Due to the current historically high costs of energy, as well as environmental concerns, American consumers are now more than ever seeking out any way they can to use energy more efficiently and save money. Using less energy and using it more efficiently has actually become an important part of most people's daily lives.
From big ticket changes, like switching to higher-milage cars and more efficient appliances, to smaller but just as important changes such as installing fluorescent lightbulbs, people are looking to do anything they can to save money on energy.
The use of more energy efficient construction methods and appliances in the design and construction of new homes is no different. Interest in using environmentally friendly or "Green" building options and techniques to save energy and help the environment, has exploded over the past few decades. In recent years this demand by consumers, as well as a deep sense of responsibility on the part of quality builders, has seen Green building methods become an increasingly important part of the conventional building process.
This is good news for everyone and is a win-win solution, which saves homeowners money as well as helps preserve our environment and our non-renewable energy resources. Charles Boyd Construction Inc. has been a leader in bringing the latest in Green design, building methods and materials to each home or commercial structure we build, as well as installing the latest and most energy-efficient appliances on the market today.
We have been firm advocates of building greener, more energy efficient homes throughout Cocoa Beach, Melbourne and Brevard County for over a decade now and we are a local leader in bringing these greener, more efficient, energy saving techniques to all of our new construction. We can thoroughly discuss with you all of your options when it comes to building a greener home, as well as recommend the best appliances and air conditioning and heating systems to install to get the most out of your building dollars.
We are passionate about designing and building stunning, extremely high-quality homes that will last for many generations. However, we are also just as passionate about building them with the most innovative, environmentally friendly, energy efficient materials on the market today, to make them as green and energy efficient as possible.
But what exactly does energy efficiency mean in terms of your new home? In terms of your home, the fundamental goal of any effort at increasing energy efficiency is to lower the overall amount of energy, and therefore the overall cost, that is needed to run the home. This is accomplished in two primary ways: first by using construction methods and materials that help lower energy costs and secondly by installing or upgrading to new air conditioning systems with a SEER 13 or above rating (Please see our Air Conditioning Systems Page for more) and Energy Star™ rated appliances throughout the home.
What kind of difference can it make to your building budget, your lifestyle and your cost of living? The short answer is it can make a huge difference in your lifestyle and cost of living, for a very small difference upfront in your initial budget.
Simple To Sophisticated Techniques To Build Green and Save Money
Integrating energy efficient design and building greener homes involves many techniques, which can range from the very simple and seemingly "no-brainer" in design changes, to using sophisticated, innovative materials and construction methods.
Often, very simple design changes can make your new home much greener and energy efficient, with very little extra cost, if any, in terms of the initial construction. As it turns out, a lot of these simple design changes can actually add to the beauty, comfort, aesthetics and even the resale value of your Florida home.
Let's take a look at some other simple changes you can make and the typical construction methods that will go into making your new home greener, how much they cost, and the expected annual savings and payback time.
Switching To Compact, Fluorescent Light Bulbs
This is one of the simplest changes you can make to save significant money on your utility bill with little upfront cost and no real labor. Numbers are based on 40 bulbs @ 3 hrs. per day. Average lifetime of a bulb is approx. 6,000 hrs.
- Initial cost: Approx. $136
- Annual Savings: Approx. $200
- Payback Time: 8 months
Professionally Sealing Ductwork
This is a common area of major air conditioning energy loss in Floirda. According to the U.S. Department of Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute, 25% to 40% of the heating and cooling energy put out by heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems is lost through the ductwork system (Please see our article on Air Conditioning Systems for more information).
- Initial cost to professionally seal and insulate all ductwork: Approx. $1,350
- Annual Savings: Approx. $250
- Payback Time: 5.4 years
Professionally Installing Insulation
This is a major area to address in making your home as Green and as energy efficient as possible. Using expanding foam in the block walls and spray foam in the ceilings (we use Icynene, Demelac or Bayer products) will significantly decrease energy loss and increase energy-savings. (Please see our article on Home Insulation for more information).
- Initial cost to professionally install insulation: Approx. $2,000 $5,000
- Annual Savings: Approx. $350
- Payback Time: 5.7 - 14.2 years
Installing Storm Windows
This is probably the most important area to address in making your home as Green and as energy efficient as possible. According to the Department of Energy, your windows can be the largest source of heat loss within your home and installing storm windows can reduce heat loss through your windows by approx. 30% to 40%. Installing Low-E storm windows can save you even more energy. Low-E storm windows have microscopically thin coatings applied to the window glass that helps keep heat inside during the winter and outside during the summer. The numbers here are calculated for an average home with 25 windows at a cost of approx. $100-$200 per window (Please see our article on Storm Windows for more information).
- Initial cost: Approx. $2,500 - $4,700
- Annual Savings: Approx. $690
- Payback Time: 4 - 7 years
Tankless Water Heater
This is another big improvement in appliance technology that can bring you big dividends. Although a little expensive initially, you can see the payoff. Numbers are calculated for a family of four using a gas Bosch AquaStar 7.2-gpm tankless heater supplying two or three major applications (shower, dishwasher, kitchen sink).
- Initial cost: Approx. $1,489
- Annual Savings: Approx. $175
- Payback Time: 8.5 years
A surprisingly big money saver and a big improvement in technology. These numbers are based on a family of four using a Kohler WaterSense toilet.
- Initial cost: Approx. $299
- Annual Savings: Approx. $90
- Payback Time: 3.3 years
Some of the biggest advances in energy efficient appliances have come with more energy efficient refrigerators. As we mention in our Energy Efficient Appliances Page, a refrigerator built today is 75% more efficient than one built in 1970, and 40% more efficient than one built just ten years ago. These estimates are based on a GE Energy Star® 18.2-cubic-foot refrigerator-freezer, vs a 1990 refrigerator-freezer.
- Initial cost: Approx. $729
- Annual Savings: Approx. $90
- Payback Time: 8.1 years
Once again, we will be here to help you and are glad to thoroughly discuss with you all of your options when it comes to building a greener Florida home, as well as recommend the best appliances and air conditioning and heating systems to install to get the most out of your building dollars.
Sources: Preservation Magazine, a publication of the National Trust for Historic Preservation; TerraLogos Energy Group, a Baltimore-based company recognized by Energy Star; WaterSense, a program of the Environmental Protection Agency; Energy Star.