Keys to saving energy in your home
According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the NAHB Research Center, home buyers can ensure they are getting the most energy efficiency for their dollar by asking the right questions about products and building materials. Consumers should inquire about the availability of the following features when they shop for a new home, or upgrade their existing home’s energy efficiency:
- Check for the appropriate amount of insulation for your climate in the walls, roof assembly, and floor;
- Look for high-performance, double-pane windows that have high-performance (e.g., low-e coated or solar control spectrally selective) glass that helps reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer;
- Ask for highly efficient heating and cooling equipment. Nearly 50 percent of a typical home’s utility bill goes toward heating and cooling;
- Choose energy-efficient appliances and lighting by checking the appliance’s Energy Guide label; this label will provide an estimate of the unit’s annual operating costs;
- In some parts of the country, consumers can consider using the sun’s energy to help reduce utility bills via solar water heaters that can meet a home’s hot water needs and photovoltaic (PV) systems that can convert sunlight into electricity;
- Use hot water wisely, by turning down the water heater’s thermostat setting to 115 from 120 degrees Fahrenheit; buying an energy-efficient water heater; installing non-aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads; using the “warm” water setting on the clothes washer instead of the “hot” water setting; and setting the dishwasher to “energy saver” or “watersaver”;
- Check to ensure that the house is well sealed against air leakage. In some areas of the country, as much as 30 to 40 percent of a home’s energy load can be attributed to the leakage of outside air into the home.
For more information on how to improve the energy efficiency of new and existing homes, visit the NAHB Research Center web site at www.nahbrc.org.
Information about energy efficiency and environmental advances in new home construction is also available in the new NAHB and NAHB Research Center publication entitled Building Greener, Building Better: The Quiet Revolution.