Understanding Factors in Energy-Efficient Home Construction

 In Consumer Information, Energy Efficiency, Green Building, Home Building

Judie Docs, Executive Officer, North Coast Building Industry Association (NCBIA), CSP, MCSP, CGP, CMP, MIRM

According to research from NAHB, nearly half of home buyers are willing to invest between $1,000 and $10,000 in order to save $1,000 annually on their utility bills, and 37% are willing to spend upward of $10,000. But do prospective homeowners know what an energy-efficient home is and the terminology surrounding the types of building practices and features they are looking for?

An energy-efficient home is one that uses less energy than a traditional home without compromising service to owners and occupants. Energy efficiency can be achieved through improved thermal envelopes, solar-oriented construction, low-e windows and efficient appliances.

Programs that measure energy efficiency include:

  • National Green Building Standard (NGBS)
  • ENERGY STAR
  • Enterprise Green Communities
  • Green Globes
  • Living Building Challenge
  • LEED

There are also three categories of energy efficiency homeowners should be aware of based on their current needs and interests: 

  • Net Zero-Energy Home: A home that produces as much energy as it uses. The energy produced by the home must meet the household’s needs. This is often achieved through renewable energy such as solar panels. To achieve net-zero energy, the home should be designed using a holistic approach that strives for efficiency and reduces energy consumption without sacrificing service or comfort.
  • Net Zero-Energy-Ready Home: A home that is outfitted with the necessary structural and technological support to install energy-producing technologies in the future. Net zero energy-ready homes are appropriate for home owners who would like the option to install energy-producing technology in the future. It is also a Department of Energy program that partners with and recognizes builders and those professionals who build to specific requirements around energy savings, comfort, health, and durability.
  • Net Positive-Energy Home: A home that produces more energy than it needs. It is energy either produced by specific technologies or saved through energy-efficiency measures. Homeowners may receive credit from their utility company for excess energy returned to the grid.

Homeowners can get a general sense of how energy efficient the home might be using the following rating systems:

  • Home Energy Score (HES): This is a Department of Energy program often used for existing homes. A home receives a score of 1-10 based on its energy use, with 10 being the most efficient. As with a miles-per-gallon rating for a car, the HES is based on a standard assessment of energy-related assets to allow for easy comparisons across homes in the housing market.
  • Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index: This is a Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) program often used for new homes. A home receives a score of 0-150 based on an energy audit and report, with a lower score indicating a more energy-efficient home. The scoring system compares your home to a home built to code in 2006, which is known as the reference home. The reference home would score a 100 on the HERS index, whereas a newer home or one built to a green standard might score a 60.

More information on high-performance sustainability and green building practices is available at nahb.org/green.

For more information on about the latest green products and building techniques available to you, contact the NCBIA.

We are your local not-for-profit trade association representing member companies involved in all aspects of home building, remodeling, and other aspects of services available to help you in the future as well as more information on the above topic.   So, you can see it is for your protection that you use a NCBIA member. If you are unsure that your contractor is a member of the NCBIA or you are looking for a list of NCBIA members, you can visit our website at www.ncbia.com or call 440-934-1090.   We also have a job posting board (under the Industry tab).

Just Built!  Our 24/7 Virtual Parade of Homes!!!  Allows you to look at some of our builders’ new homes and communities on your mobile device or computer at your leisure (including our remodelers) We know time is our greatest asset and via our NCBIA Virtual Parade of Homes, we save you time looking for a new home or a community that fits your lifestyle.  The Virtual Parade of Homes is open online 24/7.  Many of the homes featured in our ALL NEW Virtual Parade host regular open house hours for those consumers who are looking to tour the actual homes.  You can click through to builder websites to see what they have to offer.

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Homeownership is truly a cornerstone of the American way of life.  North Coast Building Industry – Come Build with Us!

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