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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why You Should Include Energy Saving Systems When Building Homes

By Amy Nutt

If you are building a new home, you have a unique opportunity to do something to help the environment, and your energy bills. While you are making choices about your home, be sure to include energy saving systems in the home. It is far more affordable to do this now as you build the home than to upgrade at a later date when you are ready to make a difference on your utility bills, and you may even receive a tax credit for doing so.

The Best Systems to Consider When you are considering the systems that should be the most energy efficient, focus first on your HVAC system. Make sure the unit is properly sized for your home. A unit that is too large will use too much energy, and a unit that is too small will have to work hard to keep up with the need in your home. Make sure that the contractor considers all aspects of your home, including the typical climate of your area, where your home is positioned in relation to the sun, the heat loss or gain in the home, and the air leakage that is common in new homes such as yours.

Choose a heater and air conditioner that are backed by the Energy Star label. This will ensure that it is as energy efficient as possible. If you do, you will notice a difference on your energy bills when compared to the home you are currently living in.

Seal the Ducts One part of the HVAC system that can lead to energy loss is the duct system. Make sure that the system is designed to properly heat and cool the home. Vents should be in areas of the room where they will circulate air well, and every room should have a return vent.

If your duct system has a leak, you are losing money in the same way that you would if you had a drip in your faucet. Make sure that the contractor pays special attention to sealing the ducts when your house is built. Ask the builder how the ducts are sealed, and if you are not happy with the answer, insist on a better technique. Duct systems can be permanently sealed with mastic or UL 181 tape.

Consider a Humidifier One way to get more out of your HVAC system is to install a whole-house humidifying system. A humidifier will help the house feel warmer in the winter, and dehumidifying in the summer can help it feel cooler if you live in a humid area. This means you can adjust your thermostat slightly, saving even more energy. Installing a whole-house unit when you build the house is a far better option than trying to attach one after the HVAC system has been installed.

Don't Forget the Windows Your windows are the place that you will lose the most energy, so make sure you choose the right ones. This is a place to splurge a little on your budget. Pay extra to get Energy Star windows that will not let out as much of your heating or cooling energy. Make sure the windows are sealed properly as well, because even the slightest leak on a window will make a tremendous difference on the amount of energy that is lost.

Making these decisions when you build your house will make a bigger impact than retrofitting the house to be more energy efficient later. It will also be more affordable to do the job now than to do it after the home is complete. Talk to your builder to find out what energy efficient systems are available for your home.

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