We often think only of aesthetic changes when considering a home renovation project. However, the upgrades that you don’t see on a daily basis may be the ones that improve your home and financial condition in the long run.
Just like cars, certain well-built homes can be labeled “high performance.” A high performance car is built with a strong motor, but also a braking, steering and suspension system to handle the horse power. Similarly, a high performance home is designed and built so that the HVAC system is properly sized for the living space, fresh air ventilation is used to counter air tightness and improve indoor air quality and the building envelope is designed to reduce the chance of mold growth.
While many attributes of a high performance home do reduce energy costs, they also provide a superior living environment and a sound investment. Homeowners, builders and remodelers who set their sights on a high performance home aren’t just reducing greenhouse gases, promoting energy independence, and creating jobs, they’re creating more comfortable, durable and healthy homes.
Homebuilders and remodelers are in a distinct win-win position thanks to new government incentives. By encouraging homebuyers to invest in energy efficient improvements, builders are also positioning their company as progressive, quality builders. Remodelers who can explain and help home owners cash in on incentives become a valuable ally to their customer and can attract more business and larger projects.
By being able to communicate the benefits of a high performance home to potential customers, builders and remodelers can gain a significant advantage over their local, traditionally-minded competition.
Some of the technologies and energy efficient improvements builders and remodelers can encourage are:
- Building envelope improvements. The building envelope is a continuous barrier built around, under, and above the living space of a home. The “tighter” or more complete the building envelope, the less likely water will be able to get into the walls and damage the structure or grow mold. Understanding how to properly install a successful building envelope requires training and attention to detail during construction, but the rewards to the occupant are many. A well sealed building envelope can reduce the risk of pest invasion, like termites, mitigate radon, and make a home more durable in wet, humid and cold climates.
- Insulation. Builders and home buyers are generally correct when they think insulation is all about energy efficiency, but not all insulations are created equal. Spray foam insulations can help increase structural integrity in hurricane prone areas, and also provide significant R-value to areas where regular fiberglass insulation is difficult to install. Foam board sheathing is also an excellent insulator and can be used outside the foundation walls of a basement, or on the inside walls of a crawlspace. Because foam board is also a vapor barrier, if installed snuggly with joints properly taped and caulked, foam board can work well on interior walls as well.
But insulation shouldn’t only be thought of for walls. Insulated ducts greatly reduce heat loss and can help reduce the size of HVAC equipment needed for the home, which can save the customer money during construction or retrofit. Insulating hot water lines helps with efficiency, but also means that home owners have hot water faster to the tap. Properly placed and installed insulation almost always reduces waste, improves comfort and is eligible for significant rebates.
Have your home evaluated to see what energy efficient upgrades can do for you. It will be well worth the effort!
Author:Anne Ortiz (Maximum One Realty Greater Atlanta)