Considering remodeling or building to create an energy efficient home, but are limited by your budget? I recently interviewed Steve Needle of Needle Point Homes, a twenty-four year veteran builder. Not long ago, he completed a Green Globes commercial building called The Point in Morristown, New Jersey and has built several energy efficient homes as well. I asked him if a client came to him requesting an energy efficient house, what would he recommend. Listed below are the essential building blocks of an energy efficient home according to Needle:
Location, location, location, the real estate buzz words. Pick a home to remodel or build in an area where there is an established infrastructure of transportation and easy access to mass transit.
Build a passive solar house with the proper solar orientation to take advantage of the heat from the sun in the winter. Create proper overhangs to shield the house from the sun’s heat during the summer.
Install energy efficient windows.
Frame corners using two studs so that you can pack them with insulation. See page 4 of “Advanced Wall Techniques” by the US Department of Energy.
Use backer rod around windows and doors to stop air infiltration.
Install a multi-zoned HVAC system to increase your comfort and lower your energy bills. Seal all duct work to eliminate air leakage.
Install Energy Star appliances. Check your refrigerator and freezer for energy star ratings. It may pay to replace older appliances.
Improve the quality of your water by installing filters. Fill reusable bottles with filtered water to reduce your plastic bottle consumption.
If soda is your passion, Needle recommends purchasing a seltzer machine to make your own, again, using refillable bottles. For further information about bottled water, see Green Guide’s “Bottle Water” article.
Install blinds to insulate your windows.
Install Programmable thermostats.
Recently, I read that the cost to build green is only 3-5 percent more than conventional building. I know from my own experience this is absolutely not true. Since I had Needle’s ear, I asked him his opinion. He replied that building to increase energy efficiency is more costly, which may increase the building cost, depending on the materials used. Over time, he countered, it is a long term commitment to the environment and lower operating costs for the homeowner.
I also asked him about the notion that it is cheaper to build now because of the real estate downturn. He replied this is not the case in the New Jersey area. Material costs are still the same. Perhaps, he thought this may be true in other parts of the country.
So if you are thinking of remodeling or building, follow this sound advice from a veteran builder who knows how to build energy efficient properties.
Photo courtesy of Needle Point Homes