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Energy Efficiency in Your New Home
Plus: Top 10 ways to save energy from SCANA

Building homes with energy efficiency in mind has become a top priority for developers and builders in the metro Atlanta new home market.

Examples of ways to make a home more energy efficient include installing double-pained windows or appliances that are Energy Star certified, which is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect the climate through superior energy efficiency. Both means of using less energy help reduce energy bills, as well as the amount of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere.

Claudia Rossi with PulteGroup, a homebuilding company founded in 1950 and headquartered in Buckhead, says her company provides quite a few options for homeowners to consider if they want a more energy-efficient home. These include: house wrap, which serves as a secondary moisture barrier, Superior Industrial Insulation, programmable thermostats, high performance, low-e glass windows, efficient HVAC systems and Energy Star-certified appliances.

Lennar, another home construction company that opened its offices in metro Atlanta in 2010, utilizes several of these energy-efficient means when building new homes. Rose Humphrey, marketing manager with the company, makes note of several energy-efficient benefits to consider when constructing a new home. “House wrap combats losing conditioned air, and our sealant package uses foam and/or caulk around all exterior walls and ceilings next to unconditioned spaces to prevent penetrations. Efficient gas furnaces, LED and CFL lights help reduce energy usage,” she says.

Humphrey adds that Lennar also uses LP TechShield, a radiant barrier sheath attached to the inside of the roofing panel of the home to reduce monthly cooling costs by blocking up to 97 percent of the radiant heat in the panel from emitting into a home’s attic. “This is made with a wood sourced through programs certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and saves up to 17 percent on monthly home cooling costs,” she adds.

LP TechShield is made by LP Building Products, a world leader in manufacturing quality engineered wood building materials and innovative building products for more than 40 years. “We continue to improve our current products while developing new ones with superior strength, durability and quality for advanced ways of building,” says Rick Marsh, marketing manager for LP Building Products.

All of LP’s products are made from wood, a renewable natural resource, and their forest management and fiber sourcing programs are certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative forest management and fiber sourcing standards. Since its creation, LP TechShield has been installed in more than 1.5 million homes across the United States. Among the top 20 builders in metro Atlanta, more than half use LP TechShield sheathing on their homes.

Marsh says it’s important for new home builders to consider energy products like LP TechShield because of cost savings. “Plus, [homeowners] can account for additional points and result in an overall lower [Home Energy Rating System] score,” he says. “The product is backed by a 20-year transferable limited warranty.

Top 10 Ways to Save Energy

1. Set thermostat at 68 degrees or lower in the winter and 78 degrees or higher in the summer.

2. Replace an old thermostat with a programmable model.

3. Inspect heating and cooling equipment as recommended by the manufacturer.

4. Caulk around windows, outside doors, baseboards, exhaust fans, dryer vents, places where pipes and wires enter the house and where the walls meet the foundation.

5. Upgrade attic insulation to a minimum of R-38 (12-14 inches). If you’re having a new roof installed, consider adding Energy Star-certified shingles.

6. Switch to CFLs and LEDs. CFLs use up to 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and can last up to 10 times longer. On average, LEDs last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

7. Check ducts for tears, falling or crushing. Repair with mastic (a plaster-like substance available at local hardware stores). Insulate ducts and hot water pipes passing through unheated areas like the garage, basement and attic. Use duct wrap insulation or batt insulation and duct tape.

8. Use draft guards at the bottom of doors that open into areas that are not air-conditioned or heated.

9. Replace old appliances with Energy Star appliances. Having an energy-efficient refrigerator, dishwasher and clothes washer can save energy. These appliances may cost more initially, but will save on operating costs. When shopping for a new gas range, consider a pilotless ignition system because it uses less gas than models with a continuously burning pilot. When shopping for a new clothes dryer, consider a “moisture sensing” device that shuts off automatically when your clothes are dry.

10. Shade your air conditioning unit to increase its efficiency by up to 10 percent during peak periods.

Source: SCANA Energy