Real Estate Blog

Baby Steps to Greening Your Home
December 21st, 2016 10:07 AM

Energy conservation, high performance homes, and sustainable products are not a major concern for homeowners in the Hampton Roads area. Most believe the cost far outweighs the return for these items. That belief could not be further from the truth. There are simple things that can be done around your existing house to improve your home’s efficiency and help sustain the environment. By implementing these features, a homeowner will save money and have a healthier and more comfortable home.

Energy efficient upgrades that can easily be done include;

Windows - High-Performance windows with protective coatings and improved frame assemblies, also known as thermal or Low-E, allow in light but resist a temperature transfer. An annual savings of $126 - $465 can be seen when replacing single pane windows. This is an easy retrofit when it is time for an upgrade.

Insulation - Insulation should be installed in the floors, walls, and attics. Most standard built homes have fiberglass insulation in these areas. Over time the fiberglass will sag and will no longer be effective. Remove the fiberglass and use spray foam insulation to seal cracks and holes then replace the old insulation with new fiberglass or rigid foam insulation, which has the highest R-value and can be used more effectively than fiberglass. Fiberglass and blown-in insulation will need to be replaced or added to over time to maintain the efficiency.

  • Radiant barriers in attics are great in our climate. It is a thin aluminum sheet that looks like aluminum foil. It lays on top of the insulation in the attic and will block the heat from the roof to the attic, keeping it cooler and saving on air conditioning.

HVAC/Energy - All of the new heat pumps are more energy efficient than the prior models. They are quieter, can reduce humidity which improves comfort, and require less maintenance. Upgrading your heat pump when necessary will show an immediate energy savings. Sealing cracks and holes in the ‘envelope’ of the home and in the duct system, it will reduce drafts, moisture, dust, pollen, and noise. In a typical home, about 20% of air is lost in the duct system. Tightly sealed and properly insulated ducts can save a homeowner $120+/year.

  • Install a programmable thermostat if no one is home for long periods. A comfortable temperature can be programmed when the house will be occupied.
  • Many homes have an attic fan to exhaust the hot air. Install a solar powered attic fan to save on those energy costs.
  • Install light switch and outlet insulation gaskets. This could be one of the easiest and cheapest things you can do to stop air from leaking around your plugs and switches. It is a white foam gasket that is placed behind the cover plate. They cost around $0.25 each and can stop drafts from sneaking into your house!

Water Conservation - Water savings can be found by using low flow toilets and faucets. These fixtures use approximately half the water as standard fixtures and costs about the same

  • Place water barrels at the end of the gutters to catch run off for outside water use in gardens and flower beds.


Air Quality - Good air quality is a big factor in homes and one that goes unnoticed most times. Many people suffer from allergies and sinus issues. Have you ever thought that it was because of your home?

  • Many of the home goods we purchase now are full of synthetics or chemicals which give off a gas or odor which is called ‘off gassing’. Use no-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paint and products to decorate your home to avoid these chemicals.
  • Install an ultraviolet air purification system in the air ducts to kill bacteria, germs, viruses, mold, and mildew. It also eliminates odors, destroys VOC’s, and decreases dust.
  • If the envelope of your home is sealed too tightly, where odors linger in your home, this means you are not getting enough air exchanges. Use a mechanical ventilation system to increase the number air changes to prevent mold and remove gases.


If you are not sure where to start or would like to know how efficient your home currently is, get a home energy audit. The audit will show how much energy your home consumes and will tell you what you can do to improve the efficiency. There are several companies in this area that do energy audits. To learn more about the audits, go to www.energy.gov/articles/energy-saver-101-infographic-home-energy-audits.

 


Posted in:Green Your Home and tagged: Green Living
Posted by Betsy Hughes, SRA on December 21st, 2016 10:07 AMPost a Comment

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