of the house.

Simultaneous to this, the hot water from the Solar tank is sent to Rinnai tankless, who cools it down to 70-80 degrees and sends it though an Uponor track system of plastic tubing under the tile floors in the bathrooms and kitchen.

Also simultaneous to this, the Rinnai tankless will moderate the water to 120 degrees when domestic hot water is called for.

Kitchen Uponor before tile

Floor after tiling

Cost breakdown:

Water Heating and House Heating systems:

 Sun City Solar:  $4,120.81

Includes:  Solar hot water heating panel, lightly used ,  plus 80 gal tank

North Star Plumbing: (

$10,341.34* (see also ‘real cost’ below)

         Includes: Rinnai gas fired, tankless, water heater:  $1,159.03

Rinnai Hydronic Furnace:  donated

Uponor underfloor heating track system: $5,225.05

Installation of whole-house plumbing, w/toilets, showers, sinks, etc.

Here is our commendation:  Rick and Ed at North Star were  instrumental in encouraging donations or wholesale from Rinnai corporation and Uponor. We believe their efforts saved us $4662.92 in the plumbing department:

*Real Cost of Energy Systems

Air Handler, Rinnai,  donated        $1,800       = savings:  $1,800

Tankless Water heater, wholesale: $1,159.03   original cost $2,317  = savings:  $1,157.97

Uponor, wholesale: $5,225.05       original cost $6,930     =savings:   $1704.95

                       Savings total (donated value):     $4,662.92


Hvac and Air Conditioning

Ozark Mountain Air: $6,131.22

Includes:  2Ton 2 stage Rheem Air conditioner: $2718

Ductwork, labor

Natural State Insulation:  (discounted)   $4255.00

Includes:  Attic blow -in, 12”   $975

Visqueen in crawlspace,  plus open cell foam under floor     $1890

3” open cell exterior wall insulation $1390

Hanke Brothers Windows: (50% off  retail) $4865

Includes: Low E, Argon filled, double pane, 2 sliding doors and 7 windows

EcoVantage Skylights (2)     $858.25

Home Energy Consultants: RESNET rating (discounted  rate) $530.85

Price of Happy Hollow,  purchased  August 2010:      $74,000

Price of Energy efficient Improvements:                     $31.102.47

Total:   $105,102.47

 Summary:  Since houses in the neighborhood of Happy Hollow appraise for $107,000-$114,000, our total is acceptable to the investment.

The HERS Index clocked in at 51 (down from 118!)  That means this house is 67% more efficient than it was originally. Utility bills (electricity, gas, water) projected at $600 annually.

The house received an Energy Star rating of 5+ stars (the highest)

Ahhhh    but this is not the end of the story.  You see, the house was not habitable when we bought it.  Sooo….how much more money did it take?  Was it worth it?  Did we commit the unforgivable sin and overprice the house for the neighborhood?   Da Da Da Dah….Stay tuned….

So, we have discussed some of the financial nitty gritty on the actual Energy Updates made to Happy Hollow and came to the conclusion that $31,191.42 was spent on the energy upgrades.

Do you recall?  Here’s how that first blog ended:

 “Ahhhh    but this is not the end of the story.  You see, the house was not habitable when we bought it.  Sooo….how much more money did it take?  Was it worth it?  Did we commit the unforgivable sin and overprice the house for the neighborhood?   Da Da Da Dah….Stay tuned….”

…and now for the rest of the story:

 We herewith post the summary of our total expenses in renovating the house at 226 S. Happy Hollow Road.

The good: The house was completely renovated from the ground up for $97 per square foot.  Plus, the  practical life experience gained.

The bad: The house is now worth $146,125.74, which is a figure we will not recover in the current housing market.  Also, practical life experience gained.

 The Ugly:  No wages for Lauren or myself for the duration. And…. the practical life experience gained.

Summary of expenses:     226 S. Happy Hollow

                                                Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701  

Energy Star Rating: 5+ Stars

Estimated Annual Utilities: $600/yr


August 2010 – November 2011


Purchase Price:   $74,000.00

Energy Updates: $31,191.42 (See blog, Dec 3,2011   Cost of Energy Efficient Improvements or “Trip around the Solar System without the budget of NASA”for that breakdown)

Sub-Total: $105,191.42


Permits and required:  $634.66

Permits were only about half this sum. This includes $300 in Port-a-Pot  rental  fees .  This  portable toilet  rental was a requirement of the demolition permit. (See blog dated Aug 21, 2010  Government Permits or “They want us to order a Port-a-potty!?”).

Demolition: $1,949.07

Includes: rental of dumpsters and subsequent removal and disposal/landfill charges.

We filled: 1-70 yard, 1-40 yard and two 6 yard dumpsters with the tear out. We have subsequently found that we are allowed to burn in the backyard and feel that we could have burned half of this mess and saved the landfill.

Roofing: $4,000

Includes: labor and installation.  Tear off we did ourselves.(See Blog dated Oct 3, 2010   Roofing or “Work Smart, Not Hard” does not Equal “Do it Yourself,                    Save Money)

Foundation and Drainage: $3,699.03

Includes:  Rim joist repair, termite protection, jacking up the house, French and curtain drains as well as gutters and downspouts. (See the blog dated, Sept 22,2010 The First Ugly Surprise “updated” or “Here Lies Jack”  )

Masonry:  $1,755.00

Includes: point tucking the cracks and opening two window openings to become sliding door openings.

Carpentry:  $9,187.26

Includes: all wood working supplies and two important subcontracts: ‘Drywall, mud and texture’ and ‘Trim out with door hanging’.  All other carpentry was done by ourselves.

Electrical:  $1,709.73

Includes only materials and lights and bulbs.

Plumbing: $427.27

Includes: misc parts

Why is this so low!!!  Because, the entire plumbing is covered under the “Energy Updates” since most of our system revolves around water circulation. That total :  $10,338.34

North Star Plumbing in Springdale was our most excellent contractor for this project.

Here is a commendation:  Rick and Ed at North Star were instrumental in encouraging donations or wholesale from Rinnai corporation and Uponor.  We believe the value of their efforts saved us $4662.92 in the plumbing department.

Finishing: $4,980.64

Includes:  The kitchen cabinets from Lowes (See blog,   The Value of Shopping or “Lowes Knows” dated  Nov. 30, 2011) and the countertops as well as paint, and light woodworking.

Floor Coverings: $3,871.68

Includes :    Laminate flooring, $1,524

Carpet,                        $1,114.00

Ceramic tile as well as the higher end, Schluter Ditra underlayment

Appliances:  $4,896.29

Includes: Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Range, Microwave, Clothes Washer and Drier, toilets, showers, vanities, etc.

Rebates:  (+$167.04)

Includes a rebate from the manufacturer of the dishwasher and miscellaneous metal recycling.

As mentioned in the blogs dated  June 4, The Catch 22 of  ”Going Green” Remodels or “Breaking Ground Can   Cause You to Fall Through the Cracks” and July 1 of 2011,  Update on the Rebates…”And for all else, there’s Mastercard”    we didn’t receive a penny from any other agency, Federal, State or Local, not SWEPCO, not  Source Gas. (We’re convinced that all that hot air could solve the energy crisis if you could tap into it).

Supplies: $3,990.73

Includes: Everything else we bought from saws to safety goggles.

Total: $146,125.74




What did we learn from this project?  We found and subsequently created a really good ‘recipe’ for tackling energy renovation on a budget, start to finish. While implementing  the ‘whole enchilada’ will cost you about $30K, we can break this down into manageable steps which can be spread out over many months, or years, to fit your budget.  Each step will build on the next.

We  believe that the implementation of the solar water heating/supplement gas water heating system, which could be done for about $15,000, could be the plausible core of an energy makeover, with the best payback in our Moderate climatic zone for many of these 30-40 year old, well built Ranch style houses on the market.

In about a week, after this blog has run its course and been digested, (or treated with antacids), we will post our step by step recommendations for how we would do this the second time around.  The steps are progressive and the process can be paused at any time to allow for budgets before continuing. With each step, we will try to analyse the cost of that step as compared to projected increase in energy efficiency gained by doing it.

Here’s  a taste to whet your appetite:

Step one:   Well, all you blog readers already instinctively knew this one. Our most all time popular blog was:  (March 14th,   Energy Efficient Lighting or “Trash the Cans?”).

Therefore: Replace the light bulbs with LED or CFLs.  (don’t let the simplicity of this step fool you, we were impressed at the difference).


Step two:  Don’t touch that dial, stay tuned.

Posted by: greenpinkies | November 11, 2011

Peoples Choice Award-Time to get out the vote!

Peoples Choice is where the general public has a say in picking their favorite remodeling or new home project out of the posted finalists for the EVHA competition. The project that accumulates the most votes will win the Peoples Choice award at the banquet on February 8,2012.

Dear DYI’rs, we would love for you and your friends to vote for our project.

Peoples’ Choice Voting Instructions:

So, the entries are now posted on the website below. Any computer IP address is allowed only one vote. Very simply, review the different choices of both new and remodeled homes for this year’s competition. Look at their pictures and the stats.

The GreenPinkies entry is house choice  #7

(After you press the submit button, you will no longer be able to access the pictures of the finalists so we recommend that you do all your looking before hand).

One last request: once you vote, tell all your friends! (This is one of those instances when ‘viral’ is a good thing this fall).

Thanks, Your GreenPinkies

Oh, almost forgot: in case you missed the Channel 5 news report about this remodeled house project, which aired on Sept. 19th, here is the link:


Posted by: greenpinkies | October 23, 2011


We Green Pinkies are pleased to announce that our Happy Hollow House Retrofit project was selected as one of the finalists in the Energy Value Housing Award sponsored by the National Home Builder’s Association!  We have been invited to receive either a gold or silver award at the February 2012 convention of the NHB held in Orlando, Florida.  At that time the top awards will be given out.

One of those awards is ‘Peoples’ Choice’.  This is where all of you can cast your vote for our project.  We will inform you all when the voting is open.  It is done by each person selecting a house from a list posted on-line.  The voting will begin sometime around mid-November.  We will certainly post the details when and where you all can cast your ballots as soon as we know them.

…And this leads to an interesting thought:  Although we, GreenPinkies, are a mother/daughter team representing Northwest Arkansas for the existing home category, there is also a father/son team, Stitt Energy, building energy efficient houses up in the Bentonville area, who have  been selected as finalists in the new home category.  What a great thing if we could sweep the competition for both new and existing homes for Northwest Arkansas!

Last thought, for those who missed the Mitch Roberts, Channel 5  News story about the GreenPinkies on September 1st,  here is the link:

It is a 2 minute synopsis of what we did with the house.  (complete with a free commercial message from a local Fayetteville business).  Enjoy!


Posted by: greenpinkies | September 8, 2011

People’s Choice Award

Where do we cast our vote for People’s Choice???!

Good question.

GreenPinkies do not know the answer to this question yet, either.  What’s more, we have embarked on a vacation.  When we know of anything or news of when and where to put your vote, we’ll post it here, we’ll let you know.  Stay tuned and see you when we get back!!


Posted by: greenpinkies | August 3, 2011

And They’re Off! Our Entrance to the EVHA Was Accepted!

Greetings to all!

At one point or another, all of you have helped us out or worked with us in this year-long project – renovating an abused existing home and giving it a new life.  Not just any life, mind you, but a ‘green’ one!  In light of that, our aim was to submit our Happy Hollow house into the EVHA 2012 National competition.  A competition that supports the building or renovating/retrofitting of sustainable, energy saving houses.  The deadline was Friday, July 29th.
We are here to inform you that our entry submission was successful!  And the application is very strong.  We look forward to being able to update you again in the future. In September, we will be informed of winners in the first round and there is a banquet in February where they will announce the finalists.  That is all we know for now.  Thank you again for all of your hard work!
Lauren and Kim Kuenzel
GreenPinkies, LLC
PS – Some neat facts about our house:
The HERS Index clocked in at 51 (down from 118!)  That means this house is 67% more efficient than it was originally. Utility bills (electricity, gas, water) projected at $600 annually.
The house received an Energy Star rating of 5+ stars (the highest)
For the month of June, running air conditioning, our electricity bill was $25!

“It was a beauteous evening, calm and free…. July 14, 2011  Happy Hour@Happy Hollow, one of our three milestones was accomplished.

Cocktail hour!

The house is now 90% finished and furnished and we scrambled to put the finishing touches on a get-together, a Thank You party for our loyal co-workers.

We sent out invitations:


At 5pm the guests arrived. These are the contractors who had put the most effort into helping us out.  In fact, in this gathering of 20 or so people was assembled some of the finest character in Fayetteville.  We say this because every one of those people were ones who were excited by our project of making this house come to life again in a more environmentally friendly way. These are the enthusiastic ones, the ones willing to give to make it work. People who are of the character that you’d want to have as neighbors.

This project had the effect of combing through Fayetteville and gathering the best together.  And, because they were now all in one place, there was opportunity to meet and trade businesscards and network.  Some of these tradesmen had only heard of one another but not met before.

Conversation and trading cards

We had a photographer on hand to get pictures of all our people.  Would you like to meet them?

Here’s the instigator of this whole thing: Robert Webb of Crye Leike Realtors.  He’s the one who showed us the house and suggested it might have some interesting potential

We had Gary Kahanak of Home Energy Consultants, William couldn’t be with us.

Ken of Ozark Mountain Air, our HVAC contractors, Bob couldn’t be with us.











North Star Plumbing with Ed, Brent and Rick





We couldn’t resist, they looked so nice!!


Mike and Bill of Campbell electric.

Note: Mike gets the “pulled the best joke on us award”.  The day of the party, he called us on the phone, disguising his voice, and told us that he was from the City of Fayetteville and that we were in violation of Fayetteville Ordinances requiring a $250 parking permit and liquor license for all cocktail parties in city limits! Yes friends, for a few speechless moments, we believed him!)



John Gerrard of Sun City Solar

Karen, representing Lowe’s

…and Yours Truly, Kim and Lauren of GreenPinkies

Posted by: greenpinkies | July 17, 2011

Know your local tradesmen, or Locavore!

So, do you know this word, “Locavore”?

Here’s what Wikipedia says, in part; “Local food…is a “collaborative effort to build more locally based, self-reliant food economies…”

In other words, there is a movement to buy food from local growers in an effort to improve efficiency and cut waste and get good quality, known food products.

This applies to and is a major factor in the success of home remodels too.  Learn a few local tradesmen and continue to do business with them. By their own word they will tell you that, once they get to know you and your dealings, they will put more and more priority on your projects.

Ozark Mountain Air and Hanke Brothers Windows agreed to help us out on the Happy Hollow project simply because we had been really regular customers of theirs.

Bob and Ken of Ozark Mountain Air put in our first system ten years ago.  Since then they have been out for maintenance and other small things and have seen my kids grow from pre-teen to young adult. We, in turn, have watched Ken slowly passing the reins to Bob. Now they have the heating and cooling contract on my son’s house as well as now Lauren’s Happy Hollow House. A few more years and they will be watching my grandchildren grow from pre-teen to young adults to start their own house contracts with Ozark Mountain Air…. and, in turn, Bob will be passing the reins to someone else.

What does this stable, grass roots continuum of life gain for a consumer?  First place on the emergency job orders if everyone’s air conditioners go out at once? Or, a really enthusiastic tradesman when it comes to an unusual request?

Try: a sense of community, camaraderie and friendship with our neighbors.

We now understand that this applies more and more to banks and loan operations too.

The Happy Hollow House has no comparables to be found within a 6 mile radius.  Therefore no banks would refinance the house on the secondary market for the low interest rates.  No, the Federal Government loan agencies won’t touch it.  Sure, one local bank was willing to do an ‘in-house’ loan for, perhaps, maybe, sort of, some of the value….at 6-8% (But who wouldn’t be willing to carry a loan at that interest rate!).

So, we went local again…..and found success:  A private investor, who was looking for more that 1.5% on his $100,000.00.  So, both of us benefited as we mortgaged the house to a private benefactor for the next three years at 5%. (added benefit: no closing costs, only an Escrow officer and recording fee).

Maybe in three years there will be comps?

In fact, here we will get on our ‘soap box’ and make a speech:

 There are many houses to be bought out there in Fayetteville.  You know, the older ones, about 30+years old.  (These are the perfect candidates for a remodel, in our opinion).   But, the banks are sitting on the money. It is very hard to qualify for loans.  (On our last refinance with Bank of America last year, I had to submit so much personal paperwork that I thought they were going to ask for my second grade report card to explain why I had gotten an Unsatisfactory on my “Puffy the Penguin” Project!)

But, there is a local resource yet again:  Owner Financing.  Yes, there are older people coming up on retirement living in those 30+ year old houses. They would like to sell them, and they are interested in getting some reasonable interest for their money and they would like a steady income during retirement.

Here again is a ‘win,win’ situation with the right combination of the locavore mentality.  Perhaps we will all develop again an extended family, a community spirit.  Supersized is not always better.




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