It has been a controversial question in the home real estate market for years: Is there extra green when you buy green? Do houses with lots of energy-saving and sustainability features sell for more than houses without them? If so, by how much?
In their 5-year study of 1.6 million homes “The Value of Green Labels in the California Housing Market” researchers Matthew E. Kahn and Nils Kok that find that homes with a green certification, like LEED and Energy Star, were found to sell for an average of 9-percent more than non-certified homes.
This increased value, dubbed a “green premium” by the researchers, was higher in hotter climates and communities that had more hybrid vehicle registrations. A green certified home in a hotter climate makes sense – the more energy efficient a property is, the cheaper it is to keep cool in the hot summer months.
The increased green premium in higher hybrid vehicle registration areas is an interesting correlation, though. According to the report findings, “this correlation suggests that some homeowners may attribute value to intangible qualities associated with owning a green home, such as pride or perceived status.”
Basically, a keep up with the Joneses attitude, just with an eco twist. Your neighbor drives a hybrid so you buy one. Your neighbor earns a green home certification so your pursue one for your property.
Saving money on energy bills is great but some energy efficiency projects can be quite costly with thousands of dollars, or more, required upfront. The good news is that the upgrades and ultimate green home certification will pay off.
“The added value of a green-labeled home far exceeds both the estimated cost of adding energy efficiency features to a home and the utility-bill savings generated by those improvements.”
While further study is required in other areas of the country to confirm the magnitude of the impact of green certified homes in other markets, this is a great first step to confirming the monetary benefit to the strategy of designing and building high-performing homes.
Years ago, people would save energy use by closing off portions of their homes that were not being used. This occurred usually in the winter when people would huddle around a fireplace or wood stove and close off other non-heated rooms.
Some people still think that by closing off an unused room and its register saves energy. Some people close off all registers except for the one in the living room.
While this may have worked with older, non-insulated homes, it doesn’t work with today’s energy systems – forced air heating and cooling systems.
According to a 2003 study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:
“Closing registers in forced-air heating systems and leaving some rooms in a house unconditioned has been suggested as a method of quickly saving energy for consumers.
“The results of this study showed that register closing led to increased energy use for a typical house over a wide combination of climate, duct leakage, and number of closed registers. The reduction in building thermal loads due to conditioning only a part of the house was offset by increased duct system losses, mostly due to increased duct leakage. Therefore, the register closing technique is not recommended as a viable energy saving strategy for houses with ducts located outside conditioned space.
“The energy penalty associated with the register closing technique was found to be minimized if registers farthest from the air handler are closed first because this tends to only affect the pressures and air leakage for the closed off branch. Closing registers nearer the air handler tends to increase the pressures and air leakage for the whole system.
“Closing too many registers (more than 60%) is not recommended because the added flow resistance severely restricts the air flow though the system leading to safety concerns. For example, furnaces may operate on the high-limit switch and cooling systems may suffer from frozen coils.”
The Bottom Line: Your home’s duct system was designed to work most effectively and efficiently with all registers opened. Closing any of them impacts the ability of your HVAC system to keep your home and family comfortable affordably. Keep your registers open!
Energy IQ is now offering the PowerSaver Loan to our clients. With the PowerSaver Loan, you can make improvements to your home that address your financial and environmental concerns, at a great rate with fast, efficient turnaround! PLUS, as energy costs increase, your home will become more desirable on the resale market if you’ve already made these improvements and updates.
The PowerSaver Loan allows homeowners to make energy-efficient improvements to their primary residences.
Approved updates can include:
A little over a week ago, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators introduced a bill that would provide tax credits of 30% for specific residential efficiency measures which help reduce a home’s energy bill.
Known as the “Cut Energy Bills at Home Act”, the bill was presented by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA).
The legislation provides a $2,000 credit for home energy efficiency retrofits to the homeowner for a 20% improvement in home energy efficiency. For every additional 5% improvement, the homeowner is eligible for an extra $500, up to $5000. The bill specifically recognizes RESNET standards for certified Home Energy Raters to verify the credit, accredited software programs to model and calculate the energy savings and RESNET Energy Smart Contractors to install the improvements.
A previous, much more limited law providing a 10 percent tax credit – for up to $500, and towards a far more limited range of upgrades – is scheduled to expire at the end of the year.
Unlike the soon-to-be expired legislation, the Cut Energy Bills at Home Act provides tax credits for actual energy savings. If passed into law, the bill would be the nation’s first ever performance-based tax credit for home efficiency improvements.
This bill would give homeowners a break on the cost of home energy efficiency upgrades, and would also be a boost to local economies everywhere by putting contractors to work, and by keeping saved energy dollars at home. Not only will this bill help save consumers and homeowners significant amounts of money on their energy bills; but will also help spur growth in the construction, green energy, and home audit industries as well.
Needless to say, the current legislation represents a measured and thoughtful step forward for our country and its environmental and financial future. But the fight is far from over: Now more than ever, the American people must make their voices heard, and let Congress know that this bill – while a modest step towards a clean, green future – is still a step in the right direction.
Energy IQ feels strongly that a performance-based model, a model which allows the consumer to decide how to best retrofit a home, is good public policy and deserving of support. All of our field personnel are certified RESNET QADs and HERS Raters. We have the expertise to help you MAXIMIZE your investment in energy efficiency and take advantage of all available incentives. We urge you to contact your states’ Senators to encourage them to join Senator Snowe, Senator Bingaman, and Senator Feinstein in co-sponsoring the Cut Energy Bills at Home Act.
For a complete list of Congressional Representatives and their contact information, Click Here.
For more information including the legislative language and news release from Senator Snowe Click Here.
Improving and tracking your home energy efficiency is about to become an even smarter investment! A bill recently introduced in Congress would force the largest mortgage lenders, Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac and the FHA to take account of energy costs in every loan they insure, guarantee or buy. It would also require them to instruct appraisers to adjust their property valuations UPWARD when accurate data on energy efficiency savings are available.
The LA Times reports on the likelihood that the Sensible Accounting to Value Energy (SAVE) Act introduced Oct. 20 in a bi-partisan effort will make it through a contentious Congress (Link to Article). Ken Harney writes, “Business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are backing the legislation because they see it as an employment generator that requires no federal budget outlays and no new taxes or programs.
A joint study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and the Institute for Market Transformation also estimated that 83,000 new jobs in the construction, renovation and manufacturing industries could be created by the legislation if the new underwriting rules were adopted.
But you might ask: In a fractious, polarized Congress, could this bill actually make it through this session? The co-sponsors are optimistic.” Stranger things have happened…
The bottom line for homeowners: Increasing your homes’ energy efficiency and tracking your power consumption will soon be an important part of protecting and improving your home’s value. Energy IQ can help! Call us today to get started…
Oh, yes, power attic ventilators will probably keep your attic cooler, and that means you’ll have less conductive heat transfer across your ceiling. The problem is that a significant portion of the cooling in your attic will be provided by your air conditioner. So, you spend money to buy the fan, to run the fan if it’s not solar, and then your air conditioning bill goes up, too.How can that be, you ask? Isn’t it supposed to pull that blazing hot air from the attic and send it outside, replacing it with much cooler outdoor air that gets pulled in through the soffit and gable vents? In marketing theory, yes. Building science shows a different result, however.
What really happens is that when that power attic ventilator runs, it’s going to pull air from wherever it can find it. Since air takes the path of least resistance, some of it will most likely be coming from the conditioned space in your home. So basically what you’re doing is air conditioning your attic. The longer the fan runs, the more conditioned air it pulls into the attic.
If you have a perfectly air-sealed ceiling, you’re not going to have this problem, of course. The reality, however, is that few ceilings are leak-free. Since air needs only a pressure difference and a pathway to move, and your ceiling probably has plenty of pathways, it’s best not to enhance any pressure differences that will increase air movement into or out of your home.
In other words, don’t install that power attic ventilator. If you have some installed already, disable them so they never run.
If you’re tempted to buy one because it’s solar-powered and won’t increase your electricity bill, go back and read what I just said. These things probably won’t save you any money. Even if they’re solar, they’ll still suck the conditioned air out of your house and make your bill higher, not lower.
Peter Yost over at Green Building Advisor wrote about solar-powered attic ventilators a couple of years ago and laid it out perfectly. He also gave a great quote by Dr. Joe Lstiburek:
“In order for the fan to work the air needs to come from the outside and not be pulled from the house so this means that the attic ceiling needs to be airtight. If the attic ceiling is airtight you don’t need the fan. Your money is better spent on something else.”
If you want to get into the nitty-gritty research data about attics, you can download this paper (pdf) from the Florida Solar Energy Center reviewing the research not only about attic ventilation but also about sealed attics with insulation at the roofline instead of at the flat ceiling.
Power attic ventilators waste money, make your home less comfortable, and can be a health and safety problem by pulling conditioned air from your home. The bottom line is that in most cases, power attic ventilators are just not worth your time and money.
The Energy Information Administration’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey, released last week, shows that average household energy usage has remained remarkably stable over the last 30 years — even as appliances have gotten way more efficient.
Why? Well, we just have a lot more appliances. Seriously, look in your pant pockets or purse RIGHT NOW. Do you have a gadget in them? Chances are you do. I’ve got a phone in my pocket as I write this.
Also, there are 34.5 million more households in the U.S. than there were in 1978.
Yes, our dishwashers are 25 percent more efficient, but we have 25 percent more of them, that about cancels out.
A few stats from the EIA survey:
It’s not necessarily true that having more efficient (and therefore cheaper) energy CAUSES us to use more. It may be that advances in science and electronics cause both more efficient gadgets, and more of them. But it definitely seems to be the case that, compared to changing our hyper-consuming culture, making strides in the efficiency of individual appliances doesn’t make much of a difference.
Transit Oriented Development is the key to cutting energy consumption — even more so than Energy Star construction or green cars, according to a peer-reviewed study supported by EPA.
Also known as Transit Oriented Design, or TOD, Transit Oriented Development is the creation of compact, walkable communities centered around high quality train systems. This makes it possible to live a higher quality life without complete dependence on a car for mobility and survival.
The report, Location Efficiency and Housing Type—Boiling it Down to BTUs, examines the energy implications of the following scenarios:
No factor has a bigger impact than going from conventional suburban to transit-oriented design. Making that change alone results in a 50 percent reduction in energy use in multifamily buildings and 42 percent and 39 percent reductions in single family attached and detached dwellings. In fact, the most inefficient TOD beats the most efficient CSD in this study.
That said, green building and green automobiles make a significant contribution to reducing household energy use as well. If a typical suburban household were to adopt all four strategies — move to an efficient multifamily unit near transit and purchase a green car — they could reduce their energy consumption by 72 percent.
That scenario would suit some families but not others. Yet families don’t have to give up their choice of housing type to achieve significant reductions in energy use, according to the study, if a variety of multifamily and single family units are built near transit stations.
A recent Houston study shows that homes without an Energy Star label perform almost as well as Energy Star homes.
Read the article: Disappointing Savings for Energy Star Homes
Download the study: Houston Energy Efficiency Study
Energy IQ says: The GBA article does fairly point-out that the issue is not with Energy Star’s efficacy, but more that the overall quality and energy efficiency practices of all builders is rising to close the gap between Energy Star and non-labeled homes (A rising tide lifts all boats!)
What this says to us is that Energy Star is acting to raise the bar for ALL homebuilders. Energy Star v2 and v3 are proactive recognition of the need for incremental improvement of building practices to maintain Energy Star’s standard of excellence and leadership in energy efficient homebuilding!
In his online article “Why Does Energy Efficiency’s Promise Remain Unfulfilled?” posted on Yale Environment 360, Jon R Luoma takes an enlightening look at the effectiveness of energy efficiency initiatives toward reducing business operating costs and reliance on fossil fuels and the major barriers preventing most companies from taking action.
Retail giant Wal-Mart has turned heavily to efficiency to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Installing cooler, high-efficiency LED lights in its miles of frozen food displays, and replacing ceiling and parking lot lights at 650 stores has yielded energy savings of up to 70 percent.
General Motors has found ways to derive huge savings simply by coordinating the on-off cycles of conveyor belts with lighting and energy-hogging features like compressors and heaters in its manufacturing plants. The annual energy savings will be up to five times more than the cost of implementation, GM said.
Tech giant Google claims that its push for efficiency means that its own giant data centers use only half the energy of a typical data center.
That efficiency programs offer a huge opportunity to slash energy use is no longer in doubt.
According to studies cited by Luoma, within a mere 10 years, the U.S. could cut total energy use by 20 percent or more. As an added benefit, the energy savings are fiscally prudent as well: An investment of $500 billion in efficiency would end up saving $1.2 trillion in energy costs.
These studies and other research also make it clear that consumers, and even many bottom-line driven businesses, are continuing to miss what should be clear opportunities. Consider, for example, that home and business owners continue to resist taking actions as cheap and simple as caulking leaks, switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, or making wise appliance choices, despite the fact that government programs like “Energy Star” labeling help take some of the guesswork out of decisions.