In addition to keeping their son’s wishes alive, they saw the appeal in the cost savings that would come along with living green. “We’re on a fixed income, and we didn’t want to worry about energy costs skyrocketing,” she says.
They worked with Ryan Painter, owner of Master’s Plan Construction, to create their perfect retreat: a space with lots of natural light, several outdoor areas, room to host overnight guests and a floor plan that placed their kitchen, great room and master bedroom with views of the lake. The project was Painter’s first foray into Energy Star homebuilding, something he was eager to learn about. Soon, he knew all about the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index and the components of building an energy-efficient home. “This house actually has a HERS rating of 38, so it’s 62 percent more efficient than if you built the exact same floor plan conventionally versus the way we did it with the Energy Star strategy,” Painter says. In the heat of summer, the Hirshes’ utility bill clocks in at around $150—a minimal amount for the 5,600-square-foot home.
Construction was mostly finished in early 2015, and Barb and Joel moved in on a part-time basis while working to sell their home back in the Chicago area. The couple officially relocated to 417-land in April 2016. Since then, they have been enjoying life at the lake with warm weather, water sports and plenty of sunset views.