Wednesday, March 28, 2012

House Expo "Greening your Home Workshop"

Saturday March 24, 2012 House Expo “Greening your Home Workshop”

What a great event this was, it was great to network with familiar local businesses and meet new ones. I had the great opportunity to present our local consumers with a workshop assisting them on how they can be a little greener in their existing homes.

I am the 1st Ecobroker Certified Real Estate Agent in the South Georgia area with Rose City Realty, Inc. You may wonder what exactly is an Ecobroker Certified Agent?

It is a designation that helps me stay current with the growing green real estate market. It is an opportunity for me to benefit my community and the environment.

I can assist buyers with identifying true energy efficient features in homes that unfortunately are on the rise being aggressively marketed using buzz words to attract green minded consumers while assisting sellers market energy efficient features correctly and avoid the GREENWASHING effect.

We all want to save money on our utility bills without investing too much money but keep in mind that for repairs resulting from an energy audit also increases a home’s value and if you want to claim your home as an energy efficient one a Home Energy Rater would have to perform the assessment. For $1.00 you save in energy it increases your home value by $20.00. So, it’s not a very bad investment.

With this being said, remember in order to properly claim an entire home as energy efficient the proper documentation needs to be provided in order to back the claim. I see way to many listings claiming an entire home as energy efficient by just changing an A/C unit or changing to a programmable thermostat and watch out the home miraculously becomes energy efficient. The latest one I read was a material was labeled as energy efficient sadly to have been said by a real estate agent that thought that by adding these two words would highlight the listing. Listings like this constitute misrepresentation of a listed property and so many alike this one.

By greening existing homes the proper way sellers can proudly market and price their homes according to the type of energy efficient feature upgrades it incorporates and enjoy the monthly savings and sellers can than sell their homes not solely on square footage but for the type and value of energy efficient upgrades.

The following are some simple and easy steps that may achieve some energy savings on existing homes. It is very essential to perform a home energy audit first before any changes are done in hopes to reduce your energy consumption. An energy auditor is a certified building analyst that can identify areas of the home that can be a financial and an energy drain and provide the homeowner with an assessment before any work is done. Do not be afraid to request the type of certification your energy auditor holds.

If homeowners follow the auditors suggestion they will find an improvement in comfort, an increase in the level of efficiency and decrease in monthly utility cost. By making the proper improvements the home could easily reduce its energy use.

Once improvements have been made a new energy audit is suggested to acquire the improved efficiency of the home or if you want to claim your home as an energy efficient one a Home Energy Rater will be able to provide a rating which lenders recognize for lending purposes for high efficiency homes like a Qualified Energy Star home which is now available in Thomasville built by local builder Capital Home Builders in 2007. They were the first local builder to bring this energy efficiency awareness and what is possible in a home.

Green home renovations can be overwhelming especially the larger more expensive ones but for a simpler approach to greening an existing home consider the following for quick, inexpensive retrofits that can be done.

  1. Replace incandescent bulbs with CFL’s buy the ones that are Energy Star Qualified to ensure the savings & quality of the product. By changing the 5 most used in your home can save up to 75%. Or if you are able to buy LED lights you can save between 75-80% Energy Star Qualified LEDs use only 20-25% of the energy and last up to 25 times longer than the traditional bulbs.

  1. Install Programmable Thermostat by making this installation you’re able to pre-set you’re A/C to energy saving settings while you are away or sleeping. It will do this automatically. Many models come with a filter sensor.

  1. Replace your Air Conditioner Filters Energy Star recommends that you check your filters every month for excess debris that can restrict air flow.

  1. Insulate your hot water heater & furnace by properly insulated hot water heaters & furnace you can reduce heat loss by 25-45% reducing your energy bill by 4-9%. Read the installation/warranty to make sure this doesn’t void the warranty. Installing a water heater timer in order for your water heater not to continuously run when you are not using it. Especially, if you are one of the homes that have two water heaters. A licensed plumber maybe needed for this process. You can also set your water heater at 120 degrees this will add to your savings.

  1. Fill air leaks with caulking or weather stripping. Cracks around windows and doors can be major energy drain on your home as they decrease the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by allowing air to escape. Exhaust-vent covers like dryer vents, range hood vents, bath fans and other interior ventilation equip. typically terminate outside the house in a plastic or metal cover that has one or more louvers on it. The louvers are designed to be in the closed position whenever the fan is not in use, so that outside air doesn’t leak in. An energy auditor can identify these areas.

  1. Water conservation- install aerators on facets and install a low-flow showerhead. Aerators attach to your faucets to decrease the water flow while maintaining high pressure. Water flow on every faucet in your home makes up around 15% of a typical home’s indoor water use, reducing the water flow on every faucet in your home can easily save a significant amount of water. Look for hardware with the EPA water sense label for products that are at least 20% more efficient than standard models.

Remember that products that carry the Energy Star & the EPA water sense labels ensure that you’ll get the savings they promise to deliver. There are no short cuts. In order to make energy efficiency claim in a home it needs to be backed by proper documentation as prove that the home delivers the claim.

7. Another area to address is the duct work. Properly sealed ductwork can help prevent air leakage. 20-30% of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks and poor sealed connections.

  1. Proper insulation in existing homes. The place where usually insulation needs to be checked is the attic. This will be one of the best ways to prevent heat loss and to keep your energy bill down. Make sure the insulation is in good condition and insulate with high quality insulation.
Extra Insulation is a misunderstood concept. When checking your attic insulation for adequate amounts and it is determined that you do not have the adequate r-value to start with by adding insulation to acquire the R-value that is recommended is not per say extra insulation.

Also, by installing your new insulation batts perpendicular to the old ones, you now have the opportunity to cover and insulate the ceiling joists, and you're also covering any gaps between the old batts. So installing the new batts perpendicular to the old ones will definitely result in a better overall insulation job.

Remember to use unfaced batts for your new insulation so that you don't double up the vapor barrier, and maintain at least a 3-inch air space around older, non-IC-rated, recessed light fixtures, masonry chimneys, and anything else that produces heat. [i]

9. Refrigerators can be an energy drain if they were made before 2001 older fridge are very inefficient and upgrading, if all possible to an Energy Star label one will yield a significant savings, of course if it is in your budget to do so.

Other Energy Savings Tips around the house

Rainwater Harvesting

Water can be collected in rain barrels that would normally pour off the roof through gutters downspouts. The purpose for this is:

It conserves water & helps lower cost and saves about 1300gals of water. This water can later be used to water your plants.

Another concept gaining popularity with homeowners is the creation of rain garden landscaped areas planted to wild flowers and other native plants that soak up rain water mainly from the roof of a house or other building. The rain garden allows 30% more water to soak into the ground. Rain gardens are important as cities grow and increased stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces becoming a problem.

Stormwater runoff from developed areas increases flooding carries pollutants from streets, parking lots and even lawns into local streams and lakes; and leads to costly municipal improvements in stormwater treatment structures. While an individual rain garden may seem like a small thing, collectively they produce substantial neighborhood and community environment benefits.

This workshop was put together to bring awareness to my community on how to make changes in our homes that will save us money, add comfort, avoid greenwashing, increase existing home values through proper documentation and help the environment all at the same time.

If you should have further questions on how to green your home the right way and avoid legal ramifications contact me at Rose City Realty, Inc I look forward on to hearing from you.

[i] Inman news