Coming up next week the Lodi Association of Realtors will be co-sponsoring the GREEN REALTOR Education Series. This is a program to educate Realtors about Home Energy Assessments, rebate programs, Energy Efficient Mortgages and much more.
You wouldn’t recognize a green home by sight, but it’s definitely something you can feel. Differences include the ease of regulating room temperatures, the cleaner indoor air and the relief of less expensive energy bills. There’s also the peace of mind of knowing you’re reducing your carbon footprint and alleviating some of the strain on the environment.
Now personally I don’t buy into all the Global Warming scare, but I definitely buy into the idea of using less fuel, lowering my utility bills and being more comfortable in my home. A green home uses and distributes energy more efficiently, and provides a healthier indoor environment for you and your family. Those important goals are achieved by applying building science principles to changing the way your whole-house system functions.
Tightening a home’s envelope with caulk, foam, gaskets, and weather stripping can greatly improve energy performance and indoor-air quality. Properly installed insulation. Whether it’s batt, blown-in or sprayed material, a well-insulated home is blanketed with a continuous thermal barrier (no gaps or voids) on the exterior walls, ceiling and floors. This minimizes temperature swings, energy use and condensation and structural decay. High-efficiency windows. With special coating, improved framing materials, dual panes and better weather stripping, high-efficiency windows save energy, improve comfort, block UV rays and reduce condensation and mold build-up. Mechanical ventilation. A well-maintained ventilation system (ducts and fans) improves indoor-air quality by removing and filtering allergens, pollutants and excess moisture.
Heating. Energy Star-qualified gas furnaces are up to 15% more efficient than standard models. Sealed ducts optimize the delivery of heated air. Cooling. The higher the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), the better the operation. When properly installed, a high-performance air conditioning system requires less energy to effectively and evenly cool interior spaces. Properly sized equipment “fits” the needs of the house; it does not wastefully cycle on and off, but rather stays at peak efficiency for a higher percentage of its total run time. Water heaters. Heating water can account for 14% to 25% of a homes energy use, and high-efficiency water heaters use significantly less energy than standard models. System options include Storage (Tank), Demand (Tankless), Heat Pump and Solar.
The average home in California loses 30% of its heated and cooled air through faulty ducts. When ducts are sealed, insulated and appropriately sized, the indoor air is cleaner, the utility bills are cheaper and heating/cooling equipment lasts longer. Conditioned air is delivered at the proper velocity and quantity so that uniform air mixing is achieved, which results in uniform temperature.
Efficient light bulbs and fixtures have a positive impact on utility bills and the environment. A compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) uses about 75% less energy than a comparable standard incandescent bulb. Replacing incandescent lights with CFLs will reduce the cost of lighting by 60% to 70%. CFL’s operate at less than 100F, making them much safer than the halogen bulbs typically used in floor lamps that burn at 1000F, which poses a significant fire hazard. CFLs produce 75% less heat than standard incandescent bulbs. They help reduce cooling costs and make homes more comfortable.
From dishwashers to clothes dryers, homeowners can choose appliances that significantly boost their efforts to live greener lifestyles. Energy Star-qualified refrigerators use up to 40% less energy than a 10-year old conventional model. Energy Star-qualified clothes washers use 40% to 50% less energy and 55% less water than standard models. Energy Star-qualified dishwashers use at least 40% less energy than the federal minimum standards.
Reducing water consumption is part lifestyle, part product selection. On the lifestyle front, you can take more showers than baths, run your dish and clothes washers only when they’re full, avoid over watering your lawn, and choose more drought resistant plants. Energy Star appliances potentially cut water use in half. Low-flow showerheads reduce water use by about 45%. Low-flow toilets only use 1.6 gallons per flush instead of the conventional 3.5 to 5 gallons. Aerators attached to the ends of faucets save as much as 60% of the water flow.
A Study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for the U.S Dept of Energy found that even a basic set of home performance improvements, like insulation, ducts and weatherization, can be expected to reduce energy bills by 20%. More extensive energy upgrades have been shown to cut power use in half. Depending on how long you live in your house, these energy upgrades will eventually pay for themselves, and then start paying you back, every month.
On average, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors; yet indoor air can be ten times more polluted that outdoor air, according the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Energy-efficient products, like upgraded insulation, sealed ducts, and ventilation systems, improve indoor-air quality and the respiratory health of residents by reducing mold, allergens, dust and other biological contaminants. For families that breathe easier because they live in a greener home, we wouldn’t even attempt to put a price tag on that.
One of the featured companies in the Education Program and much of this information came from http://greenhomesolutionsbygrupe.com/. Be sure and ask your Realtor or your lender about available programs for homebuyers and current homeowners or visit the GreenHome Solutions website for more information. They do a great job.
Questions or comments can be made to Kerry Suess at firstname.lastname@example.org.