Energy Efficiency – Six Sensible Ideas When Evaluating a Home
Energy Efficiency Is Integral to Home Ownership – Six Sensible Ideas When Evaluating a Home
When is your home like a car?
When I shop for a new or used car, as I am right now for my 18 year old son, one of my most important concerns is energy efficiency – just how many miles per gallon will that new car get? Next to your home, a car is often considered the second largest purchase you may make in your lifetime so it is one that should be considered carefully. But what about that largest of purchases, that new home – are we as concerned with its energy efficiency as we should be? When we shop for a home is the cost of its operation – gas, water, and electricity – examined and weighed? Are we asking for recent utility bills to gauge what these costs might be? Are there ways to make your present home more energy efficient? Is it an “energy guzzler?”
A majority of houses were built prior to today’s mandated energy efficiency standards and older homes and home systems may have experienced wear and tear no longer functioning as they had at one time. Single pane windows and lack of insulation remains common in older homes; air conditioning systems wear down and lose efficiency as new technologies and materials supplant older less efficient products.
When I opened the walls of my home during our remodel some years ago we found a complete absence of insulation. No wonder we found ourselves wrapped in multiple layers during winter nights and sweltering in the summer.
Why wait to move in and then be surprised? Below is a listing of sensible green-smart house-hunting questions, courtesy of the National Home Performance Council (NHPC) that are worth being asked. They are also worth looking at if you own your home as well.
- What is the R-Value of the attic insulation? (R-Value is a measurement of thermal resistance. The higher the R-Value, the more insulated the home)
- Is there insulation in the wall?
- Are the windows double-paned? Are they low-e coated or Energy Star rated? (in my home the single pane windows are a huge source of energy loss. Some estimate it may be as much as one-third of one’s heating loss in winter)
- What is the windows U-factor? (Look for a U-factor of .35 or lower.)
- What is the SEER rating on the air conditioner? How old is it? (Look for a SEER rating of 13 or higher. The higher the rating the more efficient the unit is.)
- Has the home had a HERS (Home Energy Rating Systems) audit? (The audit will provide significant information about the costs of heating and cooling a home.) The California Association of Realtors Energy Audit Program (REAP) provides a $250 rebate on a HERS audit conducted by a certified HERS rater. Flex Your Power, is a great website listing a number of rebate programs in your area. Enter your zip code and you’ll be surprised what services and rebates are available. Contact me for more information about the rebate program and referrals for HERS raters in our area.
In 2009 my partners and I completed an award winning LEED Platinum home (LEED is a national green rating system and Platinum is the Highest certification one can attain.) Also, check out my blog about the building of our home.