This was Kermit the frogs saying and it is so true. In the world of new home building, building green can be many things. It could mean you are using sustainable resources, like fast growing wood that is used in oriented strand board (OSB) products or carpet made out of corn byproducts. It could be how you prepare the home prior to placing the skins on the house, the siding and drywall. It could involve the types of equipment that is used for heating and cooling the home. Heating the domestic hot water or what type of dishwasher or clothes washer are installed. This can get pretty complicated and in depth and that is why consults are used to rate a new homes and double check the effectiveness of the products used. Most of the time the energy efficient criteria is thought about when considering something is green. Let’s look at those aspects of building a new home.
The most energy is consumed by lights and appliance in a home. I touched on light bulbs in a previous blog post. We discussed the use of compact florescent lights or CFL’s as well as the LED lights. Both are pretty good replacements for the standard light bulb but use less than 15% of the energy. For cooking the energy efficiency is in the user’s technique. If you want to boil water or bake cake it is hard to cut back on what you need to do to achieve those processes. About all I can say is turn it off if you are not using it. The washing and drying of clothes has developed efficiencies in using less water and wringing out the clothes so they don’t need to dry as long. The last appliance is the dishwasher, the less hot water that is used the more efficient.
The next biggest energy user in a new home is the HVAC system. Most new homes in Fort Wayne, Indiana area heated with gas forced air. The condensing furnaces that are used have a +90% efficiency and can get into the high 90’s with variable speed DC motors and/or variable burner use. The A/C efficiency is rated using seasonal energy efficient ratio (SEER) 13 is the minimum but can go quite higher than that. In the south the higher rated equipment is important but in the northern climates, like Fort Wayne, Indiana it just doesn’t pay off.
Hot water heaters are somewhat deceiving. An electric water heater is very efficient, 95% in most cases but the cost per BTU is higher. The instant hot water heaters are efficient by with the endless hot water more is used, generally with longer showers. The traditional gas water heater with some tweaks is a pretty good value for heating water.
We will touch on the other “green” building techniques in my next blog post. Thank you for checking in with Matt Lancia Signature Homes.