Home Builders Association of Western Ma - It is nearly impossible these days to open the newspaper and notsee a story about the rapid growth of green building, where newhomes are built using materials that conserve energy andenvironmental resources. In fact, a recent survey of home buildersby the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and McGraw HillConstruction found that by 2010 one of every ten homes built willbe "green".
Homeowners of green homes said in another survey that they werehappier 85 percent of the time with their new green home than withtheir previous, more traditionally built ones, due in part to thelower operating and maintenance costs that come withenergy-and-resource-efficient homes.
But for the 120 million existing homes in the United States,remodeling is the only way for homeowners to incorporate green.NAHB Remodelers offers the following suggestions to homeowners whowant to increase their home's efficiency, decrease costs, and takeadvantage of the other benefits that green offer.
Install maximum insulation in the area to be remodeled.
Forty percent of the energy consumed in a typical house goes toheating and cooling. Adding insulation is an easy way to increaseefficiency. Insulation is rated by its ability to resist heat flow,commonly known as "R-value." The higher the R-value, the better itsability to resist heat flow. Adding insulation will help saveenergy costs, increase comfort by better controlling temperature,and improve indoor air quality by eliminating many gaps throughwhich dirt, duct, and other impurities can enter.
Install high-efficiency windows instead of those that just meet the energy code.
Ordinary window glass transmits ultraviolet heat rays from thesun, which can increase your air conditioning bill dramatically.ENERGY STAR windows can help control this effect. These windows mayhave two or more panes of glass, warm-edge spacers between thepanes, improved framing materials, and microscopically thin metalor metallic oxide layers deposited on windows to reduce radiativeheat flow.
Seal all exterior penetrations in the area being remodeled.
You can reduce cold air drafts and heat loss by inspecting yourhome from the inside and outside and plugging cracks or openings.Be sure to check the areas where window frames meet the structureor siding of the house. Use caulking to seal all small cracks onnon-moving surfaces and weather stripping on windows, doors andother movable parts of the home.
Purchase only ENERGY STAR-rated appliances.
ENERGY STAR-rated appliances, ranging from dishwashers andrefrigerators to computers and televisions, meet strict energyefficiency guidelines set by the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy.Qualified refrigerators, dishwashers and vent fans incorporateadvanced technologies that use 10-50 percent less energy and waterthan standard models, more than making up for the slightly highercosts of these products.
Install low-flow water plumbing fixtures.
In the average home, flushing toilets accounts for some 30percent of water usage. By using low-flow plumbing fixtures such astoilets, facet aerators and showerheads, you can save up to 25percent of that water compared to conventional fixtures whileproviding the same utility.
Upgrade to an ENERGY STSR-rated or tankless water heater.
Tankless water heaters provide hot water on demand at a presettemperature rather than storing it. Replacing an electric waterheater with a solar model can reduce costs by up to 80 percent ayear. Over its 20-year lifespan a solar heater will prevent morethan 50 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. A low-cost option is towrap insulation around your heater, which can reduce standby heatlosses 25 to 45 percent.
Purchase the highest efficiency HVAC system you can afford.
Over a ten year period, the average home owner spends more than$10,000 for heating and cooling. Installing high efficiency ENERGYSTAR HVAC equipment can reduce utilities costs on average by ten to30 percent over minimum efficiency equipment. It also can improvehome comfort with more heating and cooling and a quieter operation,and often features higher quality components that result in longerequipment life.
For more information on green remodeling, visit www.nahb.org/remodel.