There are many factors people use when determining where to buy a home. Despite the value, one consistently overlooked factor is the energy efficiency of the home. The energy efficiency or even a recent energy audit can drive the value of the home higher. According to The Appraisal Journal, for every $1 decrease in annual energy costs, the market value of a home increases by $20. If you decrease the energy costs by $300 per year, the value of the home increases by $6,000! Energy auditors often overlook this in their pitches – making energy renovations can improve the home’s marketability and resale value.
When you consider that home appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers and laundry machines account for about 13% of your home energy costs, it only makes sense to take a close look at their efficiency. High-efficiency appliances like those with Energy Star ratings not only save money in the long run, but they also benefit the environment. Case in point: In 2010, Americans saved enough power with their Energy Star-rated appliances to prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 33 million cars, which also equaled about $18 billion in utility bill savings.
Energy Star-rated appliances can have higher price tags than their standard counterparts, but you must consider the dollars you’ll save over the lifetime of the appliance, which, in most cases, more than makes up for the initial cost increase.
What is Energy Star? Read the rest of this entry »
We’re all looking to save a buck – if we can save the environment while we’re at it, even better. Over the last couple of decades, the ENERGY STAR trademark has found its way onto everything from washing machines to refrigerators to indicate the product’s ability to conserve energy and save money. More recently, the application of the ENERGY STAR to buildings and businesses has gained in popularity. Regardless of the level of involvement you attain within the ENERGY STAR Program, doing your part to ensure optimum energy performance can have widespread benefits for your business.
The Energy Star Program: An Overview
In the official words of the EPA on the Energy Star website, www.energystar.gov, the energy use of your building can be likened to that of the miles per gallon for your car: understanding what you are dealing with can help shape decisions, strategies, and even budgets. Moreover, being able to compare the energy usage of your building to other, similar buildings can help keep you on track with your energy goals.
To facilitate this comparison, the EPA has established an energy performance scale, ranging from 1-100, to determine how your building’s energy efficiency stacks up to other equivalent buildings throughout the country. To earn the ENERGY STAR, a building (or manufacturing plant) must score a 75 or higher on the performance scale, indicating that the facility operates better than at least 75% of similar buildings nationwide. In short, an ENERGY STAR certified facility meets the EPA’s strict energy performance standards, is less expensive to operate (because it is more energy efficient), and causes fewer greenhouse gas emissions than comparable facilities.
In recent years, the idea of “Green Homes” has moved beyond the niche that it once was to the mainstream because of overwhelming evidence that they benefit the homeowners’ pockets, their health and the environment. Homeowners are recognizing that building their home to be more energy efficient and healthier is a wise investment for themselves and the community. Even those who have lived in a home for a long time are having it retrofitted with sustainable features to lower their bills and improve their health. Here is a list of the top 5 features that every Green Home should have. Of course, there is no strict definition of a green home and there is unlimited creativity that can be used to make a home “green,” but these should not be missed.
1) Holistic Approach
The most important “feature” that any green home can have should be included before construction even begins. That is, an integrated, holistic approach that takes every aspect of both sustainable and traditional building knowledge into account. Seeing the building through a wide lens, as an interrelated system in which everything is considered to determine the true performance of the building is crucial to being truly “green.” The whole house approach takes often over-looked aspects into account; construction site sustainability, long-term durability, waste stream, performance monitoring, occupant health and comfort, and carbon footprint, along with the more obvious motives of energy and water efficiency.
Some like to think of each new plot of land for a new building as a small factory where, on average, 22,000 components are needed. Just like real factories are moving towards “lean manufacturing” techniques, which systematically looks at each step of the process and removes any flaws, the ideal green home will have been well thought-out and coordinated. Ideally, the designer would perform a whole-house computer simulation that compares multiple combinations of variables to arrive at the most cost-effective and sustainable solution.