Adirondack Country Homes Realty Inc. Offers GO GREEN Ideas

 

 

Go Green!

 

The USA represents only 5% of the world's population; but we consume 25% of the world's energy supplies!   As you can see the facts tell us that our energy consumption needs a diet!  A little truthful humor reminds us of the yester year when we didn't know the Green Movement (click here to enjoy).  Click here for more food for thought!

 

 

Our efforts will help our own bottom line and our planet.  There are two way major ways in which we, as individuals, can GO GREENER and achieve personal cost savings.    1) conserving energy ie. lowering our own usage; and 2) utilize our energy more efficiently.   Go Green, isn't just installing bamboo flooring, or new windows; but rather a overall approach.   By using a 'whole system' approach, you can detect greener ways to retrofit and power your home.  A salesperson might sell you the top-of-the-line E window, but if the sills leak like a sieve,  you aren't going to recognize any cost savings or any energy conservation (remember, someone had to build those windows and use more of nature's raw materials).   Below are some tips and tools to help you to GO Greener.  Better yet!   Get an Energy Audit!  We highly recommend a personal Energy Audit.  Some energy companies and municipalities offer free home energy audit programs; but if not, the cost of such an audit will easy provide returns for the homeowner and, of course, add value to your home.  An Energy Certification* home is one way to win over a buyer!

 

What is an Energy Audit?  An Energy Auditor can identify the size, condition, type ad rate of energy consumption of each energy using devise in the household; recommend appropriate energy maintenance, operation and conservation procedures; estimate materials and labor costs associated with energy retrofits; and project the savings to be received; note any current or potential health and/or safety issues and how they can be avoided or minimized by the energy retrofits; review consumer behaviors changes that can be made to save energy waste; and provide a diagnostic tests results in written form to suggest a course of action for energy reduction.  That audit report is a like a whole house energy manual.

 

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Assist our planet with being energy efficient (using less energy to provide the same services we enjoy) and energy conservation (reducing the consumption on nonrenewable resources and emissions)

First let's start at the home front ......GO GREEN!

Some usual home causes of wasted energy an Energy Auditor may find:  (Disclosure:  below are highlights, but a certified EA can analyze your specific home and provide the best plan for you.  DIY is a good start; but the pros are the GREENER way to go!!!)

 

Poor insulation - an auditor can actually measure the thermal heat escaping a home.  Closed cell spray form is an excellent way to retrofit an older home; and if you are using your attic, open cell foam on the roof rafters is a great way to keep that attic cooler while keeping the home warm below 

 

Ducts - make sure all duct are clean and free of mold, check for leaks and that the seals between joints.  Make sure the vents are the correct type for the home and positioned correctly within the insulation envelope.  Think of the home as a envelope.  Are your ducts outside the envelope going through cold air?  Or is your cooling ducts in the hot attic?  Keep the transportation of that energy safe!

 

Internal and external air leakage -  The EPA states that 25 to 40% of the energy used for heating is wasted due to air leads around the building envelope.  Plug the holes.  It isn't just about adding insulation because if it it's installed wrong, you can actually decrease your R value you are attempting to achieve.  If your Energy Audit does recommend window replacement, the southern windows capture the solar rays.  Aluminum and wood are great thermal heat transfers materials, so Vinyl or insulated Energy Star Windows are worth the expense; verse repurposing old windows.  The whole approach review from the Auditor will determine if insulation is best need before window replacement; and what type of window works best for your site.

 

Cooling systems - is your HVAC unit in the attic roasting in 120 degree?  Time for some property insulation above to seal the building envelope.

 

Site Remediation - The sun is our earth's radiator.  Correct eves on the house, can make the different in correct shading.  A front porch protects the first level from the sun's rays.  A metal bright roof reflects the heat so your attic will be cooler.  BTW, where is your HVAC unit? Is it in the attic working OT?

 

 

Go Green!

Resident behaviors (analysis your own habits and behaviors at home)

 

Appliances & Lighting - Did you know that incandesce bulbs are 90% and 10% light?   Compact fluoresce bulbs save you 70%; LED saves 85%; and halogen 30%?   Did you know that your refrigerator alone can use up to 12% of your home electrical use?  Definitely time to upgrade your light bulbs and when you need to upgrade your appliances go "Energy Star" rating.   All Energy Star are not alike, so read your labels!  Lower your phantom loads (i.e. electronic appliances use energy even when  switched off or in standby mode so why not add a power switch to really turn off).

Hot water heaters - check with your Energy Auditor to see if a wrapping, or isolating the area the heater is placed is a better course than replacement first.  Spending hundreds of dollars to put your new heater in a cold basement doesn't solve all your problems. Thinking of a waterless tank?   Have your auditor review the facts of the energy used to instantly heat the water, the cost of the unit itself, before going off shopping.  Again, this may not be the best whole approach.  Perhaps a simple aerator shower head retrofit and less lengthily showers are a better approach.  The correct tankless water heater can save 50% of your costs.

Home Offices - watch the phantom loads, and consider putting a power strip to truly shut off the power.

Bedrooms - simple motion detectors can save up to 54% of the energy for the room.

Bathrooms - have high water usage, consider employing aerator faucets.  Shower use 17% of all indoor water usage, and a typical shower head uses 2.5 gpm.  Utilizing a low flow shower head saves about 2,300 gallons a year!  There are low gallon water saving commode on the market as well to add to your upgrades and save 30% water use.  Did you know that running a regular faucet for 5 minutes is equal to a 60 watt bulb for 14 hours?  Faucet are 15% of all water used in the home and can can consume 1.5 gallons a minute while an aerator faucet consumes 1.25 gallons a minute, saving you up to 30% without sacrificing performance.

Living Rooms and Family Rooms - in addition to changing the bulb types, adding a light sensor can increase your efficiency. up to 30%.  Traditional wood fireplaces pull more air out of the house than heat the house!  Fire need air, so it will pull the heated air from your room.  80% of the heat you gain from the fireplace is pulled from the room; and get get about a 20% return of thermal heat from your fireplace.  Historically rooms with fireplaces were small compartments, large enough for the fireplace to heat the residents; but the air quality was always low.  The simple addition of a programmable thermostat is a quick, cheap and easy retrofit that will save you energy costs.  There is no need to heat the area when no one is there to enjoy it. 

Kitchens - consider when upgrading your next appliance to make it a goal to get your appliances up to "Energy Star" ratings.  Start with your refrigerator that uses up to 12% of your total electric bill!   Do you find yourself walking away a running faucet to get another supply?  You aren't alone.  Perhaps a foot pedal water saver is your cup of tea?   Kitchen use on average $52/month on your water bill. 

Irrigation - Our gardens are important to us, in both esthetics, food production, and adding value to our homes.  Proper irrigation from simple recycling of the rain water goes a long way (ie. gutter rain chain, rain barrels, soaking lines for our gardens).   With the popular sprinkler systems, 20% is evaporated; 20% falls on non-porous land. so much is lost before it us use.   Changing out to a soaking system with mulch is a big saver at a low cost.  Did you know?  A common 200 s/f roof can capture 1,200 gallons of water with 1" of rainfall in a hour.  The average family uses 400 gallons a day.  1% of all the planets  water is portable?  Grey water systems can be simple to elaborate. 

Landscaping Tips - Trees and shrubs planted on wind side for protection; plants indigenous to the area and drought tolerant

Repurposing Ideas - There are hundreds of web sites to help you repurpose your own materials.  YouTube is a great source of teaching you to upholstering your old chair from outgrown jeans; or transforming a jar into a beautiful vase.  Not only are you saving your own funds; but the conserving our planets resources and saving the energy it take to make a new product.  Also, next time you think about buying a non-recycled trivet - rethink "do I need this" or "can I get it at a second hand shop"?   If you don't need it, avoid the purchase; and when others avoid the purchase as well, perhaps the vendor will fail to make more useless items and thus save our resources.  It takes the 'whole approach' for the planet to be well also

Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) - with tighter homes being achieved with better products, one should look at the whole building approach.  Furniture, carpet, fabrics, cabinets, and adhesives are a few items that produce 'off gassing".  Meaning, they will emit toxic gases and often for years.  Paint, believe it or not is the quickest to release its toxins; but we recommend going zero VOC paint, or low VOC.  When making choices of new cabinets, thing about the glues utilized, or those fresh smelling carpets?  The fresh smell is anything but good for you and probably the reason why many children are having early health concerns.  It's not certain; but reducing the toxin gas in our homes needs to be considered.  Choose your materials well.  Look for the "Green Guard" label when purchasing your next carpet choice.  Utilize Medium Dense Fiber board with no added formaldehyde for your next trim project.  Strain woven bamboo flooring is 3 times stronger than oak and 2 times of maple with a 25 year warrant and zero VOC's!  Repurpose building materials is an obvious.

                          

                   

Grey water systems -  Employing a grey water system (simple or elaborate) saves our planet resources and utilizes those resources efficiently.  Our US water and treatment plants use enough electrical power uses enough electric to power 5 million homes for a year!   Some simple techniques along can save on your water bill; and a grey water system can save tremendous water bills and save on our planet resources.  Why do we need fresh drinking portable water to flush our toilets?  

 

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Food for Thought

 

Did you know that the average s/f of a US home is 2,100 s/f?   We are first place!   The UK is 2nd place at 1,000 s/f.

1% of all the planet's water is portable.

Below the frost line, the earth is between 45 - 52 degrees?  The Romans were the first to use the geothermal value of the earth to heat their homes.

 

In 200 BC China and the Mid East used the first windmills to pump water and grind grain.  We proud to say that the US is 3rd in the utilization of the windmill technology; but it still accounts for only 1% of the worlds energy source!  The Department of Energy believes wind power can solve our power needs for the entire country.

150 years ago, wood (a biomass renewable source) served at 90% of our energy sources; today we utilize only 7% of our energy consumption from renewable sources, and wood is only 55% of that 7%.

Our sun is our best radiator.  41% of the sun's ray are visible light, 9% ultra violet and 50% infra red.

Every hour the earth surfaces falls enough solar energy to heat the word energy for one year!  SO WHY WE CONSUMING SO MUCH FOSSIL FUEL?  (hint:  $$)

Did you know?  EPA states indoor air pollution is in the top 5 environmental dangers to the public, and 2 to 5 times more   polluted that outside.  Americans spend 90% of their time indoors!  Think about that next time you plan an Adirondack hiking trip or adventure. 

     A Great Energy Team consist of:

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A Certified Energy Auditor

 
    ► LEED Accredited Professionals  
    ► Professionals knowledgeable with LEEDS and NABH certification standards*:  
 

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Appraisers

Lenders

Home Inspectors

Landscapers

Contractors (incl. architects, carpenters, contractors for HVAC, roofing, windows, insulation specialist, tile/granite, carpet installer, landscape designer/architect)

Other:  Solar/Wind/Geothermal contractors, mold inspectors & remediation company, lead inspector and remediation companies, radon inspector, and asbestos removal company (search www.epa.gov)

 

             Building or Retrofitting your purchase?  ACHR agents can help you will finding all of the above!  We even have a log & timber frame model

             home builder on our team.  Our full service Concierge Info Site also can help you discover what part of the Adirondacks is best for you.   

 

     RESOURCES and GLOSSARY:

  • LEEDS - Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (www.usgbc.org)

  • RESNET - Residential Energy Services Network (www.resnet.us)

  • HERS - Home Energy Rating System - ERS raters establishes home energy usage of cooling, lighting, heating, pumps, hot water, range, ceiling fans, refrigeration, dishwasher, Photovoltaic, dryers and miscellaneous appliances.

  • NAHB - National Association of Home Builders (www.nahb.org)

  • Energy Star Certifications - is based on energy rates from HERS (www.energystar.gov)

  • USGBC - United States Green Building Council - a non-profit organization that establishes guidelines for building new homes.  They established a point system used in the LEED certification (www.usgbc.org)

  • EPA - Environmental Protection agency, created in 1934 as the goal to improve housing standards and condition, and to provide adequate home financing system through loan programs (www.epa.gov)

  • FSC - Forest Stewardship Council, a non profit organization to encourage responsible management of forest.

  • Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency - (www.dsire.org)

  • Flex our Power - energy saving tips (www.fypower.org)

  • IECC - International Energy Conservation Code designed to provide energy conservation provisions for residential and commercial buildings.

  • R-Value - measurement of thermal (heat) resistance.  A higher R-value of windows or insulation indicates a greater resistance to heat flow

  • U-Factor - Measures how well a product prevents heat from escaping.  The rate of heat loss is indicated in terms of the U-factor of a window assembly.  U-factor ratings generally fall between .20 and 1.20 with the lower conserving more energy.

  • Star Energy products - an International standard for energy efficient consumer products.

          Mortgage Resources:

    Energy Efficient Mortgages - these types of mortgages uses energy savings from a new energy efficient home to increase the home buying power of the consumer and capitalizes on the energy savings in the appraisal. 

    Energy Improvement Mortgage - finances the energy upgrades of an existing home in the mortgage loan using the monthly energy savings.

    FHA Energy Mortgage - FHA allows homebuyers to finance the cost of adding energy efficient upgrades to existing homes with restrictions.

    VA Energy Mortgage - The Department of Veterans Affairs insures energy mortgages used in conjunction with VA mortgage loans (www.vba.va.gov/VBA).

    Fannie Mae Energy Mortgage Program - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac allows homebuyers to borrow a % of your home's appraised value for improvements documented by a HERS rater. (www.freddiemac.com) (www.freddiemac.com)

    Department of Energy and EPA Energy Mortgage Programs - (www.energy.gov)


      

 

Go Green!

 

ACHR offers help in reducing your energy costs as your Ambit Energy Consultant.

Sign up today and get started on your savings (click here). 

All it takes is 10 minutes!

Go Green!
 

 

Tax Credits:

Guide from Energy Star

http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index

Facts from IRS

 

http://www.irs.gov/uac/Energy-Incentives-for-Individuals-in-the-American-Recovery-and-Reinvestment-Act

Program Assistance:

Application for New Yorkers:

Weatherization Assistance

Program for New Yorkers:

National Grid's Registration:

 

http://www.homestarenergyservice.com/uploads/HSAudit_Application.pdf

 

http://www.nyshcr.org/Publications/HousingInformationSeries/hiswap.pdf

https://www.nationalgridus.com/niagaramohawk/business/forms/4_small_form.asp

 

* LEEDS certification classes include 1) Certified, 2) Bronze, 3) Gold and the highest rating of Platinum.   THE NABH certification has four levels of certification as well: 1) Certified, 2) Silver, 3) Gold and the highest is Emerald.  Energy Star ratings actually mean you are 85% efficient over today's building codes.  NOT all certifications are equal!  Adding either a LEEDS or a NAHB increases the efficient level of the home, with the Emerald and Platinum being the king of energy!