We all know that energy prices fluctuate but most realize that over the long haul they will not go down. The demand for energy at times out strips our ability to supply it. Supply and demand dictates. As oil supplies dwindle prices will climb… Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could reduce our need for energy, possibly causing an abundance of it ? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we caused such an abundance that we were able to offset oil production and that we are able to drive the prices down ? The most significant results might be a ways off, but the financial results can be felt right now, in your pocket.
Energy efficient measures pay for them selves. How well they pay depends on many factors. The most important upgrades for comfort would be insulation based. The most important upgrades for money savings would be air sealing. There comes a point where air sealing further has less of an advantage, its at that point when better insulation will pay off. So how much does the average home cost to build to Energy Star standards ? Well, that depends on your builders standard. I know that it costs less than $3,000.00 for some builders while others could spend 2 times that.
We can for example take a middle of the road approach, lets say $6k and see what that gets you.
Right off the bat, Energy Star V3 will;
- Ensure Grade 1 insulation or Grade 2 with extra on the exterior. (Who ever complained years later that they had too much insulation!)
- Make sure that all windows and doors were flashed properly.
- Heating and cooling equipment will actually be designed for the home its going in on.
- Duct testing, to be sure your not sending 1/2 of your heating and cooling to the attic.
- A ventilation strategy that’s designed for your home instead of uncontrolled infiltration.
- CO testing on any appliances that use Gas or Oil.
- A house that is usually 15% more efficient than code.
Consider that a home could cost $500,000 wouldn’t you want the items above?
The Big screen TV, has no payback, the new car no payback. Lets face it not many purchases will change our expenses. Home Performance repair costs can be shown next to their estimated payback time given in years. As an example, let’s compare a typical Home Performance job to a 10 year CD. With an average repair cost of $12,000 for a home, with a more then possible payback of 7 or 8 years, would mean earning a large income for 2 to 3 years. Think about that, in 7 to 8 years the upgrades paid for themselves. Now we have 2 or 3 years where we could earn $3,000 to $5,000 back!
What is the most important reason to invest this way ?
Its no surprise to us who do this every day, that when a home is built or renovated the right way, following a sound building science based plan, that the home is much more comfortable, durable and safe.
I ask people to day dream a little, and think back to the most beautiful weather they have ever experienced. Where were you ? Why was it so perfect for you ?
Well, think about how many amazing days you have yearly, where ever you live. A common answer from us folks in the North East could be from 5-15 days a year. That pretty much means we depend on our HVAC equipment more than 95% of the year. How come we don’t make our own homes indoor weather that perfect ? Well, I can tell you from the hundreds of projects I have been on, more people are downright surprised with just how comfortable they are.
99% of all home failures are moisture related. End of story. One of the most influential and prolific building science gurus in our time is Joseph Lstiburek, Ph.D., P.Eng.
His presentations make mention of windows and doors, and that they are holes into a home. Holes that leak. May be not today, or even tomorrow. Rest assured, every window and will door leak. Its simply a question of when. Building Science teaches us how not to be dumb, and how not to do dumb things. To this point, if it leaks (And it will) wouldn’t you want to design it so it leaks to the outside ?
Once you understand the properties and methods to the forces we are fighting, the way you should build a home simply becomes more of a question of why wouldn’t you.