Saving Green with Energy-Efficient Building Products
you're in the market for a new home, make sure you carefully examine
the houses you visit to see which building products installed in the
home can help save on your long-term energy bills. Choosing a home
constructed with energy efficient and easy maintenance products can help
keep the "green" in your home ... and in your wallet.
"Look beyond the number of bedrooms and bathrooms when visiting homes
for sale," says Mark Clement, co-host of MyFixitUpLife home improvement
talk show. "Homebuyers should walk in with a checklist that includes
seeking out ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances, windows and HVAC systems.
They should also be looking for a roof with an exceptional warranty, an
energy-efficient fiberglass entry door, and preferably an insulated
precast concrete basement. Low-maintenance exterior siding, trim
shutters and other details also play into the equation."
Clement, a professional contractor with 20+ years of experience,
believes homebuyers can save long-term funds by making smart purchasing
decisions in the beginning. "You don't buy a house for today, but a home
for tomorrow," says Clement. "You want it to last without having to
replace half of the home while you live there."
From his experience, Clement offers consumers this "take along
checklist" for evaluating homes "from the bottom up" when visiting
houses for sale:
- Basement - Look for a damp-free basement. A
fantastic situation is a foundation constructed with precast concrete
wall panels rather than poured or block concrete. As opposed to concrete
blocks or poured concrete, precast concrete panels provide a dry,
comfortable, damp-resistant foundation for a home. The energy-efficient
walls help lower energy costs and reduce energy leakage while providing
increased living space in a comfortable setting.
- HVAC System - Ask about ENERGY STAR and efficiency
ratings on the furnace, air conditioning unit, boilers and heat pumps
in any home you look at. Ideally you want products that have the "ENERGY
STAR Most Efficient" designation. This special classification
recognizes the most efficient products in these categories, which can
help you save on energy bills.
A second inspection by an HVAC professional may also pay for itself
in a few months of utility bills. HVAC systems are often over or
undersized. Ductwork that's too small takes a trained eye to spot. In
other words, even if a furnace's rating is 98 percent efficient, if the
ducts it runs into are too small the unit will never run at peak
efficiency --- and you'll pay for it in your utility bills.
- Entry door - As you look at the home's main entry
door, determine what the door is made of. A solid fiberglass door is up
to four times more energy efficient than a solid wood door, plus you get
the benefits that fiberglass has to offer, including resistance to rot,
rust, dings and weather.
Touch the door and check for drafts around the perimeter. If the door
feels hot or cold, there may not be enough adequate insulation in its
construction. And, look carefully at the weatherstripping to make sure
it has not worn out, which can cause air leakage. Also look for bubbling
or faded paint at the edges, rust or other signs of wear. If a door
needs to be replaced, consider the fiberglass entry doors in the
Therma-Tru® Classic-Craft® line. They can come with woodgrain for
staining or a smooth surface that can be painted to accent any home
- Siding - Look carefully at all sides of the home
exterior to see if there is any rotting, warpage, loose or missing
pieces or signs of termite damage on the siding. A properly installed
cladding should provide years of low-maintenance, comfort and quiet
service. Fiber cement, stucco and brick home exteriors are a few options
that are traditionally easy to maintain while providing a long-lasting,
- Windows - Determine when the windows were last
replaced in the home and what type of framing material is used. One way
to tell their age is to operate them. They should open, close and lock
smoothly. Ideally, you're looking for vinyl-framed windows which are
extremely easy to maintain. Vinyl is an excellent insulator, and some of
the best windows have fusion-welded corners and multi-chambered
construction for increased energy efficiency.
Many manufacturers offer ENERGY STAR qualified glass packages with
Argon or Krypton gas fill. These harmless gasses help prevent the
penetration of ultraviolet rays into the home and help keep a home
cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, resulting in lower energy
bills for the homeowner.
- Trim - Examine the trimwork, porch railings,
shutters, louvers and other exterior decorative features on the home. If
these are poorly installed or made with substandard products, you may
find signs of rotting, insect infestation or the need for repainting or
repair. Seek out urethane trim products that are resistant to weather
conditions, humidity, rotting and insects. These decorative products
offer years of beauty without the hassles of ongoing maintenance.
- Roof - Look up at the roof and search for curling,
broken, missing or fading shingles. Ask about the age and material of
the roof, and about the roof's warranty. Stay away from natural,
untreated wood shake roofs that can be a fire hazard or those roofing
materials that can be damaged by hail, insects or severe weather.
Look for a roof that has a strong warranty to assure you won't be replacing the roof often.
Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.