Saving Green with Energy-Efficient Building Products



you're in the market for a new home, make sure you carefully examine
the houses you visit to see which building products installed in the
home can help save on your long-term energy bills. Choosing a home
constructed with energy efficient and easy maintenance products can help
keep the "green" in your home ... and in your wallet.

"Look beyond the number of bedrooms and bathrooms when visiting homes
for sale," says Mark Clement, co-host of MyFixitUpLife home improvement
talk show. "Homebuyers should walk in with a checklist that includes
seeking out ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances, windows and HVAC systems.
They should also be looking for a roof with an exceptional warranty, an
energy-efficient fiberglass entry door, and preferably an insulated
precast concrete basement. Low-maintenance exterior siding, trim
shutters and other details also play into the equation."

Clement, a professional contractor with 20+ years of experience,
believes homebuyers can save long-term funds by making smart purchasing
decisions in the beginning. "You don't buy a house for today, but a home
for tomorrow," says Clement. "You want it to last without having to
replace half of the home while you live there."

From his experience, Clement offers consumers this "take along
checklist" for evaluating homes "from the bottom up" when visiting
houses for sale:

  • Basement - Look for a damp-free basement. A
    fantastic situation is a foundation constructed with precast concrete
    wall panels rather than poured or block concrete. As opposed to concrete
    blocks or poured concrete, precast concrete panels provide a dry,
    comfortable, damp-resistant foundation for a home. The energy-efficient
    walls help lower energy costs and reduce energy leakage while providing
    increased living space in a comfortable setting.

  • HVAC System - Ask about ENERGY STAR and efficiency
    ratings on the furnace, air conditioning unit, boilers and heat pumps
    in any home you look at. Ideally you want products that have the "ENERGY
    STAR Most Efficient" designation. This special classification
    recognizes the most efficient products in these categories, which can
    help you save on energy bills.

A second inspection by an HVAC professional may also pay for itself
in a few months of utility bills. HVAC systems are often over or
undersized. Ductwork that's too small takes a trained eye to spot. In
other words, even if a furnace's rating is 98 percent efficient, if the
ducts it runs into are too small the unit will never run at peak
efficiency --- and you'll pay for it in your utility bills.

  • Entry door - As you look at the home's main entry
    door, determine what the door is made of. A solid fiberglass door is up
    to four times more energy efficient than a solid wood door, plus you get
    the benefits that fiberglass has to offer, including resistance to rot,
    rust, dings and weather.

    Touch the door and check for drafts around the perimeter. If the door
    feels hot or cold, there may not be enough adequate insulation in its
    construction. And, look carefully at the weatherstripping to make sure
    it has not worn out, which can cause air leakage. Also look for bubbling
    or faded paint at the edges, rust or other signs of wear. If a door
    needs to be replaced, consider the fiberglass entry doors in the
    Therma-Tru® Classic-Craft® line. They can come with woodgrain for
    staining or a smooth surface that can be painted to accent any home


  • Siding - Look carefully at all sides of the home
    exterior to see if there is any rotting, warpage, loose or missing
    pieces or signs of termite damage on the siding. A properly installed
    cladding should provide years of low-maintenance, comfort and quiet
    service. Fiber cement, stucco and brick home exteriors are a few options
    that are traditionally easy to maintain while providing a long-lasting,
    dependable exterior.


  • Windows - Determine when the windows were last
    replaced in the home and what type of framing material is used. One way
    to tell their age is to operate them. They should open, close and lock
    smoothly. Ideally, you're looking for vinyl-framed windows which are
    extremely easy to maintain. Vinyl is an excellent insulator, and some of
    the best windows have fusion-welded corners and multi-chambered
    construction for increased energy efficiency.

    Many manufacturers offer ENERGY STAR qualified glass packages with
    Argon or Krypton gas fill. These harmless gasses help prevent the
    penetration of ultraviolet rays into the home and help keep a home
    cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, resulting in lower energy
    bills for the homeowner.


  • Trim - Examine the trimwork, porch railings,
    shutters, louvers and other exterior decorative features on the home. If
    these are poorly installed or made with substandard products, you may
    find signs of rotting, insect infestation or the need for repainting or
    repair. Seek out urethane trim products that are resistant to weather
    conditions, humidity, rotting and insects. These decorative products
    offer years of beauty without the hassles of ongoing maintenance.


  • Roof - Look up at the roof and search for curling,
    broken, missing or fading shingles. Ask about the age and material of
    the roof, and about the roof's warranty. Stay away from natural,
    untreated wood shake roofs that can be a fire hazard or those roofing
    materials that can be damaged by hail, insects or severe weather.

    Look for a roof that has a strong warranty to assure you won't be replacing the roof often.  



Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.