Water & Energy Efficiency Features

July 11, 2018 | By Kathleen Forrest

Note that while we don't often have the need to conserve water here like some municipalities, it could be important in the future. In the meantime, less water usage means lower water bills.

Efficient Vanity Faucets, Toilets and Showerheads: All showerheads have a flow rate of less than 2.5 gallons per minute, and all vanity faucets have a flow rate of 15 gallons per minute or less. New technology helps the shower to "feel" like it has more water flowing through it than it does. The numbers add up to significant savings on water through the course of the year.

Zoned Sprinkler System: Shrub and flower beds are zoned separately from turf areas because they have much different water requirements. This is better for the plants and saves water and money.

One in Energy New Home Program: Many builders, including us, have switched to this program in lieu of Energy Star. This new program will meet or exceed most of the Energy Star requirements we've been using over the past few years, including third-party inspections and blower door tests. Homes are independently inspected and tested for specific performance. Using the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) we can model the home's energy performance and estimate its annual energy consumption. A HERS score of 100 is how a code-built home should perform. A HERS score of 50 should use 50% less energy than a code-built home. Our homes average a HERS score of 50-55. Most older homes will far exceed 100.

Argon Filled Low-E Dual Pane Vinyl Windows: Windows are the weak link in a home's thermal barrier. These windows insulate against heat transfer much better than standard windows and block out much of the harmful UV light that damages interior finishes.

R-44 Cellulose Attic Insulation: R-44 is about the maximum insulation thickness that makes sense in our climate. After that, diminishing returns sets in. Fiberglass will quickly lose its R-value as attic temperatures decrease in winter due to cold a convection. Because cellulose is much denser, it is much less prone to cold convection, thus keeping its stated R-value in cold weather much better than fiberglass.

2x6 walls: Increases the walls insulation value by over 30%. Fewer studs mean more square footage covered with insulation and less thermal bridging through studs. 2x6 walls on 2' centers use fewer board feet of lumber and are stronger than 2x4 walls on 16" centers. Insulation R-value is 21 vs 13 on 2x4 walls.

Net and Blow Wall Insulation: Wall cavities are rarely exactly 16" or 24" on center meaning that the rolled batt insulation frequently leaves uninsulated gaps. Net and blow insulation fills these gaps much better when properly installed.

An Insulated Foundation: A surprising amount of heat is lost or gained through the foundation. Insulating not only reduces this loss, but also helps to protect from frost heaving, a common occurrence in foundation failures.

Frame and Attic Seal: Thick insulation is not very effective if a house leaks a lot of air. An air barrier is created between the conditioned space of the house and the outside using sheathing, tapes, caulks, sealants and expanding foam prior to and after sheetrock. Energy Star minimum standard is .35 ACHn (air changes per hour, natural). In blower door tests, our homes frequently perform 50% better than the Energy Star minimum.

HVAC Duct Seal: Even brand new homes can leak 20%-25% of the air in the ducts into the attic. This is highly inefficient and can introduce dusty contaminants from the attic into the home. All of our air handling equipment is sealed with mastics and special tapes to bring our duct leakage to no more than 6%.

16 SEER AIC and 95% Efficient Furnace: Code built homes have 13 SEER AC and 80% efficient furnaces which are at least 19% less efficient than 16 SEER units. Heating and cooling account for 50% of a home's energy consumption and 40% of the energy consumed in the United States.

R-8 Insulated Ducts: 100% more insulation than the industry standard of R-6 ducts. This is a big deal when ducts are run in the attic as they are in Oklahoma.

98% Efficient Navien Tankless Water Heater: Navien is the most efficient tankless water heater on the market and has the best warranty. It uses clean burning, abundant natural gas and you'll never run out of hot water.

Energy Star Qualified Ceiling Fans: These fans typically use 50% less energy than a nonqualified fan saving around $15/year per fan. It all adds up.

Energy Star Qualified Dishwasher: These dishwashers typically save $40 or more per year on energy and save 1300 gallons of water per year over non-qualified models.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs: These bulbs pay for themselves. They can use 75% less energy and generate 75% less heat than a comparable incandescent bulb, reducing the load on the air conditioner. They can also last up to 6 times longer than incandescent bulbs resulting in a savings of over $40 per bulb over its lifetime.

Advanced Framing: California corners and ladder "T's" allow exterior corners and wall junctions to be insulated. They also consume less lumber which saves you money.

Solar board: Used in place of OSBon roof decking, this product reflects up to 97% of the sun's radiant heat resulting in attics that are up to 30 degrees cooler in the summer. It will also help hold heat in during the winter. It will help reduce energy bills and help the HVAC system perform better and last longer.

Transfer/Jumper Grills: These balance the pressure between rooms creating a more comfortable and efficient operating HVAC system.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

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