Your New Favorite Color Might Be “Green”
Choosing the right building materials can drastically improve your home’s efficiency—no matter your budget!
When renovating an existing home or constructing a new one, the choice of materials used is one of the most important factors when thinking of long-term benefits to your wallet. Today’s builders now have a vast array of materials, components, and techniques at their disposal to maximize the efficiency of your home. Tired of paying huge electricity bills? Read on to discover how you and your contractor can implement technologies to improve your home’s efficiency and lower your monthly bills.
Insulation: One of the most important and most cost-effective ways to improve the energy performance of your home is by using the correct insulation. When building a new home, state and local building codes typically include minimum insulation requirements, but an energy-efficient home will more than likely exceed those mandates.
To properly insulate a new home, the builder will need to know where to insulate and the recommended R-values—a measurement for how well the insulation prevents heat loss via conduction—for each of those areas. A knowledgeable builder, familiar with energy-efficient construction, will be able to choose the best insulation for your home.
In an existing home, you should first seek a professional to identify and repair areas in your home where air leaks through unintended gaps and cracks. Air can enter or exit your home via recessed lights; open stud cavities; around windows, doors, flues, and chimneys; and the attic access door. Once this process is complete, a contractor can work with you to add any necessary insulation to greatly improve energy efficiency and drastically improve heating and cooling costs.
Windows: Consider using Low-E windows in your existing home or new construction. The “E” in low-E stands for emissivity. A clear coating of metallic oxide on these windows keeps the heat inside the house in the winter and outside in the summer. These windows typically cost between $60 and $110 each which is 10 to 15% more than clear glass storm windows, but they can reduce heat flow by half—reducing heating costs by 10 to 20% according the NAHB Research Center.
It’s worth noting that proper installation of your windows is crucial. Even the most expensive window unit won’t perform effectively if it’s not installed correctly.
Flooring: The type of flooring you choose to place in your home can also save energy and money. Carpet can trap heat and keep your home much warmer during the cold winter months. Rugs can also trap heat in certain areas. Consider removing carpet in an existing home and replacing it with eco-friendly vinyl flooring—an excellent alternative to linoleum or ceramic tile. It’s easy to install and affordable. This type of flooring is also more hygienic as it prevents the growth of bacteria and does not hold dust mites.
With a new home construction, work with your builder to determine what flooring will work best for you. You may want to consider a hydronic radiant floor heating system as an efficient heat source. These systems use water-filled tubing situated under the floor, delivered by a boiler, to provide an even distribution of heat.
Choosing the right flooring for your home is an inexpensive way to save on climate-control costs, particularly if you think carefully about the flooring you choose to install.
Exterior doors: Choosing the right exterior door for a home should be a carefully thought-out decision. First consider the doors’ energy-performance ratings which let you know how well it does in preserving the energy by trapping heat or cool air inside. In this way, you’ll be able to narrow down your selections and find the door that best matches your wants and needs.
Replacing exterior doors in an existing home is an easy and fast way to immediately improve energy efficiency. Once again, proper installation is key—it’s best to hire a professional to ensure the new doors you’ve purchased deliver maximum efficiency.
“Cool” roofs: This type of roof is designed to reflect sunlight and lower roofing temperatures. Cool roofs are made from a type of reflective material within roofing materials such as tiles, shingles, paint, or other substances. This energy-saving technique is ideal for houses in warm climates where air conditioning costs are high all year around.
Standard or dark roofs, like those found on most existing homes, can reach temperatures of 150°F or more in the summer sun. A cool roof under the same conditions could stay more than 50°F cooler according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The good news is that a cool roof does not necessarily cost more than a non-cool roof—especially if you’re installing a new roof or replacing an existing one.
To receive additional information on improving your home’s energy efficiency, or to inquire about reconstruction, renovation, or a new building project, contact the team of experts with over 30 years of experience at Tarheel Associates, Inc. by calling (252) 633-6452.