The "Green" House Effect

Tips for making your home more eco-friendly.

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Several factors contribute to why homeowners, builders, and even energy companies are making changes to how they operate on a daily basis.

Not only has the economy shifted the mindset of the general public into pinching pennies and making the most of their dollar, it’s spawned a major trend toward “going green,” or becoming more eco-friendly.

This brought on the use of products like reusable grocery bags, fuel-efficient cars, and greener cleaning products, but what about the home? Whether you’re a first-time buyer or builder, or have no intention of moving, these tips and tricks will show you just how easy and cost-effective it is to go green.

Interest rates are at an all-time low, making it a true buyer’s market. That said, it’s also an ideal time to build, if funds permit. In terms of energy-saving techniques, custom building a home is the best way to ensure that every aspect of a home is eco-friendly. “Green [energy-efficiency] is not a feature; green is a certification, and there’s a world of difference between the two,” says Jon Ruch of Ruch Builders, a RESNET Qualified EnergySmart Builder. “An EnergyStar refrigerator is a green feature, but that doesn’t mean the house is green. A certification for a house [verified by a third-party] is what makes a home green.” These types of certifications grant every home a “HERS Score,” or Home Energy Rating System score.

In the summer, don’t lower your thermostat below 78, and in the winter not above 68. Otherwise it’s wasteful,” she says. This is where programmable thermostats are beneficial because they can be set accordingly to times of day and turn on and off based on when you know you’ll be at home.

Building a green home starts with the planning long before the foundation is ever poured, considering everything from shading from trees on the property to water line insulation underneath the home. Ruch is the only RESNET certified EnergySmart Builder in the area. “It costs maybe an extra $200 but the payback is a couple of months,” says Ruch. “The key when you’re looking at energy-efficiency is where is energy in it’s thermal form: How do I keep it where I want it and keep it out of where I don’t want it?”   


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