More home owners’ to-do lists are beginning to go green. “After two decades of rising costs, home owners are now putting energy efficiency near the top of their remodeling concerns,” concludes the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University in their 2007 report on the remodeling industry.
From 2005 to 2006, demand for energy management systems jumped to 54 percent from 38 percent, according to a national survey of architects. More than one-quarter of remodeling builders and contractors surveyed by the National Association of Home Builders at the end of 2006 reported increased consumer demand for green remodeling; only 6 percent reported less demand for green projects.
Also fueling demand is an aging housing stock. Homes built before the 1970s’ oil embargo use 30 percent more energy per square foot than those built since 1990, according to the Joint Center.
Whole House Approach
“The only way to bring green into 120 million existing households is through remodeling,” says Mike Nagel, NAHB Remodeler’s Council chair. “Americans spent more than $230 billion last year in home remodeling, with energy efficient and sustainable products representing an increasing share of the market.”
Although a majority of remodeling contractors incorporate energy-efficient projects, such as low-energy windows, insulated exterior doors, upgraded insulation, and high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, going green increasingly means more than replacing a component.
“Simply putting in that low E window doesn’t solve the problem,” says Michael Strong, a member of the NAHB Green Building subcommittee. “Home owners need to look at the whole room and eventually use a whole house approach to maximize efficiency.”
Top Green Tips
The top eight considerations for home owners, according to NAHB remodelers are:
- Installing maximum insulation in the area to be remodeled.
- Installing high-efficiency windows instead of those that just meet the energy code.
- Sealing all exterior penetrations in the area being remodeled.
- Purchasing only Energy Star–rated appliances.
- Installing only low-flow water fixtures.
- Upgrading to an Energy Star–rated water heater or, better yet, a tankless water heater.
- Purchasing the highest efficiency HVAC system you can afford.
— By Camilla McLaughlin for REALTOR Magazine Online