Spotlight on: Superinsulated Homes


Throughout the month of August we are highlighting the programs and services offered by National Affordable Housing Network (NAHN). Each is important and unique and we want to be certain that our readers are aware of all of the great opportunities that NAHN has available. If you missed the previous post about Self Help Homes, be sure to read it here.

Today’s post is about the kind of home that NAHN builds and how it saves the homeowner money.

As you know, NAHN works primarily with low to moderate income families to help them achieve the dream of homeownership by helping them build their own homes. Low income families are able to afford these homes because they help with 65% of the construction and can qualify for special cost saving mortgage features. But what about once they’ve moved in? How do families afford to live in the house? Heating bills in Montana in the middle of winter can easily be hundreds of dollars a month!

The answer: SUPERINSULATION (and other high performance design features)

NAHN’s Self Help Homes are special because they take affordability one large step further by building superinsulated homes, with design features that keep the home very comfortable while using very little energy. This is something that was built into the organization’s mission when it formed more than 20 years ago. The founders recognized that utility bills are a huge cost burden for a low income family. They also believed, contrary to popular belief, that dramatic improvements in housing performance are already affordable for homebuilders. Over the years, with each new superinsulated house built by a Self Help homeowner, NAHN has proven again and again that this is true. NAHN homes are affordable to buy, and because of their energy efficiency, affordable to live in. NAHN’s Self Help Homes not only help families achieve the security, safety and pride of building and owning their own home, they also ease the financial burden of housing by dramatically lowering heating bills without sacrificing warmth and comfort.

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Every home built with a NAHN house plan heats and cools mostly passively, or on its own. Thicker-than-normal walls surround the extra insulation (why they’re called superinsulated) and tight seals throughout the house eliminate drafts and heat loss. NAHN’s homes are entirely electric, featuring high wall-mounted radiant cove heaters that mimic the way the heat of the sun feels on your skin. Every room has its own thermostat, giving the homeowner complete control over how much energy they use and how warm or cool each room is. Bedrooms can be adjusted according to each family member’s preference and rooms that aren’t used often can be kept cooler. Every home also has a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), which filters in fresh outdoor air and pushes out stale indoor air. The incoming air is also heated by the warm outgoing air, another money saving feature.

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Self Help homeowners can choose from multiple NAHN house plans, anywhere from 2 – 5 bedroom single family homes to a unit in an accessible fourplex. The look and feel of each home is unique to each family, as colors and finishes are chosen in the design and planning stage. This means no two Self Help Homes look exactly the same, but all Self Help Homes are warm, comfortable, and very affordable.

Check back to next week for a post about Housing Credit Counseling, and how you can meet a HUD-certified counselor FOR FREE to help understand your credit score and report.

National Affordable Housing Network


Established as an independent non-profit in 1994, the National Affordable Housing Network, NAHN was founded to develop resources to provide highly credible research, evaluation, design, education, information and policy and program design assistance to those working to change the way low-cost housing is built for disadvantaged Americans.