Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Green Home Benefits

An average 2,500 square foot home in Delaware will cost around $3,000 in electricity for an average year. While retaining the same quality of living, a green home will require a small fraction of that energy. Where do those savings come from?

Retrofits and New Homes

Many homeowners feel attached to their current homes and will want to retrofit rather than building new homes. While retrofitting current homes to be more energy efficient is certainly preferable to leaving them as is, conventional homes have some fundamental defects that will prevent them from reaching complete energy independence.

New home builders have many more options when it comes to building a green home. Because they're not retrofitting an existing property, they have complete control over every aspect of construction from the first day of planning through the project's completion.

Some sustainable home building practices are impractical for a simple remodeling. For example, thermal flooring is more efficient and cheaper to install when windows are planned around that feature. Living roofs are easier to install atop a new building rather than installing them over existing roofs.

Benefits to Homeowners

Government tax credits and other subsidies have made green homes especially attractive over the past few years. For example, the federal renewable energy tax credit covers 30 percent of the cost of a new solar panel system. The Delaware Green Energy Program Incentives can further reduce the cost of solar panels by 90 cents per watt of capacity.

Delaware new home builders will also benefit from historically low prices on solar panels, energy efficient lighting, and other green technologies. Combined with government subsidies, many of these products cost a fraction of what they used to just three years ago.

Green homeowners don't have to make any sacrifices to their lifestyles to save money. With a green home, they can afford to leave the temperature at a comfortable setting while taking hot showers and using the same consumer electronics as everyone else. The only difference is that their monthly utility bills are tiny or completely nonexistent.

Benefits to the Environment

Green building materials minimize any impact on the environment. They typically come from sustainable sources or recycled materials.

Energy efficient products require less electricity. When the power plants burn less coal or oil, they emit less carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Green homes recycle everything. Rainwater can be collected for irrigation purposes. Compost bins decompose organic waste for gardening and landscaping. Even the original building materials can be recycled for use in other construction.

Small Changes Add Up

One of the easiest ways to save money is to install energy efficient lighting. Compact fluorescent bulbs use about 25 percent of the energy of incandescent bulbs, but they include mercury, which is highly toxic to both humans and the environment. Better yet are LED bulbs that use even less electricity and contain no environmental toxins. While LED bulbs cost more upfront, a 75 watt equivalent LED will only use about $5.50 of electricity per year compared to $24.63 for an incandescent bulb.

By themselves, new windows, insulation, and exterior doors save some energy. Together, they can easily cut heating and cooling costs in half. Power strips, low-flow shower heads, low-flush toilets, and other energy saving appliances all add up, and the more homeowners invest in energy efficient products, the more they will save over time.

Kent Yuen is a freelance writer specializing in home improvement and green construction topics.  For more information on building energy efficient homes, click here.