s concerns about energy efficiency and “being green” grow, more and more home builders are turning to new materials and new technology to help consumers save energy and cut their home utility bills.
One program that began in 1992 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is the Energy Star Program which is a voluntary program that helps save money through more energy efficient appliances and electronics.
“We do energy star appliances in our kitchens, which means savings,” said Kris Tortorice, a Realtor with Malt Realty for six years, about the homes built at Forest Lakes Garden Homes.
In addition to Energy Star appliances installed as standard in most new homes today, those at Forest Lakes Garden Homes are built with radiant barrier sheathing under the roofing with keeps the attics about 30 degrees cooler in the summer than one built without the barrier, Tortorice said.
Because the radiant barrier blocks heat from entering the home during warm months, and keeps heat from escaping during cold months, less energy is needed for heating and cooling, which results in reduced carbon emissions and a healthier environment.
Along with the radiant barrier, the homes are built with more insulation than
required by building codes, Tortorice said.
“We use more insulation than what the code requires and we also insulate the interior walls for sound proofing,” she said.
Tortorice said homes built at Forest Lakes also include a moisture barrier under the bricks, stone and stucco to keep moisture from penetrating the walls of the home.
“It’s a barrier we put around the house when it’s built. It has a huge warranty on it and it’s really good,” she said.
Along with high efficiency heating and air conditioning units, the homes also include tankless water heaters, which can reduce energy consumption by up to 40 percent by heating water only on demand and avoiding standby loss. Since the water heater only heats water when it’s needed, for as long as it’s needed, it shuts off when there is no longer a need.
“They are really energy efficient. They don’t hold any water, but they don’t provide instant hot water. However, it is endless. So when you turn it on and purge the lines to get the cold water out, when the hot water gets there you could run it all day and never lose hot water,” Tortorice said.
A recirculating function is available as an upgrade to the water heater so instant hot water is available, Tortorice said.
“Today, everyone is going green,” said Kathy Bonner, also a Realtor with Malt Realty.
“When you can save on energy costs, that is what everyone is going to and it makes good sense to do that. We don’t compromise on quality of construction. Upgrades are available, but there is no compromise on the quality of construction,” she said.
Bonner and Tortorice said installing “green” features adds a little to the cost of a new home, but those costs can be recouped in just a few years, and they make a home more attractive to future buyers.
Kathy Bonner and Kris Tortorice