September 12, 2011
New Ways to Use Less Energy at Home
Concrete countertops? Blown fiberglass insulation? The payback may be quicker than you think.
By JIM CARLTON
For new-home buyers, green is the color of money.
The share of homes being built in the U.S. with environmentally friendly features jumped to 16% of single-family starts last year from 2% in 2006, says McGraw-Hill Construction, a market-research firm in New York. Fueling the trend, industry officials say, is a desire to save energy at a time of high fuel costs. Indeed, in a recent survey, 93% of builders named increased energy efficiency as an important green practiceâ€”far more than cited any other benefit.
"People understand energy efficiency because it's easy to measure," says Michele Russo, director of green content at McGraw-Hill, a unit of McGraw-Hill Cos. "They get that bill all the time."
Green homes generally cost anywhere from 2% to 10% more than a typical home, depending on the features included, though the difference is shrinking. About 4%, or $14,000, of the cost of a $398,000 home purchased last year by Keith and Rebecca Sorensen was for green features, including a solar water heater and added insulation, says Michael Chandler, who built the three-bedroom residence in Chapel Hill, N.C. But the couple says their energy bill has been cut by two-thirds from their previous home. The roughly $200 a month in savings means the Sorensens' green premium will be paid off in about six years.
Ecohome Features Chandler Design-Build
A North Carolina home reads like a playbook for optimized building science techniques with the certifications to prove it.
View the article
EcoHome checks in with Michael Chandler, president of Chandler Design-Build, a Chapel Hill, N.C.-based custom building company.
Green builder: Sustainable is wave of the future