In our countries history there has never been more attention to wanting to build and live more “green”. The idea is to reduce the greenhouse effect on our planet, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and to protect our natural resources for future generations. One of the ways we can all contribute is to consider the products we put in our homes and buildings. Today there are more product choices than ever that save energy, that are sustainable, cost effective, and perform as well if not better other choices.
When new buildings are constructed, whether single family homes, multi-family dwellings or commercial buildings, this is the time to consider products that have sustainability features and that will reduce energy consumption. In many cases you have one chance to get it right due to excessive costs of retro fitting the building in the future. One example is wall insulation. For minimal additional cost the R-value of insulation can be increased at time of construction. This additional R-value in the insulation will start providing energy savings on the first day the building is occupied. The additional R-value of the insulation will also provide energy saving benefits for the life of the building for many years to come. Today there are many choices of insulating materials that have sustainable features. Everything from fiberglass, cotton, cellulose, and foam are all offering higher R-values and green components. Insulation is just one example of doing it right at time of construction. Other energy saving and sustainable products that should be considered in new construction include lighting fixtures, HVAC equipment, windows, doors, plumbing fixtures just to name a few.
Weatherization of Existing Buildings and Homes
There are many cost effective ways to weatherize homes and buildings today. For a small investment, in some cases just few dollars, a building or home will start using less energy and be more comfortable immediately. Leaks around doors, windows and other penetrations in the building envelope can contribute up to 40% of energy loss of heating and cooling efforts. Simply by caulking and sealing these leaks it will dramatically reduce energy consumption and increase the comfort of the building. Replacing worn door and window weather-stripping with modern materials designed to withstand extreme temperature changes will have a positive return. In many cases these new products will last much longer than similar products offered a few years ago. There are many other low cost measures that will reduce energy consumption in existing buildings. Low flow plumbing products such are shower heads and faucet aerators are easily installed and cost just a few dollars. Replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient alternatives not only saves energy, but can reduce life cycle costs to user. These are just examples of weatherization measures that save energy, create comfort, and contribute to our national green effort.