There is nothing more picturesque than a living room lit by a crackling fire. What can feel cozier than curling up with cocoa in front of a warm fireplace? Fireplaces are not only a way to heat your home, but also a way to bring family and friends together.
However, their maintenance can become cumbersome over time. Fireplace pros and cons will vary depending on which kind of fireplace you decide to purchase, but that flexibility in itself is a benefit.
Today, you have the luxury of choosing from a wood, gas, pellet, or electric fireplace. Each type functions differently, and must be maintained as differently. They all come with their own expenses so you have a range of options to find which best suits your needs.
Wood stoves carry an aesthetic appeal and come in beautiful forms. They have the traditional appeal of cuddling with loved ones and roasting marshmallows. Wood is plentiful, and relatively inexpensive. In addition, if you chop wood yourself it provides exercise as well as an added sense of accomplishment. It is a renewable source and the most environmentally friendly type of fireplace.
Gas fireplaces are simpler all around. They are easier to install, easier to get started -a simple flip of a switch- and very easy to clean. They allow you to decide the heat output and the size of the fire. They also do not require as much supervision to keep alive, however, it is still important to keep an eye on an active fire
Fireplaces using pellets are another option for people seeking an environmentally friendly method. Pellet stoves burn cleanly, and pellets are a readily available resource. They can also be stored for extended periods of time and don’t take up a lot of space.
Lastly are electric fireplaces. These are typically small and do not require installation as they are portable and meant to be easily moved. They are most convenient for small apartments or as an additional appliance to help warm a small space.
Wood fireplaces require a lot of maintenance. Otherwise, they could prove to be a serious danger. Without regular chimney cleaning, they will result in a lot of smoke and undesirable odor. The heat cannot be controlled without regular monitoring, and is not uniform across a large space.
When a wood stove is the sole source of heat, this is why there are usually multiple wood stoves within a larger house. If there is another heating system in place, a single wood stove or fireplace can be a fantastic addition to a living room or great room.
Gas fireplaces are not very green due to the use of fossil fuel. This can also produce an unpleasant smell. In power outages, they may be rendered unusable.
Pellet fireplaces are similar to wood fireplaces in that they require a lot of maintenance. If you do not keep careful watch over these types of fireplaces, they could become a great risk to both your home and your family. Pellets also tend to be more expensive. This is exceptionally true if you live in an urban area.
Finally, electric fireplaces tend to be the most expensive as they increase your electric bill. Not only that, but they are the least efficient as they produce the least amount of heat. Unfortunately, you will likely only be able to warm up your immediate vicinity because of their low overall output.
With this information in hand, you’ll be able to choose the best fireplace option for your custom home. If you’re still unsure, give the team at Custom Home Group a call!
The nights are getting longer, the days are getting colder, and winter will soon be upon us. That means we will be spending more time inside. Make sure that you have an efficient heating system!
In this day and age, we have the luxury of choosing from many different types of heating – like gas, wood, geothermal, or electric. Here are various ways that you can keep your home warm and cozy:
Natural gas is a common, and popular, form of heating homes. There are several different kinds of heating systems to choose from. For instance, forced air systems, radiant water-based or hydronic heating systems, space heaters, and more.
The typical method would be the first–forced air systems. These come in the form of furnaces that use natural gas to heat the surrounding air. Cool air enters the system, is warmed up, and then circulated throughout the home.
With this method, you could choose equipment such as a furnace, a boiler, a wood stove or a fireplace. Wood stoves cost less and have fewer emissions, but they do not cover as much expanse as a furnace or boiler might. Boilers and furnaces are tucked away, and give you more bang for your buck.
Geothermal heating uses the heat of the earth’s crust to produce the energy needed to heat your homes. Systems absorb the heat stored in the ground by collecting water that circulates underground, concentrates it, then releases it into your home as air. It’s environmentally friendly, has plentiful potential, and can be built underground.
As you can imagine, however, this is one of the pricier means of heating your home. There is a considerable amount of work that needs to go into building the system itself, and the system requires proper maintenance. Although initial setup tends to be more expensive than other methods, geothermal heating does provide savings over time.
Electric energy functions similarly to gas heating in the equipment that is used (namely furnaces and boilers) but derives its energy from a different source. Electric is the alternative for locations with less natural gas available.
Electric is safe, and does not produce a lot of byproducts in the process. Electric is also generally quieter. On the flipside, electric tends to be more expensive, and can have difficulty functioning if the temperature drops too low.
Each heating system has its pros and cons. With this basic guide, you’ll be able to decide which system is best for your custom home. If you’re planning out your custom home and you’re still not sure which system will be the best fit for you, contact Custom Home Group! Our team and integrated design/build process will ensure you get exactly what you want.
No matter how much you like the cold, at the end of the day, everyone likes to return to a warm and cozy home. There are several options for keeping your home properly heated, from traditional fireplaces to smart-home baseboards.
One advanced technique, in particular, is underfloor, or radiant, heating. A nice bonus of this system is that you can install it solely in certain rooms, either for purposes of design or to switch entirely to this system in increments. One room we definitely suggest it for is the bathroom.
More Comfortable for Bare Feet
One of the reasons this system is particularly effective in the bathroom is the location itself. The bathroom is the one room where most people walk barefoot. Having the heat begin from the ground and rise up keeps us from having to walk on cold floors. In general, your bathroom will become a much more comfortable space. Especially with the extra room from keeping all the inner workings underground.
Reduces Allergens and Dust in the Air
Systems that require ventilation have the drawback of whipping up a lot of particles.These can be hazardous to anyone with a breathing condition. In a bathroom, it also contributes to making you dirty after you just got clean.
Radiant Heating is Efficient
Initial installation may be a bit expensive, but in time it will pay for itself. Radiant heating saves money due to its effectiveness. Other systems require more time and energy than underfloor heating to warm up a room. When the heat rises from the ground up, it is distributed evenly throughout the entire room—the more quickly this happens, the less you expend on electric bills.
There is a lot to be gained by heating your bathroom floors! The greatest thing, of course, is making your washroom a place of relaxation and cleanliness. There are two prominent radiant heating systems to pick from: electric and water based. Both have their pros and cons, but doubtless, you’ll pick the perfect one to make your bathroom feel like a spa.
Colder months are coming and with them the annual heating system check. On top of that, it’s important to make sure your home properly retains heat and keeps out the cold. Insulation is just as important, if not more so, than heating systems to maintain a comfortable home.
Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation
Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation, more commonly known as just Spray Insulation, is a very common insulation method. It functions by mixing chemicals that create foam upon spraying.The foam expands, and then solidifies, forming a seal wherever it is sprayed. Spray foam is used often – particularly in basements and attics.
Unfortunately, despite its simplicity, there are several drawbacks to this form of insulation. It can form too tight a seal, which keeps the home from being able to breathe. The foam itself carries a very faint odor, which in combination will make the air in your home heavy and stale. It’s also more expensive than you would expect. Cheaper kits are available, but you would need a lot to cover your entire home. Not including the price of professional installation.
One insulation alternative is stretch tape. Much like the name suggests, stretch tape is a tape made of acrylic. It can span across large areas, and seal cracks with ease. It can be used against flat surfaces, curves, corners, and sills without difficulty. Even better, you can peel it off and reuse it later! It’s more effective and aesthetically looks much better than blobs of foam around your home will.
Integral OSB Sheathing
Sheathing is another method in which all exterior walls are covered with a sheet to keep the home properly insulated. They work by placing an insulated foam between two structural faces to create a strong and lasting insulation. This sheet can vary from company to company. At Custom Home Group, we use R Sheeting from ZIP System.
There are many options to choose from when deciding on insulation for your home. If you’re not sure which one is the best fit for you, just ask your builder! If you don’t have a builder yet and are still planning out your custom home, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help!
The Fall season is coming upon us, and that means the cold is just around the corner! This is a good time to consider how well your heating system is serving you. There are a number of different systems to choose from, a particularly popular one being radiant heating.
Radiant heating, also known as underfloor heating, either uses an electric or hydronic (liquid-based) system to function. There are a number of advantages to using this kind of heating source over others. Here are just a few examples:
According to the US Department of Energy Savers, radiant heating is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced air heating because no energy is lost through ducts. Part of the reason is because floor heating distributes warmth much more evenly. Instead of having to wait for the heat to travel through each individual room, it starts from the bottom up. Ultimately, the need to keep it running is reduced.
Underfloor heating can run with gas, oil, wood, or solar sources. Not only that, but these sources can be combined for the most cost-efficient system. If you run out or want to try something else, the option is at your disposal. Also, there are different forms of floor heating, like heat-inducing mats, that are very simple to install and very cost efficient.
Allergy-sufferers rejoice! Unlike forced-air ventilation systems, you don’t have to worry about irritants being blown around the room.
Radiant heating is just one of the many different systems to consider. Remember, what works for one home may not be the best for another.
Energy efficiency is a big concern for homeowners. When energy use spikes in the summer and winter, efficiency is key to keeping your utility bill under control. Inefficiencies can cause that monthly energy bill to skyrocket.
When working with a custom home builder on new construction, it’s likely to be built with energy efficiency in mind. However, that efficiency will decrease over time, unless you make updates.
It’s easy to identify areas to improve efficiency within your home, but homeowners often tend to forget about the garage. Garages are an addition to your home, but they can suck a lot of energy from it. Inefficiencies here can mean a loss of heat in the winter and a buildup of heat in the summer. This forces your heating and cooling system to work harder and consume more energy.
Here are a few tips for a more energy efficient garage:
Switch to Energy Efficient Options
Check your lights and windows. Are you using energy efficient options? If not, it may be time to replace your light bulbs with CFL or LED lights. Older windows tend to be less efficient. They don’t insulate as well and often are the culprit of air leaks. Replace them with Energy Star® certified windows. You can also invest in renewable energy sources, like solar heating, to help balance your energy use.
Check Your Insulation
Insulation makes a big difference in how well your garage is protected from the elements. Inefficiencies and air leaks can be caused by poor insulation around your garage door, in the garage walls, and even through outlets and light switches! An insulation kit may help in some of these areas. However, depending on the age and condition of the area, it may be time to replace with something new.
Seal the Leaks
Better insulation or a new garage door can help “seal” air leaks. For some areas, insulation isn’t the answer. For example, if there are cracks in your garage floor, you’ll need a concrete sealant to fix those. It’s also important to check the door connecting your home to your garage and ensure it is properly sealed to protect from leaks or drafts.
If you’re looking to buy a newly-constructed home this year, you’ll be pleased to see how 2017 design trends make your life easier. From a focus on efficiency to save you energy and money to clean designs that improve the flow of the space – these trends emphasize giving you exactly what you want, and nothing that you don’t.
Perhaps the strongest guiding hand leading construction currently is the push for efficiency. A popular thought is that every bit of the home should help cut costs once construction is complete.
Energy efficiency is a primary target. The focus is on systems, equipment, and fixtures that decrease energy consumption and wasted water – without compromising comfort. Efficiency also translates to the size of the home. Trends shifted away from larger, grand houses to comfortable homes with a great deal of flexibility, but not an ounce of wasted space.
This change may reflect an interest in attracting a new kind of buyer – Millennials. This particular group expresses a strong preference for energy efficiency, but may not have a lot of spare funds to invest in extravagant upgrades.
Trends in home building also speak to trends shaping the construction industry itself. With a current labor shortage, builders are looking for ways to make every aspect of home building more streamlined. The focus is on cutting down, not only on waste but also processes that waste time and labor.
It leads to an increase in the use of prefabricated products. These can be created in larger quantities with a lower amount of labor- particularly in HVAC equipment. Sustainability also extends to the development and use of green building technologies. For instance, finding effective replacements for carbon-emitting products like cement.
3. Clean, Simple Designs
If efficiency is the overall goal of many new homes, then efficiency in design also stands prominent among buyers’ preferences. Fading away are the tiny, separate rooms and long hallways. Enter the continued dominance of the open floor plan, with lots of space to move around.
However, most buyers are hoping to get usable space out of every inch of the home. This means that rooms should not be restricted to a specific purpose, but rather be versatile enough that households can shift and redesign as necessary. It also indicates a decrease in buyers’ preferences for perceived “unnecessary” extras, like turrets.
4. Glass and Metal
Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that buyers can only select a really straightforward, modernist design without special features. There are plenty of options available for buyers who want to push the envelope here and there. For example, trends for 2017 show an increase in requests for larger windows, providing ample natural lighting around the home.
This path toward more contemporary designs also brings in all kinds of metal. You can choose from a variety of metal accents throughout the home, particularly in the kitchen and bathrooms.
Waking up every morning in a home built to increase your enjoyment and productivity is a pleasure. With these design trends for new construction, you can create a modern, enjoyable home with lasting appeal should you decide to sell several years in the future.
Going green is becoming more and more common. It refers to leading a more environmentally friendly, and ecologically responsible, life. It’s often accomplished by protecting natural resources, spreading awareness, and buying locally. Going green counters the rising carbon emissions and maintains the land so that we can become a more sustainable country.
Here are some tips and suggestions for green design
Light Bulbs & Energy
Replace any regular light bulbs with CFL light bulbs. These consume less energy and are worth the slightly extra price.
If you have the space, and money, consider alternative energy sources like solar, geothermal, or wind power.
Programmable thermostats can be pricey, but if you can afford them they save you money in the long run. These thermostats can be set to monitor and adjust your heating and cooling while you are out of the house. They will make sure that your ventilation system does not go on for longer than necessary, and in doing so reduce your heating and cooling bills as well as reduce energy usage overall.
One of the primary ways you can help have a green design is by changing your lifestyle. Being more conscientious about how much energy you use, and how necessary it is, goes a long way. Turn off lights when you’re not using them, and put any other energy users to rest as well.
Recycle, recycle, recycle. You receive as much as you give when you recycle your materials. It doesn’t need to be solely in properly disposing materials, but also in making use of old ones, and turning them into something new.
Consider what is called a “living roof”. If you have a flat roof, turn it into a garden. Not only will this look beautiful, but it will catch and filter rainwater to insulate your home better, and prevent rainwater from dribbling into the sewer system.
Water consumption is becoming an increasingly worrisome subject in American life. Think about the appliances in your home and how much water they use. Try to replace some with appliances that minimize water usage as much as possible. Consider how much water you use in your day-to-day life, and whether it is necessary.
New technology is being created every day to help sustain our environment. Keep on the lookout for any new ideas and advances to help make your home greener!
How many times have you been tempted by the cute or clever home decor items that you see lining the shelves of your favorite craft store? There’s always that little debate that we could just as easily make these signs at home, so we end up putting the signs down and walking away.
With that being said, why not step up to the plate? A little paint and sandpaper can transform some old wood into something truly unique and beautiful. So, if you’re looking for some clever tricks to making the perfect “Home Sweet Home” sign, take a look at what we’ve discovered:
Picking the Right Display
Knowing how you want your sign to be displayed is the first step in deciding how you want to go about making it. If you’re making a sign for outside your home, you might want to consider doing a signpost style sign. Not only are these fairly straightforward to make, but you can also have fun playing with different styles and even different directions for the sign.
Another one of our favorite styles is the tiered hanging sign. This consists of separate planks which are connected to the one above it. Not only are these easy to make, but you can make some really interesting designs. Our favorite is the “IN” “OUT” and “Gone FISHING”, which is perfect if you’re an avid fisher or really just don’t want to be pestered by door-to-door solicitors.
Once you’ve figured out what style of sign you want to make, and have chosen your favorite phrase or slogan, it’s time to choose your materials. Here you have a few options. You can go out and buy some fresh planks from your local hardware store. However, if you want to do a bit of environmental goodness or just save some money, you might want to consider upcycling.
Wooden pallets are a great place to start as they offer some good pieces of wood that are the right shape and size. With a little sanding, you can have them feeling smooth and looking good. Not only are pallets incredibly cheap (in a lot of cases you can get them for free), but recycling them gives them a better purpose than just being used for firewood.
Adding the Finishing Touches
Your sign is assembled and you have your clever phrase painted, now what? Part of the charm that the pre-made signs have is their rustic, almost antique look. This is part of the reason why people end up buying them. However, you get the same effect by taking a light grit sandpaper and gently sanding around the edges. Just be careful not to go too hard otherwise you might make your sign unreadable. The good news is, if that happens you can just repaint the sign and try again once it dries.
However, you get the same effect by taking a light grit sandpaper and gently sanding around the edges. Just be careful not to go too hard otherwise you might make your sign unreadable. The good news is, if that happens, you can just repaint the sign and try again once it dries.
If your sign is going to live outdoors, make sure you treat it with a sealant to keep it from growing mildew or any other unpleasantness. Voila! Your very own sign that not only costs less than the ones in the store but also rewards you with the experience of getting to do it yourself!
Finding a door can be daunting when you are not sure what you want. There is a lot of aspects you will want to consider. Many aspects such as look, durability, and price are very important features but energy efficiency should be another thing to consider.
While glass can be beautiful it is not very energy efficient. It is difficult to create an energy efficient glass door without gaps and holes that will allow air to pass through or around. While you can have molding around the glass it can still be porous. If your heart is set on a glass door be sure to find one that is well made and manufactured by a company you trust.
Wood is a beautiful, timeless look that can be sturdy and incredibly durable. They do need to be properly finished and cared for to withstand harsh weather conditions and wear and tear over time. Wood can also be heavy and expensive. If you are not a fan of large bulky doors you will need to reconsider the door you would like. Wood is somewhat energy efficient in that it is a natural material and is bulky enough to keep some heat or cold out of your home. There are other door options, however, that are more energy efficient.
Steel is a sturdy, weather resistant door that can be beautiful and well made. Steel doors, however, can be somewhat expensive. If you want a steel door be sure to shop around online and indoors so you make an educated and knowledgeable decision.
A bamboo door is a wonderful substitute for wood doors because they are lightweight and have a faster regrow weight in the wild. Refinished bamboo doors can be well made, simple, inexpensive, and are wonderful for keeping air from passing through or around it. While bamboo is not the most energy efficient door at the moment it is definitely improving with time.
Fiberglass is a durable, lightweight, inexpensive and may be the most energy efficient. Fiberglass is made of several layers of fiberglass thread and then coated with resin. This makes it not only lightweight but weather resistant. Because it is coated and fused together there is less possibility that mold or corrosion will occur. Since fiberglass is thread and resin it is not a porous material. By being nonporous the door will not let air flow through or around itself. This is perfect for hot or cold weather or incredibly humid areas.
Hopefully this will help you decide which door material is the perfect material for your home.
In honor of severe weather preparedness week we thought we would give you a few tips and ideas so you can stay safe and sane during the harsher days of spring. It may seem unbelievable but spring often has surprise snowstorms, intense thunderstorms, and all around whacky weather. To stay safe and prepared there are a few things you can do quickly and easily.
Make a Kit
Having a kit in your home, car, and work will help you be safe if severe weather hits and you can feel a bit more at ease no matter where you are. Here are a few ideas for your kit:
Two gallons of water
Food (preferably protein packed and nonperishable)
Swiss Army Knife
First Aid Kit(s)
Yoga mat (affordable mattress pad if you need to sleep on the floor)
Large hiking backpack (incase you need to leave)
Hand-powered radio (so you can stay alert about what is going on around you)
Your kit’s size should depend on your family size and how much space you have. If you live in a small apartment or you want to keep it in your car it should all fit or be attached to a large backpack.
If you have a black out you will want to unplug all major appliances so when power returns it will not fry the electronics or create a surge. If you have children be sure to avoid candles if possible. Safety is key in a black out so having fire hazards may not be the best idea. If possible use rechargeable flashlights and solar or man powered lighting. Some regions are more susceptible to black outs. In more rural areas there is a higher chance of losing power and if you live far away from the grid you may not have power return for quite some time. If this is the case you may want to consider investing in a generator so you can still have indoor plumbing and essential electricity. If you purchase a generator be sure to run it outside or in a well-ventilated area. Otherwise your home could fill with carbon monoxide.
Have plenty of board games, books, and puzzles on hand to keep you and your family entertained until the power returns. You do not always know when power will return and having a few things to keep children or yourself preoccupied can help you avoid stress and bordem.
As home design evolves and changes wider doors, windows, and more space in the home makes the home look more inviting and can make those in the home much more comfortable. By creating space in entryways and windows you can also give more space to the home and make it easier to decorate maneuver in the home. When designing a home making sure that it functions well for your family is paramount. Be sure when making entryways wider you can help anyone feel invited and welcomed to your home.
Accessibility for All
Part of the reason wider doors are becoming more popular because it is easier for those in wheelchairs to maneuver in and out of their homes with wider doorways. It also makes it easier for their family members or caretakers so they no longer need to first bring the person into the home and then their wheelchair.
Elegant and Inviting
Wider doors appear more inviting and can make the home seem more spacious and expansive even if that is not the case. Some of the best things to do with wider doors is to paint them a bold color to make them pop in contrast to the rest of the house. I will also help draw the eye to the entryway and help guest who are coming to your home know exactly where to go. Make sure the door does flow well with the rest of your home. This way if you have a small, cozy home you won’t have a large, baroque door clashing.
If you decide to install a larger door be sure to invest in a sturdy mold around the doorway and durable door hitches so it will not lean or bend with time.
If you live in an area with extreme weather a wider, tougher door can help keep heat in and the weather out of your home. Thicker, sturdier doors will help you keep your home’s temperature regulated. With a thicker doorway, when it is closed the door will not allow cool or warm air out of your home as easily as a thinner or glass door.
If you think a wider door is a good idea for your home be sure to research the process well and decide on what contractor you will want to hire if you need to widen the doorway. While it may seem rather elementary, widening a doorway takes thought, time, and patience. Be sure you have plenty of each even if you are not the one installing it.
Many homeowners make the decision between a deck or patio based on their own needs, preferences, and space. Depending on these aspects you will know which option is best for you. Both landscaping possibilities are beneficial but they do differ. By reading over the benefits and limits you can see what is best for your home and family.
A patio is a ground level or slightly elevated stone floor that is angled away from the house to move rainwater away from the home. Patios offer virtually little to no maintenance other than sweeping sand into the creases between the stones. Patios offer plenty of opportunity for decoration or entertaining. It is simple to add or take away pieces like fire pits, grills and even small water feature that you and your family can enjoy.
Depending on the size and renovations made you may need to contact the county for permission or obtain a permit. With time the sand may degrade and you will need to annually weed the crevices between the stones. If you want to avoid this using natural remedies you can plant ground cover or moss and it will add color and texture to your patio.
Decks are wonderful additions to a home without a lot of room for renovations and do not need permits or permission from the town. They can be raised for second story decks, which are great for those who want to put a patio underneath or have their living space above ground level. Decks also allow water to pass through the slotted wood so they do not become saturated or moldy. Decks also do not become as hot or cold, depending on the season, as patios that absorb heat and cool temperatures quickly.
Decks do, however, often cost more than a patio and require more maintenance. They also need a retaining wall and must be built well to avoid water leeching into your basement. A way to avoid maintenance and water leakage you can have it done professionally but may cost you more.
Building a deck or patio in your yard can be a wonderful addition to your property and can help you create the perfect outdoor living or entertaining space for your family. Be sure to research possible installation companies and DIY options so you know exactly what you want. And don’t forget the tiki torches!
What would you say to a HVAC system that doesn’t take up space in your home, will keep your home comfortable all year round, uses very little electricity and has been around for over sixty years? Most people wouldn’t be able to name such a system. Even fewer would think something like this exists. Yet many custom home owners are enjoying this unique feature called geothermal HVAC.
What Is Geothermal HVAC?
Geothermal HVAC uses the steady ground temperature to heat your home during the winter, cool your home during the summer, and provide hot water for daily uses. While outdoor weather temperatures fluctuate constantly, underground temperatures will stay a normal temperature from 45-degrees Fahrenheit to 75-degrees Fahrenheit depending on your latitude.
Geothermal HVAC systems consist of a heat pump and a loop system (closed-loop or open loop). The heat pump and adjoining ductwork become placed inside your home while the loop system is filled with water or an antifreeze solution and buried underground. Some geothermal systems can also be placed in water such as a pond or lake, or where there is a natural aquifer.
How Does The Geothermal HVAC System Work?
When you want to cool your home during the summer, the geothermal HVAC system draws the heat out of the rooms. It will disperse the heat into the ground or use the hot air to heat the water in your hot water tank (based on the system you have).
When you want to heat your home during the winter, the underground loops absorb heat from the ground into the water or antifreeze mixture. Then the indoor heat pump compresses the heat to an even higher temperature to disperse it through ductwork in your home.
Custom Homes Taking Advantage Of Geothermal HVAC Systems
When installed correctly by a qualified contractor and HVAC installer, these geothermal heating and cooling systems can last a lifetime. The HVAC system uses very little electricity to operate the heat pump, runs quietly, requires little maintenance and emits no greenhouse gases.
For people interested in building a new home and have the sufficient amount of land, getting a geothermal HVAC system should be considered. You will be making a cost-effective choice while enjoy a more controlled air temperature inside your home no matter what the temperature is outside.
It can be difficult to consistently provide a good level of temperature control in a house that is truly large and spacious, whether it is a matter of keeping that house cool or warm. This can be especially true when that house is in a climate that is either very cold or very hot, as there are more opportunities for “osmosis” to occur between the interior and exterior of the house while requiring more energy to fight that evening out of temperature due to the intensity of the climate and the size of the house. Even with a “forced-air” HVAC system, a large house will often require several heating and cooling units, each of which require quite a bit of ductwork while still only offering scant climate control while also providing a hefty energy bill every year.
A New Way to Think About Climate Control
There are alternatives, however, and as time has gone on, more and more builders have opted for them in an effort to reduce costs and increase efficiency as well as the effectiveness of climate control methods. One of those alternatives is radiant floor heating, which reduce the amount of heat lost in providing heat to the house, does not require any ductwork, and is considerably more quiet than systems which must move air around (which inherently increases the circulation of allergens and bacteria, another point in radiant heating’s column!).
Imagine a Truly Comfortable Home
So, how does radiant floor heating work? Basically, chilld and warm water is “radiated” throughout your home by means of panels mounted on your ceiling. Plates for tubing and heat transfer are installed in prefabricated gypsum panels, allowing for simple installation – in fact, the panel is also drywall, which means that if you are making this part of your home’s construction, you’ve also already installed drywall in that room! While panels must be consistently maintained and the house must remain dehumidified, the system is very accurate and effective. At an affordable price per square foot, it isn’t hard to imagine this system in your own home!
For both new and old homes, roofing is always a necessary and sometimes expensive investment. Many do not want to put thought or money into such an endeavor but by doing so they increase the value of their home and with some techniques can decrease their spending on utilities, food, roofing materials, or other expenses. Before you decide how to reroof your home or to place one on your new home consider several different options that will be best for you and your family. Ask plenty of questions when discussing possibilities with roofers and contractors. They will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have and work with you to make your new or existing home perfect.
Many know about green roofs from their rebirth in large cities like New York but are unaware of smaller possibilities. Originally, green roofs were used in small homes in Europe and even in the U.S. before settlers arrived. It was a great way to safely shelter your family and add more gardening opportunities to your property. Some in the Midwest and in rural parts of the East Coast still use this roofing technique because it helps their family grow sustainable, healthy food and it is wonderful for the environment.
If you believe this is the best option for you talk to a roofer who has experience building green roofs and possibly a landscaper. By having both working with you, you will be able to design a beautiful and useful green roof that will help cut your grocery bill and possibly some utilities bills in half. The only concern is that some people may ask if you’re from The Shire.
These shingles are made from waste products either from homes or manufacturers. They look exactly like traditional shingles and can cost much less. These shingles also help keep waste out of the landfills throughout the country.
If you are considering recycled shingles be sure to work with a roofer who has experience with the material and can help you navigate the processes. While it will not be much different than regular shingles, there still may be some questions you have or aspects your roofer will want you to know about.
While these are a large investment at first hybrid shingles can help you save in the long run on electricity because they are actually small solar panels. These durable shingles look and act like traditional shingles but can pull energy from the sun to heat, cool, and light your house anytime of the year. If you decide hybrid shingles are perfect for you be sure to research your possible roofer well before hiring. That way you will know how much experience they have and the testimonials of several previous customers.
More and more, homeowners are becoming aware of the impact they have on the environment. Just by building a house, you are changing your home’s immediate environment, increasing your carbon footprint, and generally having an effect that is not necessarily positive. At the same time, your house is your house, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about that; instead, homeowners are finding ways to move their home towards being a net positive for the environment while also saving money and improving efficiency. It’s a win-win, and no where is that seen more than with solar power. The idea of harnessing the power of the sun has been with us a long time, but it used to be too expensive and complicated for the average homeowner to do – but no longer! Here are three tips for going solar with your home:
Get Out of the Shade
Solar power comes from…? You got it – the sun! Direct rays of sunshine on your solar panels allow for you to get the maximum amount of electricity out of your solar panel system, yet there are many, many things that can get between your home and the sun, like your landscaping choices. Tall trees can cast shade onto your house making it difficult for you to maximize your solar power potential. Consider having your trees cut down and chunked into firewood – another great way to sae energy I the future, by the way.
It isn’t just homeowners who are excited about solar power – the government is as well! Federal, state, and local governments offer tax credits and subsidies to homeowners who invest in solar power and other green, renewable energy systems. Depending on how much you owe in terms of taxes, you can actually get quite a large tax credit to your name – and you can even have that credit carried over to the following year! This is the sort of thing that needs to be acted on ASAP, however!
Invest In Your Future – Or Not
Something to keep in mind is just how much time you’re planning to spend in your house. As in, will you still be there in 20 years? If so, then solar panels make perfect sense; they are guaranteed to last for quite some time, but that guarantee is also part of what you are paying for. If you, however, intend to be out of that house in 5-10 years, you’re paying for something that you will not get to enjoy the full value of. That doesn’t make much sense for you, does it?
As you can see, there is quite a bit to consider when integrating solar panels into your home and your life – but never forget why you had the idea in the first place! In the end, making a positive impact on the environment and being a community leader in this regard can be worth all the trouble!
One factor that many prospective homebuyers should be taking into consideration is the actual cost of living in that home. Yes, when you’re planning to live somewhere for the next ten, twenty, or thirty years, that can seem small compared to the costs of living, furnishing, etc. – long enough, anyway, to not really give all the ways in which you could be saving much thought. The end result, however, is that when it comes time for you to sell your house and move on to another area for one reason or another, you may find yourself getting much less than you feel you “put into” the home over the years. Buying a resale house yourself is a good way to make this mistake; instead, consider buying new to increase savings in both an immediate and long-term sense.
What You Get in a New Home and a Resale Home
First, let’s consider that new homes have the most state-of-the-art technologies and building techniques behind them. This means that if it is something that could save you money, then it is something that could be incorporated into the home’s design, such as in the case of creating a “green,” or otherwise energy efficient, building. While older homes use traditional systems that consume large amounts of energy, primarily without giving you much in return, newer homes can come with energy certifications for walls, roofs, windows, doors, and even your appliance packages. This indicates the energy efficiency you can expect, which in turn leads to considerable savings over the years.
Give Yourself a Chance
The fact is, a resale house is old – and many of its best qualities may also be on the way out, if for no other reason than because of wear-and-tear. Over time, many different parts of a house need to be replaced, but in a new custom house, this won’t be the case for decades to come, whereas with a resale house, you may very well find yourself replacing expensive parts of the building very soon after buying and moving into the home. Your heating and air conditioning can cost up to $10,000 to replace, while flooring can run you well over $15,000 to replace. Your roofing, exterior and interior paint, and both kitchen and bathroom remodeling can all end up racking up over $100,000 in costs.
It is difficult to see these costs when considering a resale home, but you must assume that they will be there within the first ten to twenty years of your life in that building. The fact is, it is “lived” in, and wear and tear is a natural part of living someplace. Give yourself a chance to enjoy the home as you bought it and save money doing so by going with a custom home!
When building a new house or even just working on the plumbing of that house, it would behoove you to take a look at ManaBloc plumbing and the benefits offered by it. This method of plumbing water lines is a fairly new and incredibly inventive method that is also incredibly easy to install and very reliable as far as leaks are concerned. ManaBloc plumbing essentially works like a central station of plumbing, channeling water throughout your home through plastic tubes rather than metal pipes, all the way to various faucets and other water outputs that require a regular feed of water. Each plumbing fixture in your house receives its own unique, dedicated delivery line, allowing for an energy-efficient plumbing system that will save you quite a bit later on down the line, even while it prevents water waste and gets more bang for your buck than any traditional plumbing system.
It’s All About the Pipes
ManaBloc plumbing systems are the result of PEX tubing, a flexible, plastic tubing that provides faster and more efficient flow for water. It is less expensive to produce and install while being considerably more adaptable to whatever situation you need to use it in. This flexibility allows for PEX tubing to be fit behind walls that traditional tubing might otherwise have trouble fitting behind, while also allowing for less water to pass through for the same results, leading to greater water efficiency – thus saving you, the homeowner, quite a bit of money!
The Beating Heart of ManaBloc
Your typical ManaBloc distribution manifold comes already-put-together, with several water intake ports and plenty of distribution ports, all of which require 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch distribution lines. The ports are event color-coded for their own shut-off valve, providing considerable control over your plumbing system without having to travel around your home attempting to locate and fix one or another leak; instead, you can easily control your water flow from the manifold itself! Between the ease of installation, use, and repair and the considerable cost savings available to those who make use of the ManaBloc system, it’s a wonder more homeowners don’t adopt this incredible new system!
Coming out of a harsh winter, you may be thankful that you can finally enjoy the warm weather, bright sun, and clear skies of spring and summer, but there is always a cost to any change, and that goes for the seasons as well. Oh, how quickly we can forget that summer has the potential to be just as extreme in its temperatures and weather as winter! Yes, in extreme heat people can experience illness and even death, which is why we place such a premium on air conditioning and various ways to cool one’s home. Of course, that’s a process that can become considerably expensive. Thankfully, your options for energy sources are not limited to the traditional, expensive electricity offered locally.
An Economic and Moral Choice
Once an idea reserved for unique situations, geothermal cooling has become a viable alternative for many homeowners seeking a cost-efficient way to cool their homes in the summer. Certainly we know that geothermal heating can be used to keep you warm in the winter – but what about the potential for cooling? Well, as it turns out, there are many advantages to pursuing this form of cooling, ranging from the moral to the economic.
First, consider that geothermal systems use minimal amounts of energy to cool or heat a building, and that the energy removed from the electrical grid is considerably less than even those other, perhaps more widely-known systems, such as solar and wind power. Indeed, those systems share many problems, including the problem of space – while geothermal cooling requires little in the way of above-ground surface space, requiring only a few square feet to be optimally functional.
Cost and Efficiency
As an added bonus for the efficiency of geothermal heating and cooling systems, the government often offers incentives both at the federal and local levels for those homeowners considering moving to geothermal systems. Indeed, depending on your location somewhere between thirty and even sixty percent of the cost of the system can be absorbed by your government. When you combine these incentives – which themselves are in place to decrease the stress put on the electrical grid while also protecting our environment – with the fact of less energy consumption for as long as you use geothermal energy, it isn’t hard to see how cost-effective geothermal systems really are!
Insulation is an important part of any home, as it is impossible to be entirely comfortable in a space that lacks sufficient climate control. Of course, heating and cooling systems go a long way towards ensuring that the temperature in a room is comfortable, or at least livable, for you, but those systems can sometimes turn out to be a massive waste of money if you do not take the proper precautions vis-à-vis preventing the exterior temperature from influencing the interior temperature. Doing so can be rather difficult, especially in those rooms that are less-used and not as well connected to your heating and cooling systems, such as your garage. However, with the aid of garage door insulation, you should be able to maintain the temperature you want in your garage!
The Insulation Difference
The most sure-fire way to insulate your garage is with R17garage doorinsulation. Basically, when it comes to garage door insulation, two materials are used: either polyurethane or polystyrene, two terms you’ve surely heard before. These two materials are very different in what they do and do not accomplish for you, insulation-wise, and knowing the difference will help you to make the best possible choice when it comes to your own home.
First, understand that the “R value” of a door indicates who well the insulation, well, insulates. A higher number following the R indicates a stronger level of insulation. To that end, R17 insulation is ideal if you want maximum insulation.
Polystyrene v. Polyurethane
Polystyrene tends to rate a lower R value, but is waterproof and easy to install in the sections that an overhead garage door would demand. Meanwhile, polyurethane is a denser material, and thus, its R values tend to be higher, reaching towards the heights of R17. If you are planning to actively heat or cool your garage with a heating or cooling system of some kind, it behooves you to use polyurethane, as it will more efficiently contain the temperature you want while keeping exterior temperatures from having a large effect on the interior temperature. Furthermore, polyurethane is great at soundproofing! What more could you ask for?
The greatest wonder of the current age may simply be the high degree of comfort that we live in. Compared to the generations before us, we live in the lap of luxury, with water, food, climate control, safety, high-quality materials and goods, and more all available to us at incredibly affordable prices, and widely so at that. We don’t quite live in a post-scarcity society, but we’re certainly very close to it, all things considered.
In such a society, one’s home is often a reflection of the ease and comfort that one desires, as nothing is really out of reach. Even the smallest inconveniences can be taken care of with technological know-how, which is why the concept of under floor heating is catching on with homeowners across the nation.
Heated floor tiles work by having tiling laid over heating fixtures that essentially warm the tiles above them. Tile is a great material for this, as it absorbs – and releases – heat easier and far safer than other flooring materials. Obviously carpeting would not be terribly safe for this kind of process, through carpeting also has the advantage of being a little warmer and easier on your feet in the morning, as compared to harder – if more aesthetically pleasing – flooring materials.
The Necessity of Luxury
As easy as it is to have under floor heating systems installed into your bathroom and beyond, it is worthwhile to stop and question the necessity of this. Why bother to have your floors heated? Couldn’t you just wear slippers, or even better, just learn to live with having cold floors? Does everything have to be perfectly calibrated for maximum comfort and ease in your home?
Well, the short answer is no, this is not a necessity; like many elements of the modern home, under floor heating is a luxury and a convenience, but one that you will be glad to have once you can make regular use of it, like your refrigerator or air conditioning; you wouldn’t want to go without those, yet they are not, strictly speaking, necessary. Under floor heating is just the same: convenient and useful!
The idea of an insulated curtain can seem just too good to be true. We know that most insulation comes in the form of the fiberglass and foam insulation that is put inside our walls, but which costs a considerable amount of money; when it comes to windows, many windows are insulated by having expensive windows put in that help trap heat in or keep it out, as the case may be. But to just have a mere curtain do that work for you? It seems just too simple! And yet, it’s quite possible; insulated curtains are increasingly quite common among homeowners, and if you want to control your energy bills this winter, they are worth investigating for you too.
Many Ways to Insulate
Insulated curtains work in a number of different ways, depending on the make of the curtain; indeed, there are many ways that a curtain can insulate your home. First, by using a core layer of high-destiny foam that works to insulate your windows from any exchange of heat and sound between the interior and exterior of your home. Second, by using a vapor barrier to block the foam’s absorption of moisture. Third, to provide a layer of reflective film that can then deflect any heat back into your room, and finally, an outer layer of decorative fabric is overlain in order to provide an attractive appearance to your curtains. (Curtains fit for a space shuttle aren’t exactly ideal.)
Maintenance is Easy!
To top it all off, your insulated curtains require very little in the way of maintenance. You’ll want to keep them from having any moisture in the vapor barrier, which can in turn allow mildew to develop, so open them up on occasion to get some fresh air through the insulation. Clean out the curtains themselves with spray, such as spray-on upholstery cleaner, and then use a vacuum to finish the job. If necessary, you can have the dry-cleaned, even, so long as it is non-immersive. Effective, affordable, and easy to care for – it’s hard to find an energy-saving strategy quite like that!
The changing seasons provide us with a wonderful change of pace – new wardrobe, new things to do outside and in, new holidays, new weather, and so on. However, they also require us to adapt, as we have been doing for years, centuries, and millennia. In your particular case, this means looking towards how your home copes with the cold weather or winter, including the rain, snow, winds, and freezing temperatures that accompanies those weather patterns. If you simply blast your heat and expect that to take care of your problem, you’re doomed to pay quite a bit this season in heating and energy bills, and unnecessarily so at that. Instead, why not pursue some more efficient heating methods to save yourself money as well as save the environment form an increased carbon footprint?
Look to Your Windows First
First of all, let the sun coming through your windows in the daytime help heat your home. Don’t drop your curtain or blinds when perfectly good sunlight could be coming in to heat your home. On the other hand, make certain that you do cover up drafty windows that can let too much cold air into your home; some sunlight won’t be enough to balance out a window that just lets the outside, inside.
Look to Your Home’s Temperature
While you’re awake you should set your thermostat to as low as it can be while still allowing you and your family to feel comfortable. While you’re asleep, however, you should turn your thermostat back down to 10 or 15 degrees to save on your bills. If you’re having trouble maintaining heat in the daytime, track down any leaks in your home and seal them.
Take Care of your Heating System
An inefficient heating system can drain your wallet faster than anything, and that is often due to your heating system requiring overdue maintenance. It’s a machine like any other, and will break from time to time; do yourself a favor and have it seen to before you really need it! If you want something a little simpler, try a fireplace instead!
Energy is on everyone’s lips these days, from talk about the Middle East to fracking to our outdated power grid. We are definitely facing some serious issues that will affect the economy, the environment, politics, and how we live our lives in the years to come. You can help separate yourself from some of those troubles by taking the initiative on your home’s energy needs and forgoing gas, coal, or whatever else you’re being asked to pay, especially for the colder seasons of the year; instead, choose geothermal heating and never look back. There are so many reasons to go with geothermal heating it’s tough to list them all, but here’s a few:
This is obviously the first thing you think about when you consider your energy costs, and not without reason; when we look at the major trends that energy has taken in the past few years, skyrocketing prices are high among them. Geothermal heating is extremely efficient – in fact, it is 400% efficient, with 4 units delivered for every 1 unit of electrical energy expended. This can lower your heating bill by up to 70%!
Quiet, Clean, Safe
Some heating systems are loud, obnoxious, dirty, and frankly unsafe devices that sit in your basement, threatening the health and safety of your entire family. Geothermal units are quiet and have no outdoor unit to make a bunch of racket, and they produce no combustion to create carbon-monoxide, a potentially lethal gas!
Safe for the Environment
Let’s be frank – what we do affects the environment, from pouring trash onto the side of the road to our choices in fuel. Because geothermal heating does not emit carbon dioxide, it is far safer for the environment than anything else, not contributing to greenhouse gasses nor to the general mass of smog and soot that some areas see.
It’s safe, it’s quiet, it’s clean, it’s cheap, and it’s good for the planet – what’s not to love?!
People are always looking for the “next big thing” as far as their heating and energy costs are concerned, but the next big thing may in fact be the real deal! We’re talking, of course, about geothermal heating. Geothermal heating is, in fact, one of the most efficient residential heating and cooling systems that you can purchase on the open market. The system has been shown to have a 50 to 70% greater efficiency than other heating systems, while its cooling system’s efficiency is 20 to 40% greater than your run-of-the-mill air conditioner. For you, the end-user, this means greater savings on your utility bills.
The System Works
The system works as a combination heating/cooling and hot water heating system, allowing it to perform both heating and cooling functions for you. Using your thermostat, you can change from one mode to another; some systems also allow you to pre-heat your water, which over time will save you a considerable amount of money.
This can be done by using what is known as “waste heat” to heat water. When your system is in cooling mode during the summer, your hot water is produced without charge to you as a simple byproduct of the geothermal process. Meanwhile, in winter, with the heating mode, some of your water can be heated.
Why Not Go For It?
When choosing to install a “newfangled” technology, one often worries that it will take up a considerable amount of space, that it will cost quite a bit upfront, or that it will break or go inactive or inefficient soon after installation, thereby costing you even MORE money down the line. Geothermal heating, however, is a proven process, and one that requires very little space indeed. In fact, you should only need the space that a traditional heating and cooling unit would require.
Your system should last well into the multi-decade warranty that most systems come with, so great is the confidence of manufacturers. The unit itself is something that nearly all owners are greatly pleased with; not only is it effective, efficient, and does not take up much space, but it also is very quiet. If you value a peaceful and quiet home, then this is the heating method for you.
Some have expressed safety concerns, but with no outdoor equipment, there’s no risk to pets or children, and with no open flame or flammable fuel, it is in fact safer than the dangerous storage tanks most homes have to use! Indeed, this is an ideal method of safely and efficiently heating and cooling your home; why not go for it?
The end of winter and the start of spring means that summer is just around the counter, but unfortunately, that also means that sooner or later, it is going to be much, much, much warmer than you’ve grown accustomed to over the past few months. Consequently, you’re going to have to start cooling your home soon, which can end up costing you a considerable amount of money in bills over time. After all, the larger and more luxurious your home is, the more space there is to cool, which can end up driving you bill into the stratosphere.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way; you can find a number of ways to reduce the cost of energy while also make a positive impact on the environment. When you can contribute to society while also saving yourself considerable amounts of money – as your bills always have a way of increasing at incredible rates come every summer, it would seem – you know that you’ve made a great decision.
Getting Started Saving
If you want to save money, the best place to start is in your basement. Much of the guts of your heating and cooling systems are located there, and you can make a huge amount of difference by making minor modifications or adjustments to those systems. For starters, you can clean your air-conditioning filters every month, ensuring that you get maximum airflow. Furthermore, by getting regular, professional checks once a year, you can also ensure that the system is functioning as efficiently as possible; that efficiency will save you considerable money over time.
If the efficiency of your air conditioning system is at maximum and you find that it is still not as efficient as you would like, you might consider getting an entirely new air conditioner. Specifically, energy-efficient units are available and can actually qualify for a tax credit that will save you even more money over the long run. If this is an option you are seriously considering, ensure that you are getting a seasonal energy-efficiency ratio of 16 to 21, which is the highest possible level of efficiency.
Foolproof Ways to Save
Something else to look out for is to ensure that your home makes your cooling process as efficient and low-cost as possible. For example, are you certain that your home is leak-free? Check your windows, your doors, and even your walls – along with the air conditioning system itself – to ensure that none of your cool air is escaping into the world, with you having paid for it.
Ultimately, lowering the cost of cooling your home is a combination of adapting your home to efficient, optimal cost-saving, along with investing in equipment and other technology that will ultimately be an investment in your future.
When it comes to siding your home there are a few different things to keep in mind, the first is of course insulation. Insulated siding is a fairly new concept and can be helpful in a few different ways while also being a hindrance. It is important to keep a few different issues in mind when choosing your siding, insulated or not. These issues can help you decide if insulated siding is worth the extra money.
Insulated Vs. Non-Insulated
The first issue to contend with is of course the amount of insulation in your own home. It is likely, that if you have a newer home, there is plenty of insulation in your home making insulated siding non-essential. Though it is not essential, it can help keep your home in great shape. The overall idea of insulated siding is to add an extra level of insulation to your home to help cut down heating and cooling costs and to help keep heat and cooling from escaping your home. Non-insulated siding is often cheaper than insulated siding but if you need to add extra insulation after the siding is put up, it may be beneficial to go for the insulated siding to begin with.
Is it Worth it?
After of course considering how well your home is insulated, you may also want to think about how much money you have to spare and how likely it is that your home needs the extra insulation. For those that have a bit of money to throw around, insulated siding is not a horrible investment. Even if your home is well insulated, the extra insulation can help to decrease heating and cooling bills in the long run and can prevent insulation failure. For those that do not have the extra money lying around, non-insulated siding still offers a bit of insulation and protection against the elements, and you can always have extra insulation added after installation.
If you have questions about the insulation in your home or siding in general, it is always best to talk to a professional. Some companies offer breaks for those that buy insulated options and for those that work to make their homes more energy efficient. It is always helpful to talk to the person installing your insulation to see if there are any price cuts for certain types of insulation making insulated options more affordable.
Today’s custom homes are being constructed with increasing levels of energy efficiency in mind. If you are still looking for ways to improve efficiency and reduce fuel costs in your home, you may want to look toward your water heater.
Here is a quick look at the pros and cons of solar, gas and electric water heaters.
Electric Water Heaters
With electric water heaters, you have three basic options. You can choose a conventional tank storage system, a tankless water heater or a heat-pump electric water heater.
Conventional tank systems today are well insulated and experience minimal heat loss. Tankless water heaters use a surprising amount of energy, especially in a whole house system. If you are considering a tankless system to save energy you may be disappointed. A heat pump water heater uses the warm air in the area near the heater to heat the water, rather than converting it to heat via a heating element. While a heat-pump electric water heater may take a longer period of time to fully heat a tank of water, it is very efficient once it is up to temperature.
Gas Water Heaters
One of the biggest advantages of gas water heaters is that they heat water quicker than other options. There are many homes however, that are not equipped for gas or propane.
Gas water heaters will take up a little more space than their electric counterparts, and they will likely be more expensive to install than electric.
Solar Water Heaters
There are few disadvantages to a solar water heater other than the initial cost of the unit and installation. Tanks in these heaters do produce heat so you will want to consider carefully their location. Since they are more “technical” it may cost more to maintain them as the years go by.
The positives however, are pretty compelling. You are using a free energy source (the sun) to heat your water. That means lower fuel bills, especially in particularly sunny climates. There are also government incentives to consider.
Replacing your water tank doesn’t happen very often, but when the time comes, it is worth considering the new options available to you. It is always a good indication to look at what systems are being placed in new custom homes to see where current trends are heading.
Custom built homes offer the greatest opportunities for you to have an environmentally-friendly abode as you control every step of the construction process. Whether you’re considering an eco-friendly home remodeling project or are thinking about a custom home, consider these 3 tips for making your home more green.
Green Interior and Exterior Painting
The dangers of traditional paints typically begin during the drying process, when the release of volatile organic compounds occurs. Particularly dangerous during indoor applications to those with sensitivities, these compounds also permeate outdoor spaces and cause environmental repercussions. There are really no long-term studies on the release of VOC’s and their permanent effects, so consider going green with your interior and exterior paints, stains and finishes, and concrete and floor sealants or coatings for safe measure.
Eco-Friendly Windows – Ideal for Custom Built Homes or Renovations
One of the most pioneering green products obtainable within residential construction today are green windows, which offer up to 50 percent better energy performance than ever before. Don’t hesitate to invest in Low-e glass coatings that increase the R-value of traditional double-glazes from 2 to close to 3 on the efficiency scale published by the National Fenestration Rating Council. Double low-e or HeatMirror coatings are considered premium windows, but the can increase the insulation value up to staggering ratings of R-9!
Although these options are more costly initially, the savings can be recompensed on utility savings, particularly when used in conjunction with an Energy Star HVAC system. Keep in mind that aluminum frames are sub par to vinyl frames concerning efficiency, but attractive wood window installations are still most desirable for efficiency, attractiveness, and ROI.
Be as Cool as Your Green Roof
Cool roofs are the latest in eco-friendly roofing technologies, and are designed to resist solar reflection and lower thermal absorption. Essentially, they deflect more rays and heat than they absorb making them ideal for warmer environments. However, just about any roofing installation you choose beyond traditional shingles will foster a green custom home as they are not typically recyclable.
The best way to discover green home ideas that are right for your dwelling is to consult with an experienced home builder or residential contractor near you. With many offering free estimates or consultations, what’s your excuse for not going green?
There are many things homeowners can do by themselves to improve the efficiency of a home. Many of these ideas are also budget-friendly and the cost will be paid back quickly with the energy savings.
Window treatments offer an exceptional efficiency option while improving the look of your home. For south-facing windows, choose drapery or blinds that filter the light in the summer to reduce the heat. Reducing the light will also reduce the potential for color fading in carpets and furniture.
Heavy, insulated draperies should be used over large or north-facing windows to reduce cold air filtration during the winter. You might also choose clear plastic liners designed to prevent airflow while still providing a clear view.
CFL bulbs save a large amount of energy over incandescent. So much so that the federal government has banned the production of 40 and 60-watt bulbs in the U.S. as of January 1, 2014. Higher watt bulbs are also being phased out. Choose CFL or LED lighting for low-cost, long-lasting lighting options. The bulbs may cost more in initial purchase, but they are designed to operate much longer than incandescent types.
For a custom home type improvement, set up automatic lighting systems that turn needed lights on or off at set times of the day. Motion detection systems are another choice and work well in areas where individuals may forget to turn lights back off. Newer automated systems can even be controlled remotely from a computer or smart phone.
Use a durable caulk around all door and window seams. Even the smallest gaps can let in a significant amount of hot or cold air. Check both the inside and outside of window and door frames and seal any areas where you feel a draft. Look for any areas where utilities enter your home and caulk around these openings.
Use weather-stripping for any gaps where an exterior door meets the frame. Rolls of weather-stripping are low in cost and self-adhesive types apply easily with no mess. Add quality door seals to the bottom of all exterior doors to stop drafts from entering underneath. As a temporary fix, a rolled up towel can be placed at the bottom of the door to stop drafts.
If you have finally moved into your new custom home and want to find ways to have a more greener lifestyle, fortunately there are several easy things you can do to get started. It is important to keep in mind that you don’t need to take large steps to help reduce your carbon footprint; a few simple changes will have a bigger impact than you may imagine.
Reduce Water Consumption
A standard size bathtub typically uses about 40 gallons of water to fill and the majority of the water used has to be heated. Instead consider taking about a ten minute shower, which can reduce the amount of water you use by five to ten gallons and it doesn’t’t require as much energy to heat less water. Although using the dishwasher is convenient, it requires a significant amount of water and all of the water used in a dishwasher is hot, so consider washing dishes by hand during the weekdays and only run the dishwasher with a full load one time on the weekend.
Killing Energy Vampires
One of the largest consumption of energy use are energy vampires. Energy vampires are the electronic devices you use that are plugged in when they don’t need to be. For example, unplugging cell phones, laptops, televisions and game stations when not in use will significantly lower the amount of energy you use. Even when electronic items are not turned on they still suck up energy while plugged in. Unplug all devices when not in use, including toasters, coffee makers and other small household appliances.
There are a wide range of ways to recycle items to decorate custom homes. For example, instead of buying furniture for your new home have your old furniture recovered; it will give your furniture a completely new look, you will save money and the old furniture will not be thrown in a landfill. Use your creativity to recycle and re-purpose items such as coffee grounds, which can be used to provide nutrients to your garden or consider installing a compost area to reduce the amount of food waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
The goal to going green is to take a few small steps at a time until you are doing a big part in reducing your families carbon footprint. It is often the little things that make the most difference, such as reducing the amount of water your family uses or eliminating the waste you send to a landfill. Encourage your family to get involved and you can contact local environmental agencies for additional tips on how to save more energy, reducing your utility bills and saving water.
“These windows will pay for themselves in a year.” You’ve heard the sales gimmicks, but will the expense of energy efficient windows be worth the expense in the next year, or two, or five? Reviewing a few stats about newer windows can help you make a financially-sound decision when replacing windows or making selections for your new custom home.
Saving on Utility Costs
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average household spends 45 percent of its annual utility budget on heating the home. Inefficient windows may be letting 10 to 25 percent of the heat out, which adds to heating costs. Energy efficient windows include features like double-paned glass to keep heat in and usually provide an airtight fit. For year-round savings, choose double-paned windows that come with a coating to block UV rays. You’ll get the benefit of gorgeous natural lighting in the warmer months without the heat that comes with sunbeams.
Increase Home Value
Replacing old windows increases the value of your home. According to a report from Remodeling magazine, higher or midrange replacement costs are usually recouped at 70 to 75 percent on the dollar. That means for every $100 you spend, you could recoup $75 in value when you sell your home. It seems like you’re taking a loss, but if you live in the home for a few more years, you’ll also be getting the benefit of the new windows, including monthly savings on your utility bill. In the end, you’ll likely see a profit in terms of total value. Even if you are having a custom home built, selecting energy efficient windows can protect your value.
Getting the Most from Energy Efficient Windows
Popping energy efficient windows into an old home or poorly designed new construction isn’t going to provide a miracle. For the best results on utility costs, consider installing quality insulation and sealing any cracks or openings in the home. Even if windows are blocking heat or cool air from escaping, you could be leaking money through doors, poorly insulated crawl spaces, or attics.
When it gets cold outside, the heat goes on inside. However, this regularly leads to incredibly high energy bills over the course of the winter months. As this winter has been colder than most on record, and there will probably be other incredibly cold winters in the future, it’s important for your pocketbook to know how to save as much energy as possible and keep your home warm without breaking the bank. Below are 3 tips for energy efficiency in the winter months, this year and in the future.
Seal Your Walls
Make sure there are no cracks in your walls, in corners, joints or around windows. This will allow cold air to seep in and warm air to seep out en masse and is one of the leading reasons energy is wasted in the winter. If you do find cracks, use caulk to fill them and then add insulation within the walls themselves, as this will help to keep heat in and cold air out. Also pay attention to other places where there are technically holes in walls, like outlets and electrical boxes. These can be overlooked areas where hot and cold air flow in and out with regularity and are never properly sealed off.
Get Better Windows
Windows are one of the main places where cold and warm air flow in and out of a house during the winter months and these can lead to real energy inefficiency. Beyond checking the cracks around windows, make sure you have thick panes of glass that won’t allow as much air flow. You may need to actually have these replaced in the summer months, to make sure they are thick enough to keep air in. It’s also important to add insulation around the cracks along the edges of your windows as well.
Install a Smart Thermostat
Your heating system being left on is a real waste of energy in winter months, so the smarter technology that is operating it, the less waste. A Smart Thermostat will turn on and off the heat when necessary, rather than just allowing it to blow endlessly and waste money.
Everyone will be looking to save a bit of money on their heating bills this winter. There are a number of ways to do it, and here are three very simple ones.
Turn down the heat, and add a layer of clothing
One simple, and basic, way to save money on your heating bills is to turn down the heat. Each degree that you lower the thermostat equates to more money in your pocket. Think you will be too cold? Just throw on a second layer, a sweater!
The typical rule of thumb is that for every degree you lower the temperature in your home, it equals a 3% savings on your electric bill. The ACEEE (or American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy) states that if you remember to turn down the thermostat 10 degrees when you go to work and then again 10 degrees when you go to bed, it will save around 14% on your heating bills.
Winterize Your Home
Winterizing your home is a must for saving money this season. Make sure to caulk windows and use weatherstripping on doors. This will prevent heat loss. Look for any air leaks, such as those from the attic to the house, and of course, seal those, too. Speaking of attics, insulation can really save you money on your heating bills. Today you can even custom build with energy efficient insulation that may even get you a tax break–even more savings!
You can also install storm windows and doors to keep out drafts and keep your house warmer.
Turn down your water heater, too. See what it is already set at, typically the factory setting is a bit higher than necessary. Set it to 120º. This will allow you to save on heating costs because it provides you with comfortable hot water without breaking the bank.
If you are currently designing your custom home, keep in mind these helpful tips, and look for ways to save on your heating costs as you build. Green homes are great for both the environment and your bank account.
A roof is an essential part of your home and you should make sure that it is properly maintained. Having shelter is a necessity that every human needs in order to survive. For many individuals, a home is not only shelter, it is a primary investment. The best way to protect your investment in your home and have a roof that lasts for many years to come, is to have your roof inspected at least twice each year. It is ideal to have your roof inspected during the spring and fall. In general, most roofs will have to be replaced after 20 to 50 years. This factor will depend upon if the roof has been properly cared for and what kind of material the roof is made from.
Advantages of Replacing Your Roof
There are quite a few advantages of replacing your roof. A roof that is sturdy and secure will prevent rain and other weather factors from coming into your home and causing damage. If you have a roof that is weak, you are putting your home at risk to develop leaks, especially when heavy rainfall and storms occur. Not only will your roof be damaged, but your prized possessions that are in your home can be damaged and destroyed. If you are looking to save money and have a roof that will last for many years to come, you may want to think about an eco-friendly roof that allows you to incorporate solar panels. This new roof will add curb value to your home and increase the insulation of your home. If you need help deciding whether your roof needs to be replaced or not, you can go up to your attic and check for mildew, damp spots, and external light entry. It will be a good idea to get an outside perspective of your roof to check for any tiles that may be broken and bald shingles.
Having a Rock Roof
A lot of homeowners decide to purchase a rock roof because they are inexpensive, and they can be recycled. If you need a quick solution to issues with your roof, it may be in your best interest to consider this type of roof because it can replace your old roof within a shorter timeframe than other options.
Using Composite or Asphalt Shingles
Asphalt or composite shingle roofs are the most common within the U.S. This roof is common because it is an expensive choice and it protects your entire structure from rain and wind. The only downside to this type of roof is that it needs to be replaced after about 20 years. If you notice mildew, mold, or lose asphalt shingles, this is an indication that you should replace your roof immediately.
Using Wood Shingles
When you use wood or shake shingles, you may be using these for the grand appearance that it provides your home with. Although wood shingle roofs are more expensive than several other options that are available to you, these roof types last a lot longer. When these roof types are properly cared for and maintained, it has the ability to last for 25 to 30 years. As far as this roof type is concerned, you will need to frequently check for splintering or dry wood.
Here are a few instances that you need to consider when you are considering replacing your roof. It is important that you explore each of your options and ask a professional to assist you with choosing the best option for your situation.
Money is tight. Most of us don’t have enough to waste on a house that is not efficient in how it uses energy. There are a number of ways that you can make your home more energy efficient, whether it’s a custom home or part of a tract of cookie-cutter houses. Sure, you can go out and buy a handful (or truck full) of “Energy Star” rated appliances and at least your appliances will be more energy efficient. However, this does nothing for the energy efficiency of your house itself.
Insulating Can Save Serious Money
Most homeowners, especially those that live where the weather can be vicious, already know that insulating their home is a great way to make the house more energy efficient. Attics and sometimes even walls either have the R-value of their current insulation upgraded or, especially with older houses, insulation installed for the first time. But walls and ceilings/roofs aren’t the only places that energy, and hence money, can fly out of your house, especially if you live somewhere that has serious winter weather.
Much of the water distribution piping in your house runs in the attic, a space that normally isn’t insulated much from the weather outside. A significant amount of money every year can be saved simply by wrapping/insulating as much of the hot water piping in your house as you can reach.
The heating and ventilation system in your house probably has most of its duct work in the attic as well, unless it’s an older home, in which case said duct work may be in the basement or crawlspace under the house. Simply wrapping these ducts with a layer or two of insulation can also save a significant amount of money over time.
Seal the Openings to Increase Energy Efficiency
You’re so proud and happy. You’ve gone out and bought double- or triple-pane windows so as to save money on heating and cooling costs. You’ve bought a relatively thick insulated door for each of the exterior doors in your house. But you’ve ignored something almost as important- the seams/doorjambs. Perfom a little test: Next time the thermometer either drops or rises to create a good difference in temperature between the inside and the outside, place a thermometer on a windowsill or right next to a door and see how much of a temperature difference there is between near the ventilation register and the door or window.
Even doors that fit in their jambs perfectly have gaps between the door and the frame that allows the passage of air-cold in during the winter and cold out during the summer. Most owners of custom homes or tract houses can increase their home’s energy efficiency simply by properly sealing around doors and windows. Caulk around window frames and apply sealing strips around the edges of doors.
When building a custom home you want to get everything right. Doors should fit snug and so should windows. This home has got to be great and you want to use every tip possible for choosing energy efficient windows.
No matter where you live moisture is a problem and if windows are not sealed properly moisture can get in and cause erosion of surfaces. Mold and mildew ease in unnoticed from cold and wet. Windows installed without proper installation techniques will void a warranty, costing the home owner money if replacement is necessary. Custom homes builders use every consideration when installing and choosing windows for the home. Climate has a great deal to do with how your windows react and trained builders will know the proper windows to install and the flashing to use in your climate.
Cold and Heat Repellant
No matter what century wood wins hands down when it comes to fighting the energy war. Wood windows are far more efficient and they look great. They last and today they can be treated with vinyl or aluminum to stop the usual wear. Wood is able to match any color you choose and equipped with double panes they hold out the coldest of winds and sultry heat. Some people use shutters. This is a great way to hold out heat or cold and to help windows operate more efficiently. Custom Homes investigate every aspect of window installation before installing them in your home. Windows with low E coatings are good energy saver. Composite windows rank fairly high when saving energy but they do not touch, the beauty of wood.
When you want appliances that are made of material that is durable, consider stainless steel. They are used in restaurant and commercial kitchens because they are easy to maintain and keep clean. Stainless steel does not absorb dirt easily and can be kept clean by wiping with a damp cloth. There are cleaners that can be use with stainless steel to keep the surface shiny and new looking. Stainless steel appliances are perfect for custom homes.
Stainless steel appliances have a long life span. They do not become rusty or worn looking. The material resists germs better than some surfaces. The fact the appliance can be wiped down with a disinfectant and soft cloth. This make it attractive to parents with children. Even with pets, stainless steel helps you keep your kitchen as clean as possible.
Stainless steel appliances match almost any kitchen design or color. They match wood cabinets, tile backsplashes, or even metal fixtures. This material can be used on dishwashers, stoves, refrigerators, cook tops, and freezers. It is a hygienic and safe material to prepare foods on. Often it resists bacteria and germs better than other materials.
Stainless steel appliance often increase the value of the house because of the appearance of the kitchen. They are a status symbol for many owners
Cons of Stainless Steel Appliances
They are more expensive and do show fingerprints and smudges more so you have to wipe them more often. Find the best products to clean stainless steel with so you can keep the surface looking new. Simple products like Windex and vinegar work well on a stainless steel surface. Stainless steel may look too stark in a country kitchen or industrial in some settings.
Building your dream house can easily turn into a nightmare without proper planning and preparation. While you may have visions of elaborately decorated trees during the holidays or walls covered in artwork created by your favorite artist, first you need to address the bare bones of your new home. Here are three tips to get you started with the planning process, which can make or break a new home according to Better Homes and Gardens.
Start with the Basics
Grab a notebook and pencil for the earliest planning stages of a custom home in PA. Draw out a rough sketch of the layout as this will be professionally drafted by your custom builder. As for amenities and premium features, such as stainless steel appliances or heated floors, write lists in your notebook. Use a separate sheet of paper for each room, and prioritize the list with features you cannot live without.
Plan for the Future
Evaluate the future as you decide how your house will need to grow along with your life. Do you have plans to expand your family? Perhaps you have a child away at college who could possibly return to the nest one day. Maybe you have an aging parent who may eventually need to move into your home. Consider the possibilities of your occupation. Have you ever considered working from home, in which case you would want a private home office? If you are nearing retirement, having a separate crafting or woodworking area might be ideal.
Color, light and flow of a home play a major role in physical and physiological issues. For instance, each winter millions of Americans struggle with SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, because of a lack of natural light. Having plenty of well-positioned windows can remedy this issue. Room colors play an essential role in a person’s mood. While certain colors illicit feelings of happiness and peace, such as green and yellow, other colors excite and energize including red and orange. The flow of a room can have real consequences in the case of a physical impairment, such as if you have an accident that requires you to be wheelchair bound. You’ll quickly discover that your master suite on the third floor will be unused if you depend on a spiraling staircase to reach it.
Custom Home Group is the unique choice for home buyers. Introduce yourself to built in ovens, stove top grilling and large kitchen islands. Custom homes PA is all about building quality homes. A home is a functional place with garbage disposals and refrigerators with ice makers. These things may be in many kitchens but in a Custom Group home they are expertly installed to add to the beauty of the kitchen and the rest of the home; not to just sit there.
Designers and builders are searched out the world over for their unique way of building a product; this too is the case with Custom Home Group. With Custom Homes communities located throughout the Lancaster, PA area buyers will purchase a home they can be proud of and know the product will last. Get custom cabinetry, stove hoods, and a wealth of other decorative yet, functional amenities in one of Custom Home Groups properties. The home packages are built with the buyer in mind and a relationship that will last for years. If a deck is the thing you enjoy in a home this is a part of the Custom Homes process; all about getting the things in a home you want and need.
The quiet elegance of these homes is disarming catching one off guard as they are welcomed into the foyer. The grandeur is clear in Custom Homes. Custom Home Group has the electricians, builders and other craftsmen qualified to build the best homes possible. In Custom Homes outdoor living is appreciated as much as the inside environment. Windows, lighting and colors all affect the way you feel, all of this is considered when designing luxury residences. Windows are a designer fabric in beautiful homes, custom creations allow the world to come in with the push of a button and close it out as quickly. Technology is very much a part of the Custom Home Group.
Individuals who choose to have a home built to their specifications can include many “green” features that will save them money on utilities and other expenses, including taxes. When building custom homes PA contractors know the rules and regulations the EPA has set in place to protect the environment. Guidelines can be obtained that provide details on energy saving materials and techniques which will reduce the impact of the new home on the environment.
The EPA has designed the ENERGY STAR rating system to help homeowners improve their energy savings in both new and existing homes. Homeowners are discovering that building a green home does have its advantages. Solar panels can be placed on a home and used to dramatically cut the cost of heating and cooling the home for years to come. Along with tightly sealed ductwork and joints throughout the home, this can produce exceptional savings. Effective insulation is another plus that can be added while the home is still under construction.
When building new custom homes PA contractors use high performance, energy saving windows that seal out extreme temperatures while keeping moderated temps inside. Contractors can also suggest energy efficient appliances as well. Water heaters, refrigerators and heating and cooling systems that are rated for high energy efficiency can be installed as the home is built so the new home owner can begin to realize immediate savings. Contractors and builders can also assure the home has proper ventilation without compromising the tightness and structural soundness of the home.
To be considered an ENERGY STAR home, a third party must be able to verify the newly constructed dwelling meets and exceeds the standards put in place by the EPA. A home inspector or an insurance agent that specializes in insuring homes and businesses can provide the verification and qualify the home as ENERGY STAR approved.