Wherever you turn these days, it seems that someone is talking about "Green", or "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED") certified buildings, and "Zero Energy Homes." Each of these share a commitment to reduced energy consumption and the "re-use, repurposing and recycling of materials," "improved indoor air quality" and use of "environmentally friendly" and "renewable products." Green or LEED buildings generally generate 20 to 70 percent in energy savings, while a Zero Energy Home (ZEH) by definition must generate enough energy to meet or exceed its own heating, cooling and electrical needs in any given year.
As with most “buzz words” of the day we realize that there is always a history behind what seems to be so prevalent in the media today. Going Green doesn’t happen overnight – and the research and results that we are hearing so much about these days did not just happen either – there has been an energy conservation movement since the 1970’s. The results and suggested items to incorporate into construction and remodeling have been re-defined numerous times in the past 30 years.
Many conservation efforts are most easily incorporated at the time of initial construction, however some are easily adapted either as a stand-alone project or as part of routine equipment replacement.
Over the next several articles we discuss several ways you can “go green” in your home, first let’s look at heating, cooling and electricity.
· High efficiency furnaces and/or heat pumps - replacing old furnaces with higher efficiency models or possibly converting from an older type of heating and/or cooling device to one utilizing newer technology can lead to significant energy savings. Many furnaces built just 15 years ago are quite inefficient when compared to models available today.
· Insulation - adding additional insulation in attics, crawl spaces and exterior walls are all potential areas for reducing energy costs. Also, by sealing cracks in the attic around areas where ceiling lights and fans are installed or wires are strung can also cut energy costs substantially. When all these small openings are added together, they can have the same effect as having a window left open.
· Horizontal Loop Ground Source Heat Pump System - this relatively unheard of heat pump system runs coils 4 to 6 feet underground to tap into the constant temperature of the earth's soil to provide either heating or cooling depending upon the season.
· Windows - installation of wood or vinyl encased triple pane windows significantly reduces heat loss and eliminates drafts.
· Building Site Orientation - for new construction, orienting a building to utilize the southern exposure along with window placement allows for the exploitation of both natural lighting and solar heat.
· Light bulbs - the days of the incandescent light bulbs may be numbered as legislators across the nation discuss legislation to ban their use in favor of the more efficient LED and CFL lighting technology as a measure to reduce energy usage.
· Higher efficiency appliances - installation of high efficiency appliances will significantly reduce energy consumption, particularly for appliances that run all the time, are energy consumers or are used with high frequency.
Until Next Time,