Drink the Green Kool Aid Chattanooga
It’s Time to Remodel & Build our Homes Green in Chattanooga, TN.
The Green Kool Aid is my my way of expressing that we can live green lifestyles without being the movie star with the LEED certified home. There are many things that you can do to make your home more green without spending a fortune & that make sense for your pocket book & for your health. This blog is to inform you on ways to make your Chattanooga home more green for you and for your family. This blog will also feature ways to build a Chattanooga home in green manor as well.
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Indoor Air Quality
Nathan Walldorf is a NAR GREEN designee.
He’s been trained to help SELL Chattanooga homes with GREEN features for their true VALUE.
Nathan has also studied to help you, as a Chattanooga HOME BUYER, be able to evaluate homes for their GREEN potential.
Nathan also works with the green home designer, Green & Lofty Llc, so he has seen green construction 1st hand.
Keep Up-To-Date on GREEN ideas Here at
Insulation, the 2016 Biggest Remodeling Return
Fiberglass attic insulation projects delivered the biggest bang for the renovation buck in 2016.
An insulation upgrade costing $1,268 nationwide was expected to increase a home’s resale value by an average of $1,482.
That’s a 116.9% return.
Those figures come from the “Remodeling 2016 Cost vs. Value Report”, the annual report that compares the average cost for 30 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale in 100 U.S. markets.
On the first year that this report looked at attic insulation, it grabbed the report’s number one spot in terms of project costs recouped.
“On a market-by-market basis, installing insulation more than paid for itself in 60 of the 100 markets,” according to the report. And in New England, the percentage of costs expected to be recouped for the project was 143.8%.
An insulation upgrade is something invisible and, a little unsexy – rather than a showy kitchen remodel, but it pays off. In Chattanooga, TN, you can have EPB do an energy audit and then get up to $500 of the insulation installation covered by EPB. That makes the payback even better.
Winter Air Care
by Elyse Umlauf
Maintaining indoor air quality is important to your health all year. But when your home is sealed up to keep out the cold during winter, your indoor air quality can really suffer.
Here are three ways to improve indoor air quality this winter.
- Combustion appliances. Appliances like space heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces that aren’t properly installed, maintained, and ventilated can be dangerous and create indoor pollutants. Understand the manufacturer’s instructions or call a professional for a check-up before using these items.
- Humidity. Dust mites and mold thrive in moist conditions. If you’re using a humidifier, keep an eye on humidity and aim for levels of 30 to 50 percent.
- Fragrances. A pine aroma seems fresh and festive, but avoid scented candles, air fresheners, moth repellents, and other synthetic fragrances. They often emit toxic chemicals that compromise air quality.
For more information about indoor air quality, head to the EPA’s Indoor Air Plus program for a list of risk factors and solutions.
NAR Findings on What the Public thinks about GREEN homes
Energy-Efficiency UpgradesTax Credits
Some energy efficient upgrades that you made to your home in 2014 might qualify for the residential energy tax credit.
Tax credits offset what you owe the IRS dollar for dollar for up to 10% of the amount you spent on some home energy-efficiency upgrades.
Tax credits have a lifetime cap of $500. If you have used this tax credit in years past, you’ll have to subtract prior tax credits from that $500 limit. You will still save on utility bills thanks to your energy-efficiency upgrades even if you can’t get a tax credit.
Here are some upgrades that qualify for tax credits:
- Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
- Roofs (metal and asphalt)
- Water heaters (non-solar)
- Windows, doors, and skylights
To claim the credit, file IRS Form 5695 with your return.
2015 US Department of Energy Home Energy Requirements
The US Department of Energy (DOE) changed energy standards for heat & air units as well as water heaters for 2015. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) was very involved in pushing the DOE for these changes. For heat and air units, the new Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) minimum standards changed from 13 SEER to 14 SEER. The higher the SEER number, the more energy efficient the unit is. In order to meet this new standard, heat & air units inside and out may have to be replaced when a major repair needs to be made to an existing (older than 2015) unit. Typically you can get parts to older units for a while, but HVAC manufacturers will stop making parts to older units. Technically HVAC professionals should make all repairs with parts that raise the SEER standard. Replacement costs for homeowners could cost double what they’d typically pay, but the homeowner will save money in the long run and decrease the environmental impact.
Water heaters will also change in efficiency requirements. Those changes don’t sounds as costly as the heat and air changes will be to the public. The costs will vary depending on the size of the water heater that was on the property and/or the volume of water that you need to heat.
These changes will save 172.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Your Green Kool Aid of the Week
Energy Saving Through 3 Simple New Year’s Day Projects
In 15 minutes on January 1st, 2015 you can make a few changes to your home that will save you money and energy all year.
- Lightbulbs. Replace your five most frequently used bulbs with ones with Energy Star bulbs. You’ll save $75 per year.
- Plug electronics, chargers, and appliances into a power strip to cut passive energy use. TVs, microwaves, and gadgets waste money and electricity twenty four hours of the day. The annual savings depends on your load and electricity costs. EnergyStar.gov says a cable box with DVR capabilities plugged in for one year can add $43.46 to your electric bill.
- Change your furnace filter to improve air quality and make your system run more efficiently. That will save you $10-$30 per year & you’ll breathe cleaner air.
Plan Your Spring Garden In Late Fall
Plant some bulbs now that will flower in early spring.
Here are 5 tips to get you on your way.
1. Pick out the flowers best suited to your zone and the character you’re looking for in your yard. Think about flowers’ height and color and imagine how flowers will look together when they bloom. Also factor in when each flower is scheduled to bloom. That way, you can create a steady stream of blooming flowers throughout the season. For information on planting and caring for each type of flower, see the Farmer’s Almanac. You’ll find a growing guide, including planting tips, best soil types, and how to deal with pests.
2. Pick your spot. Do the flowers need sandy soil, full sun, or are best as border flowers? This chart will give you some quick guidance on the best places for each flower.
3. Calculate the right number of bulbs to buy and plant.
4. How deep? A rule of thumb is to plant bulbs to three times as deep as the height of the bulb.
5. Other rules of thumb:
• Choose large firm bulbs
• You can wait until the first freeze to plant bulbs. Check the hardiness zone to figure out the best planting time for your region.
• Put some bulb fertilizer into each hole before you plant your bulb
• Plant bulbs point side up & flat side down
• Space large bulbs approximately 4 to 6 inches apart and smaller bulbs 1 to 2 inches apart
Green Spaces Rooftop Hop Saturday
Green Spaces mission is, “to further sustainability in the Chattanooga region, by promoting environmentally preferable practices for living, working, and building.” They have an annual party called the Rooftop Hop on Saturday. You can go to several per-parties at different LEED and high performance buildings from 4:40-7:30 pm for $150 per person (non-members) & $100 per person (members) or there is the actual Rooftop Hop party at the Hunter Museum at 7:30 pm for $55 per person (non-members) & $25 per person (members).
Green Spaces has had impacts on city building code (making home builders build more efficient homes as mandated through code). They have also played a role in the many different LEED buildings sprouting up around Chattanooga. At an annual TN Sustainability conference, people from Nashville were amazed at how many new building are LEED certified in Chattanooga and at how Chattanooga has sought to protect it’s beautiful environment. The executive director at Green Spaces, Michael Walton, is as sharp as they get. He has a vast knowledge of sustainable building practices and promises to continue to be a valuable resource to Chattanooga, TN. Green Spaces has done much for Chattanooga, so let’s support Green Spaces by going to the Rooftop Hop.
Buy Your Ticket & Find out more at http://www.therooftophop.com/
Framing is what makes it so Green
Most of what makes a green home energy efficient happens behind the sheet rock.
Standard framing for a home has many cross-ways boards that create a thermal bridge. What that means is that the wood framing conducts heat from the
outside to inside of the home during the summer or cold from outside to inside of the home in the winter. Here is what standard framing looks like.
Advanced Framing is a commercial style framing that has grown in popularity in residential applications in the Chattanooga area and across the nation. Advanced framing uses less wood but still has the same structural integrity. Traditional headers over windows us lots of wood but have no structural value. In advanced framing, lots of that wood is not used. Standard framing uses 2X4 wood, while advanced framing uses 2X6 framing that can
then be spread out further. That extra spacing and less use of wood allows for more insulation to be
Advanced framing also uses California Corners. California Corners take one of the 2X6 boards and turn it sideways in order to be able to stuff more insulation into the corner of the building. The image on the right shows where there is an open space to let cold/hot air into the house in traditional corners. The other image shows a California Corner.
One other cool kind of green framing is called SISP framing (Structural Insulated Panels). This framing comes in large panels that are built off-site. It has 2 pieces of OSB (one inside and one outside) with foam in the middle. The panels themselves are structural enough that you only have to install a few 2X6 boards per section. The corners are even tighter than the California Corners above. All in all, this system creates such a tight building envelop that you can use a small heat & air unit and you have to have a blower that brings in outside air so the inside air won’t be too stagnate. There are very few thermal breaks in this type of framing.
A New Technology to Help Make the Air in Your House Better
Mrs. Green & Lofty and I went to lunch and learn at Green Spaces yesterday, and heard about a cool new product to help clean out your indoor air.
The air inside your home is actually more polluted than the air outside of your home. Everything from the paint you used inside of your home, to the chemicals that the wood framing was treated with affect the air that you breath in your home. Obviously mold, dust, pollens, & pet dander are also in the air that you breath in your home.
The product we heard about (Phenominal Air) is an ionizer that you install between the coils of your HVAC unit and the blower motor that kills bacteria, dust mold, pollen, harmful pathogens, E coli, TB, etc in the air of your home. This filter is so good that it neutralized allergens during allergy season and it helps prevent asthma by eliminating the thing that triggers asthma in your indoor air.
Unlike ultraviolet light filters that have been installed in HVAC units in the past, this filter doesn’t harm the HVAC unit. Ultraviolet light deteriorates the duct work over time. This filter also does not put off more ozone either, like other similar filters do. The product sounds amazing. Here is a link to more info on the product if you’d like to check it out. http://topproductinnovations.com/applications.html
Technologies to help you Use Less Water
1) Dual Flush Converter for existing toilets (saves 15,000 gallons of water per year)
2) Pressure amplifying and water saving shower head
3) Tank-less water heater
4) Wireless rain sensor (detects when it has rained and turns your sprinkler off)
See the short video for yourself.
GA Picked as #5 of 10 for Best Places to Have Solar Panels
The Huffington Post named Georgia as one of the top 10 states for solar power. Georgia was picked as one of 10 ideal states for advancing solar power development.
The states were chosen for the list based on the following criteria:
1) a relatively high level of solar insolation (ability to generate a significant amount of solar energy)
2) a fairly large amount of economic activity resulting from solar energy being deployed
3) a reasonably low cost of energy installation
4) higher than average current prices for electricity
5) the potential for electricity production through solar power that would offset large amounts of carbon emissions.
Research by Professor Matt Croucher from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, called the Optimal Deployment of Solar Index (OSDI).
Chattanooga, TN is right on the border with Georgia, so I would think that it also would be an ideal area to advance solar power development as well.
The top 10 states for solar power are:
2) New Mexico
EPA Clean Power Plan
The EPA and President Obama announced in June that they will cut carbon pollution by 30% by 2030. Up until now there were no
limits on carbon pollution though arsenic and other things have been restricted. This plan is to use more clean energy, cut energy waste, and limit carbon pollution. The Clean Power plan is meant to bring more health to Americans by limiting smog & soot. By 2030, when the plan is complete, smog and soot will decrease by 25% according to the EPA. States will be given achievable and enforceable goals to cut carbon pollution per megawatt hour. States also can customize their path to their goals. The US will still get most of their energy from coal and natural gas in 2030. The Clean Power plan simply pushes states to use more non-carbon producing energy production. EPA says that power plants need to be improved (old plants need to be updated), more renewable energy needs to be made (ex. solar & wind energy), clean energy (ex. hydroelectric) needs to be made, & more energy efficiency needs to be supported. It is unclear if the EPA wants more energy efficiency in homes and in businesses or in power plants, but it is probably both. The EPA and President Obama’s hope are to push more innovation in energy production.
Some are concerned that these carbon limits will make electricity more expensive for everyone. Chuck Fleischmann said that the EPA does not think about business or about the Clean Power Plan’s affect on businesses in his debate with Weston Wamp. The EPA claims that it will not make electricity more expensive than the rate of inflation. They claim it will cost about 1 carton of milk’s worth of money more per month but save people more than 8% on their health care bills.
The government and EPA need to balance what it will cost the public to reduce carbon emissions with the benefits of cleaner air and cleaner electricity. Gina McCarthy with the EPA claims that certain people in politics are exaggerating the cost of carbon reduction to protect special interests.
In the housing industry, people assume that a house that is green is significantly more expensive. As I have worked with REGREEN Trained Eda Walldorf with Green & Lofty LLC, I have seen that a house that is green or that is improved for energy efficiency doesn’t cost that much more to build or remodel, and it can save you significant money in the long term. I have a feeling that the same can be done with energy production. Good air quality in a home is also a part of making a house green. I don’t see why the US would not want better air quality in the country. I applaud the EPA, and hope that these initiatives will bring about good changes in how the US generates power.
(Note: Chuck Fleischmann has been a great friend to Realtors & to property owners in the US through the policies he has supported, so I am not paraphrasing his words to cast a negative light on him. I am only highlighting what one faction of US politics thinks about the Clean Power Plan).
Take a look at what Gina McCarthy had to say at the announcement of the Clean Power Plan.
What do You Need to Know About Solar Panels?
If you are thinking about installing solar panels then you need to know a few things.
1) Solar panels need to be face south in order to get the most sun.
2) They need to be place where they will get full son from 9 am to 3 pm. You don’t want them in a place that get shaded by other buildings or trees.
3) Energy storage capabilities in your electrical system (a battery) is recommended.
4) or you need a meter that sells power back to the grid (called net-metering).
5) You need a lightning arrester (just in case).
6) Some solar panels come in shapes like shingles that you can install on the roof.
6) There is a federal tax credit through 2016 to help you with 30% of the cost of solar panel installation.
Source: NAR Green Class 200
Here is what TVA pays Green Power Providers who sell solar power back to them with net metering:
|:||$1,000 upon installation
$1,000 upon installation
Years 1-10: retail electric rate + premium payment
Years 11-20: retail electric rate2014 Premium Rates:
Wind, Biomass, and Hydro: $0.03/kWh
What Holes Do You Need to Fill in Your Attic?
1. Around furnace flues.
2. Around plumbing vents and lights.
3. Behind knee walls.
4. In open stud cavities.
5. Why not insulate over insulation and around can lights?
See this and more on the EnergyStar.gov web-site.
Click to read:
Eda Walldorf Becomes The Only REGREEN Certified Professional in Chattanooga, TN
Eda Walldorf of Green & Lofty LLC in Chattanooga, TN a sustainable designer, has been implementing restorative & new construction practices in Chattanooga since 2012 with an energy efficiency emphasis.
On Baker St in North Chattanooga, Eda took an old dilapitated bungalow with a very choppy floor plan, and turned it into a beautiful refurbished home with an open floor plan & with a sustainable framework. Natural light poured in through sky-lights in the kitchen and through many new energy efficient windows. Mrs. Walldorf had a third party energy audit conducted on the home and performed all feasible recommendations to meet the highest possible standards. Her next project was a newly constructed EPB Energy Right Certified home, also in North Chattanooga. The Electric Power Board oversaw the construction of that home from beginning to end, and made sure it met their energy efficiency standards to earn their third party certification. Green & Lofty LLC’s next goal is to continue to implement sustainable practices with timeless & beautiful design & build with EPA’s highest energy standard ratings- the Energy Star certification: an arduous and prestigious title. Green & Lofty will also have a home for sale which is currently undergoing an EPB energy audit & thorough restoration in the Ramsgate neighborhood in Hixson, TN. This home is scheduled to be completed this summer.
On April 9th, Mrs. Walldorf flew to New York City to attend a REGREEN training conference with other prominent designers, architects & industry professionals in the Big Apple, including some renowned sustainability authorities from California. After completing all of USGBC & ASID’s required REGREEN Trained courses, Mrs. Walldorf has become certified as a REGREEN Trained Professional as of April 21st. Mrs. Walldorf is the only REGREEN Trained professional in Chattanooga, and is currently one of only 2 professionals who have been certified by REGREEN in Tennessee as a whole.
REGREEN was created by the American Society of Interior Designers Foundation (ASID) and by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). A variety of industry experts contributed to the conception of the REGREEN Trained program, allowing them to create a comprehensive methodology modeled after USGBC’s nationally recognized LEED program, and focusing on the implementation & careful planning of sustainable retrofits. The REGREEN organizations says that, “REGREEN trained professional are well-equipped to make retrofit decisions that improve home performance, energy efficiency and indoor air quality, respect the environment and save homeowners money.” After being asked about the REGREEN course load, Mrs. Walldorf responded that she learned a great deal, particularly about measures well outlined in the LEED for homes handbook that she has been delving into over the past year.
Look out for your chance to own a Green & Lofty home in the future. Feel free to contact her NAR GREEN Realtor, Nathan Walldorf, at 423-544-7700.
Xeriscaping Your Yard. What is that?
Xeriscaping is when you use plants in your yard that “do not require irrigation beyond that provided by rainfall” according the NAR GREEN handbook. No one likes watering their yard to death. Maybe for some people it is relaxing, but I’d love to know what plants need mostly just the rain that falls from the sky in the East Tennessee area. You may have to do your own research if you are in another area of the country. This is what the craze about buying “native plants” is all about. Save water and save time by landscaping your yard with the right kind of plants. Here are some plants that I found thanks to http://www.se-eppc.org/pubs/east.pdf.
- The Red Chokeberry. This plant sounds great for full/partial sun areas. The red chokeberry blooms with pinkish flowers in the spring, it has dark red berries in the late summer and fall, and the leaves turn bright red in the fall. Everyone loves color in their yard, and this one gives you color during 3 different seasons. This is a slow growing bush, but it can get up to 6′ to 8′ tall. Click here to Take a Look.
- Mountain Laurel. If you take a hike in the Smokey Mountains, you’ll see mountain laurel. This bush grows to be 3′ to 4′ tall. It blooms with dark pink or dark red blooms in late spring and early summer. This is an evergreen bush. It is easy to grown, it like moist soil, but it can live than ideal conditions. It is a full sun and part shade plant. In the wild you often see this plant in the shade of the forest. If you want the best blooms the soil needs to be a bit acidic, the ground moist, and the ground mulched. Find out more here.
- Deer Berry. The Deer Berry bush cab grow from 3′ to 15′ high. these plants have long white flowered blooms in the early spring. In late spring and summer, this plant has pale blue/almost purple berries. This is a good plant for full sun and partial shade. It can also be good where the yard ends and woods begin. It gives food to wildlife like Songbirds, White tail deer, Quail, Wild Turkeys, Raccoons, Bears, Squirrels, & Foxes. Click to find out more.
Tennessee Commercial Energy Efficiency Loan Program
Make your business more energy efficient with a 5 year loan through Pathway Lending at 2% interest or a 5 to 10 year loan for 5% according to the Pathway Lending web-site. Take a look at the incentive at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency
4 Energy.Gov Tip for Landscaping to Save You $ on Your Utilities
1. Shade your home with trees (can lower your exterior temperature by 6 Degrees)
2. Shade your patio with climbing vines on a trellis.
3. Create a windbreak. Plant evergreens to the North & northwest of your house to stop/slow winter winds
4. Landscape to save water. Plant plants together that use same amount of water, plant low water use grass, raise your lawn mower height, use mulch, water in the morning, & plant local/low water consuming plants (some listed in “Xeriscaping your Yard”). See the 7 suggestions at Enery.gov and see Xeriscaping Your Yard above.
Why is are Permeable Driveways Or Parking Lot a good idea?
In Chattanooga, TN you now have to pay storm water fees if you don’t have a permeable parking lot at a commercial building. The City of Chattanooga is having to install newer and larger sewer drains as a result of the storm water run off in the city, so the money for these improvements have to come from businesses through this tax or a business/commercial property owner can rethink what they install for a parking lot.
A permeable driveway or parking lot allows water to be absorbed into the ground instead of running off into the street, against a building, and ultimately into the sewer. The surface also absorbs the heat instead of reflecting it and making urban areas hotter. These grid systems are durable and can hold the weight of commercial trucks.
Here is a video about a permeable driveway system that is made in the US to explain the value of a permeable driveway.
Dual Plumbing System or a Sink-Toilet that Reuses Water?
Here is a cool Green idea. It is the toilet sink combo. Re-use the water that you wash your hands with in the bathrooms as your toilet water. This looks like a much cheaper alternative to a dual plumbing system, but it doesn’t conserve the kind of water that a dual plumbing system would conserve.
A dual plumbing system takes rain water and grey water, stores it in a tank, and re-uses it in toilets or in an outdoor faucet for the lawn. Below is an illustration of what a dual plumbing system or a grey water recycling system looks like.
What kind of Return do you get from Different Energy Efficiency Improvements?
GREENandSAVE is a 20 year old organization that focusses on “helping Americans grow stronger, maintain our coveted high standard of living, and serve as better stewards of the environment” (as quoted from theGREENandSAVE.com web-site). A large part of their goal is energy savings. GREENandSAVE put together a list of the savings that you get from different energy efficiency projects, based on the US Department of Energy, the EPA, Energy Star for Home Program, the US Green Building Council, the American Council for Energy Efficiency Economy, and several other sources. If you are trying to figure out how to prioritize your energy efficiency projectsas you remodel or build a home, this is a great resource. Click on the chart below to see the whole chart.
For the complete ROI tables and topic page with details on over 50 ways to SAVE Money and the Environment visit: Home Remodeling ROI.
What is there to a Cool Roof?
Wouldn’t you think it would make sense if our roof tops didn’t absorb as much heat?
Wouldn’t you think that could save you some air conditioning money in the summer?
From an environmental stand point, it can even make an urban area less hot.
There is such a thing as a Cool Roof. There are both commercial and residential roofs that are made to reflect instead of absorb heat.
From a commercial stand point you can do something as simple a white colored sealant over your roof top to reflect the heat better or as complex as a foam roofing system that reflects the heat and ads a greater R value to your roof. A foam roof can still look a bit foamy though. The Chattanooga restaurant, 212 Market, has a foam roof system on their building that helps them save on their utilities. When it is time to redo your foam roof, it only takes a new coating instead of tearing off an old roof to replace it with a new one.
Those roofs may not look very good on a residential home, but there are also shingle roofs that you can buy with a reflective material in it to help keep your homes roof cooler. On a 89 degree day, your standard roof shingles can be 173 degrees, but a cool roof will be closer to 150 degrees according to a Cool Roof Rating Council study. A cool roof reflect 3 times as much light as a standard roof and therefore keeps as much heat from being absorbed into your home or building. A cool roof can reduce your AC unit ton-age and use, it can reduce your energy bills, and it helps the roof last longer.
Next time you replace your roof ask your roofing contractor about a cool roof.
Click here to read NAR’s article, “Green Features Add Value”
A Resource to Suggest Green Ideas for Every Kind of Remodeling Project
REGREEN was created by American Society of Interior Designers Foundation and by the US Green Building Council. A variety of building experts contributed their feedback to REGREEN to help them form a comprehensive list of ways to make your house more Green as you do certain projects. the suggestions made by REGREEN will help you have more energy efficiency, have better air quality in your home, have better water efficiency, and to advice you on systems and materials to use to make your next remodeling project more Green. Take a look at http://www.regreenprogram.org/resources/strategy-generator
Click to go Back To The Top of the Page
When is the Best Time to Make Your Existing Home a Higher Performance & Healthier Home?
1) When you are putting on a new roof. That can be a great time to insulate your roof better or even to install reflective roof decking (a radiant barrier) that doesn’t
absorb heat and makes your shingles last longer.
2) When you replace the furnace or heat/air unit. That’s the time to get a new and more efficient heat/air unit. (See the 2nd Step to an energy Efficient Home).
3) When you are replacing the appliances. Get Energy Star appliances, and they will save you money.
4) When you are replacing your flooring. Look for wood floors or bamboo floors that are certified by FCS
(Forest Stewardship Council) or by SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative). Then you will be sure that your wood has been harvested with sustainable forestry practices. Bamboo grows back much faster than wood, so that is why bamboo is more green. Bamboo is also a very strong product.
The everyday consumer doesn’t know it, but most of the wood in our homes (treated wood framing, sub-flooring, hardwood, and cabinets) has chemicals in the wood that aren’t good for you.
Wouldn’t you rather have wood in your homes that doesn’t contain formaldehyde?
Over time these products put off harmful gases. Cabinetry often contains formaldehyde as well. See if you can find cabinetry without formaldehyde when remodeling.
5) When you have a house gutted. If you have the sheetrock torn out, add better insulation on the outside walls. If you tear out tile in the bathroom you might find a lack of insulation as well, so install it before you retile the bathroom.
6) When you replace the siding. If the siding is torn off, re-insulate & install a house wrap (Tyvec). Tyvec helps keep air from flowing through the seams of your house.
7) When you repaint your home. Simply using low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paint when you paint your home will make your air quality inside your home much better. There is also low VOC carpet. You even need to look out for the carpet pad that you use and be sure that it is not brominated flame retardants (BFRs). Conventional paint and carpet will emit gases that aren’t good for you over time. VOCs have been linked to asthma and respiratory problems.
What’s the 2nd Step to an Energy Efficient Home?
It’s best to make your building envelop tight and then make changes to your heat and air.
Your heating and cooling unit uses more energy than anything else in your home, is the 2nd step of making your home energy efficient is through your heat and air unit.
Heat & Air Know How:
- An old furnace (more than 15 years old) can considerably reduce the cooling capability of even the newest and most efficient air conditioner. For this reason, it makes sense to replace both systems-furnace and central air conditioner-at the same time.
- You need to be sure that your heat and air unit is the right size for the house. Rightsizing is when you match the capacity of the heating/cooling unit to the size of the house. Be sure that your heat and air tech knows what he’s doing and knows how to rightsize the unit.
- Overcapacity units will heat and cool the house too quickly. The unit will turn on and off more often with large temperature swings and leave clammy air. This also creates more wear & tear on the heating/cooling unit.
- Be sure your ducts are tightly sealed. Today heat and air techs use something called “duct butter” in Chattanooga to seal the seams of the ducts. “Ductbutter” is like the material they use to form a cast for a broken bone but around your duct seams. You can have a heat and air tech add “duct butter” to your existing ducts, but only do that if your ductwork is already insulated ductwork.
- Take kinks out of your ducts. Kinks restrict air flow in your ducts, so have your ducts straightened.
- Keep air filters clean, have an heat & air tech keep the unit itself clean.
- Be sure vegetation is growing onto and blocking the unit.
- Finally, be sure that your thermostat isn’t exposed to heat from sunlight.
Where do I start to make my house more Energy Efficient?
Most people think that you start making your house more energy efficient with a new heat & air unit, but a heat and air unit will work the best with a tight building envelope. The building envelope is the shell that provides the structure to your home. It separates the indoor and the outdoor space. If your building envelope isn’t sealed well, then your home will be less efficient and air will leak through the roof, walls, in corners, or through joints between the walls or floors.
To test your building envelope yourself for air leaks, do the following:
- Use an incense stick or a wet hand
- Close the exterior doors, windows, and fireplace flue
- Turn off gas stoves and other combustible appliances
- Turn off exhaust fans
- Turn on a box fan in a doorway facing away from the room you r are testing to such air out of the room (that will increase the air infiltration rate).
- Light the incense stick, walk around the room, and look for where the smoke cloud wavers indicating moving air. Then you’ll find your air leaks that need to be sealed.
- You can also use a damp hand & feel where the air is infiltrating the room.
After you find your air leaks, you can use caulk in cracks that are less than 1/4″ wide.
Use expanding foam sealant in cracks that are more than 1/4″ wide.
For larger openings, you will need to use rigid foam insulation, fiberglass insulation, roof flashing, or silicone sealant.
Other options are foam tape & a good door sweep.
(Picture from How to Install a Door Sweep at Lowes.com)
You will often find air leaks in the following places:
- Around windows
- Around doors
- Around outdoor water faucets
- Around dryer vents
- Where A/C unit comes into the house
- Around vents and fans
- Around bricks, siding, stucco & foundation
The most important part of your building envelope is your insulation, so you may need to look in your attic and under your stairs to find the holes in your insulation.
If you want a more professional opinion for free on where your house is loosing air then schedule an EPB Energy Audit in the Chattanooga area. You may have to wait until they have availability to get the inspections, so a self test is good to do between then and now.
The NAR (National Association of Realtors) Home Buyer Survey for 2013 showed that energy efficient features came up over and over again as major features that home buyers looked for in buying their homes. If a buyer is trying to decide between a GREEN home and a conventional home, the energy savings alone of having a GREEN home could and often does tip the scale in favor of the GREEN homes. NAR research shows that “Green homes sell faster and closer to list price” (NAR GREEN Designation Course 300).
Over the long haul, a GREEN house should save you enough money to make up for the slightly higher purchase price of the more expensive & more efficient systems that it uses.
What 5 Environmentally Friendly Features Home Buyers Want
NAR (The National Association of Realtors) released their 2013 Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Survey results recently. They found that the following “Environmentally Friendly Features” were the most important to home buyers:
- Heating and Cooling Costs were “strongly important” to 49% of those surveyed & “very important” to 36% ofthose surveyed. Did you know that 31% of residential energy costs are in the heat & air unit alone.
- Energy Efficient Appliances were “strongly important” to 47% of those surveyed and “very important” to 21% of those surveyed. Did you know that an Energy Star clothes washer will save you the most $ out of your every day appliances (besides heat & air unit) than any other appliance?
- Energy Efficient Lighting. 45% of people said it was “somewhat important” & 22% said it was “very important.” According to the Department of Energy, if every American home replaced just one incandescent light bulb with one Energy Star CFL bulb we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, save about $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year equivalent to those from about 800,000 cars.
- Landscaping for Energy Conservation. 36% of people said it was “Somewhat important” and 10% said it was “very important.” To me, it makes sense to use native plants that do not require irrigation beyond that provided by rainfall (called Xeriscaping) when landscaping a home. How nice would it be to not have to water your garden all of thetime?
- Environmentally Friendly Community Features came in 5th place as being “somewhat important” to 35% of home buyers and as being “very important” to 9% of home buyers. This question is tainted by the fact that home buyers probably don’t realize that sustainable planning is probably what attracted them to live in a certain area in the 1st place. Walkability, development, and transportation are 3 large factors that studies have shown influence home prices. These factors include parks, walking trails/sidewalks, and distance to the stores & work. Chattanooga has done a great job with smart growth, and that is part of why so many people (including Volkswagen of America) want to move here.
4 Quick Benefits of Owning a GREEN home or Making your Home GREEN
1. It Saves You Money. You will save money on your monthly utility bills if your home is more energy efficient.
2. It Creates a more Healthy Living Environment. The chemicals in your framing/pressure treated wood & even in your kitchen cabinets aren’t good for you. Neither are the chemicals in traditional paint good for you either. Indoor air quality down to moisture control is considered in Green homes/remodeling.
3. It is Sustainable (It takes care of the natural resources around you. It meets today’s needs without compromising the needs of the future.)
4. It Enhances Your Lifestyle. (You will be living in a home that is comfortable with cutting-edge technologies that will date conventional homes as building codes change to demand more and more energy efficiency. It leads to a more pleasurable home ownership experience. If you like your home to be warm in the winter, then a Green home should give you that.)
More Green Info:
Where to get rebates on energy star heat and air units?Click this link: /get-rebates-energy-star-heat-air-units/
Energy efficient hot water heater incentives/rebates by Gibson. Click here: /new-energy-efficient-water-heater-gibson-incentive-buy/
What are Permeable Drive Ways Systems and Where do you get it in Chattanooga, TN? Click here: /a-cool-green-driveway-system-on-a-north-chattanooga-home-for-sale/
Part of Chattanooga’s sustainability goals are Walk-ability. Click to read about Chattanooga’s Walkability
-The SAVE Act may allow energy efficient homes to get larger loans soon. Keep checking Your Green Kool Aid of the Week for future articles on Green financing that already exists. Click here to read: /chattanooga-real-estate-green-houses-may-soon-get-bigger-loans/
–Green & Lofty LLC Chooses Chattanooga to build Green Homes Read about it at: /green-and-lofty-llc-chooses-north-chattanooga-to-build-homes/