Is It Easy Being Green? 5 Common Questions & Simple Answers About Energy Efficiency

When buyers start searching for their new home, they are looking for the best value for their money. Energy efficiency is an important part of building and living in a new home. The home building industry understands that saving energy is important to the planet and can save homeowners a significant amount of money on their utility bills. Since the country began focusing on saving energy and using sustainable, eco-friendly resources, and entirely new vocabulary has worked its way into discussions between new home shoppers and home builder sales representative.


How much money can I save if my home is energy efficient? The answer to this, of course, varies with the type and size of home you’re buying and what type of home you’re comparing costs with. However, the savings can be significant when you add them up over time. Here are a few examples; a CFL light bulb will cost about $10 to buy and operate over the course if it ?s life compared to the $40 it will cost to light your home with incandescent lights. An energy efficient clothes washer can save a homeowner about $45 per year in utility bills compared to a standard washer. Energy efficient air conditioners can save 8% annually on utility bills. Radiant barrier in the attic of a new home can save the resident 10% per month on heating bills, and attic insulation with an R-value of 38 will save you $170 per year in some climates over R-15 insulation. Another important thing to consider is that an energy efficient home will be easier to sell when the time comes!


Are sustainable building materials better than traditional materials? There is a lot of information on the internet about green or sustainable building materials. Sadly, much of it is motivated heavily by the point of view of the author. Often, sustainable building materials are very similar to the products that we use today, they’re just fabricated using different techniques or materials. Wood flooring can be created in a sustainable (or even ?green?) way or in a very wasteful way. If you believe in using as m any sustainable or green products as possible in your home, do a little research on the companies that are providing the materials, or you can even call them up and ask. There are a few reasons but among the most important is that m any people are very environmentally consciousness and want to feel good about the materials they’re using, the effect that harvesting and creating these materials had on the planet, and they want to make sure that they’re not harming resources for future generations. If these things are important to you and your family, you can put as m any sustainable or green materials into your new home as you’d like.


Do I pay more for a green home? The short answer is yes, but it’s a complicated short answer. There are almost as m any answers to this question as there are websites, and sadly, the data is tough to verify because just like any other product, there are different degrees of “green” as well as higher and lower quality levels of these products. Let’s face it, at some point, all homes will have some degree of green built into them and the only choice we’ll have is how much green we want to invest in a green home. Many of the current websites indicate that a green home can cost an average of 9% higher than a com parable non-green home. The challenge is that you really can’t find any homes built without green building products or appliances anymore. The easiest way to com pare green homes to other homes is to com pare them to homes that were built ten or twenty years ago before much of this technology was available. Today, you may be able to get an older home at far less than a 9% discount compared to a new home, but you’ll probably have to do significant renovating on the property, or you’ll spend a great deal on utility bills while you live there. So, while you may spend more for a green home, it will probably actually cost less to live in it!


Should I xeriscape my lawn? If you live in an arid region, you should consider xeriscape landscaping for your lawn. The low water plants will thrive better in this environment, and very often these areas have water restrictions on lawn watering that could adversely impact plants that require large amounts of water to survive.


Which insulation is best f or me? The best answer to this is that a few different types of insulation may be the best choice. Attics often need the most insulation to escape heat loss, and therefore the fiberglass insulation with a high R-value may be the best way to save money. In most cases, for the interior walls of your home, you’ll have a few choices. Rolled, fiberglass insulation is cost-effective, holds its shape over m any years, is easy to install and repair if there is a water leak, but can retain moisture and contribute to mold growth. Blown in insulation is easy to install, can be excellent for odd shaped areas or can be easily added over rolled insulation to increase the R-value though it does have a tendency to settle over time and may need to be re-blown after several years. Cellulose insulation is  made of recycled materials, has m any of the advantages of blown in insulation, it has excellent R-value, some is cheaper, there is a lower risk of mold and insects, but it is heavier than other types of insulation and can create dust in the home. Foam insulation is great for odd shaped areas, can create airtight seals around studs and framing joints, it adds some structural strength to the building, reduces the likelihood of  old and is a great sound buffer. Spray foam is costlier than the other types of insulation. It takes longer to install and is a bit messier though this shouldn’t be a problem with a new home.


Learning the ins and outs of energy efficiency is worth a homebuyer’s time and effort. Understanding the benefits of being green may end up with green being a new home buyer’s  “favorite color!”

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