Home Energy Efficiency – The Best Way To Control Costs

A couple of months ago, an elderly couple in Maine received a lot of press from the New York Times when they offered their car as collateral for heating oil to heat their home.  This article and other media attention brought in $200,000 to help pay the couples heating bill according to a recent Sun Journal article.  However this money went to fix the problem by weatherizing the home to make it more energy efficient, not just fueling the energy hog.

I bring up this article because almost every home can be improved upon in terms of energy efficiency and conservation with some simple weatherization work, or in other cases major retrofits.  In mostly older homes cutting the energy usage can be rather simple and cost effective with weatherization work such as air sealing and insulation in both the walls and attics.  For newer homes, it is a little more costly to get the same kind of reductions; at that point you are looking at deep energy retrofits. However this is one reason why I started my “Energy Hog” series on improving the energy efficiency of my own home, as most home owners don’t know where to begin.

Now even though the strategies may be different, do you know what new and older homes have in common.  They were built to the standards of the time, not really looking into the future of energy costs.  And even though new homes today are much more energy efficient than newer ones, most are built to the current building code minimums.  These minimum energy efficiency standards are just that, minimums.  Anything less and it would be illegal to build.  What this really means for a home owner is that when the energy efficiency standards in the state change, there will be need for improvements to meet these updated standards.  For instance the State of Ohio uses the 2006* International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), yet the U.S. Department of Energy has released the 2012 IECC which is estimated to be 30% more energy efficient.  So if the 2012 energy code was adopted tomorrow, your home that completed construction yesterday would be 30% less energy efficient than the house that starts construction tomorrow.  It is because of these homes that don’t meet the current minimum energy efficiency standards that we have Weatherization Assistance Programs and utility sponsored programs to bring homes up to at least to the current minimum efficiency standards.

So why do so many design and build to the minimum standards?  For the cost of an “upgrade” in the envelope with higher insulation values, you are ensuring your home will be saving you money for the life of the home.  So ask your designer or builder if they are looking into the future and not only minding your money now in the design and construction of your home, but your future money to operate the home.

*Update;  Ohio adopted the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) which took effect January 1st, 2013.

How Energy Efficient Is My Home? | GreenBuildingAdvisor.com

How Energy Efficient Is My Home? | GreenBuildingAdvisor.com

Posted on Aug 25 by Lynn Underwood, GBA Advisor

A newly adopted provision in the 2006 edition of the International Residential Code (IRC) requires that a permanent certificate be posted on the electrical distribution panel. This certificate is for the express purpose of identifying the efficiency of various energy components of the home and must include the following:

energy efficiency certificate

energy efficiency certificate

  • The predominate R-value of insulation in ceiling/roof, walls, foundation, crawl space wall, and floor;
  • U-factors for windows, skylights, etc. (where there is more than one value, the value covering the largest area must be listed);
  • The solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of windows, skylights, etc. (again, where there is more than one value, the value covering the largest area must be listed);
  • The types and efficiencies of heating, cooling, and water heating equipment.
  • Continue reading the article at Greenbuildingadvisor.com

    Home Builders Green Washing – Energy Efficiency

    I return to blogging with a rant that has been rankling with the home building industry.  Again, I know it is not good to burn bridges, but the home building industry is taking advantage of the uneducated home buyer so they can make some extra money.  This is all in regards to their claims of energy efficiency.

    Builder Energy Efficiency Claims

    Builder Energy Efficiency Claims

    I borrowed this image from a home builder here in Ohio (I removed any reference to the company’s name).  Take a look at what they are claiming that is going to protect our investment and on another page our environment.  They even created their own cute little “Energy Wise” logo.  The materials listed are standard building materials found in every building in the United States.  And don’t get fooled by the Thermo-ply, its name has nothing to do with thermal efficiency, it more of an air barrier.  Standard structural sheathing has a higher R-Value.  The SEER rating on the air conditioning unit is the minimum size you can even purchase now.  The biggest kicker is the insulation levels that they state.  If you see the attached chart from the Ohio Building Code, R-38 ceiling and R-13 is code minimum for climate zone 4. Well most of Ohio is Climate zone 5.  So that R-13 does not cut it according to the chart. Still time after time I see homes going up everywhere that is 2×4 wall construction and no exterior insulation.  I mean the easiest thing a builder can do is to switch to 2×6 wall construction.

    TABLE 1102.1 INSULATION AND FENESTRATION REQUIREMENTS BY COMPONENT

    TABLE 1102.1 INSULATION AND FENESTRATION REQUIREMENTS BY COMPONENT

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