THEY DON’T BUILD THEM LIKE THEY USED TO
No, they don’t. And you wouldn’t want it any other way.
As much as I adore historical homes for their character and craftsmanship, they do need maintenance and upgrades to keep them in shape. Old homes, for all their charm and detail, had few of the essentials of how we live today. They had no insulation, drafty chimneys, leaky windows, and dank basements.
What you probably don’t know is that energy efficient homes are in two categories; 1. Pre 2006 and 2. Post 2006 built. You might be surprised that in 2012 there was a 30% energy efficiency improvement over 2006, and another 31% in 2015.
Most people are dazzled by the kitchens, baths, and giant master suites with tons of closet space. What is hidden in the walls, and basement is a home that functions smarter than a home built pre 2006.
What you’ll be looking at in a new construction home is the new Building Science of a high performance home. This is not your grandma’s house. The difference is that you work for a house, but home is a verb that works for you. Here are 4 words on why you care: Energy, Efficiency, and Low Maintenance. What if your utility bill was $5?
It’s all about controlling the water inside and out.
The foundation controls the flow of ground water around and away from the home. Water and humidity inside the home is routed out of the home through plumbing, vents, and pumps. Since new homes are built to avoid fewer air leaks, it is important to control healthy humidity levels inside the home. Too much humidity results in mold spores and fungus growth. Too little humidity affects your health causing dry eyes, irritated sinuses, inflammation of the respiratory system and cracked skin. It also can cause wood shrinkage and static shocks.If you live in an old house, what does your hair look like after using a hair dryer in winter?It sticks up like a horror movie. Recommended levels are between 40-60% humidity.
Energy efficient windows provide space heating and lighting.
For effective use of passive solar energy, major glazing areas face south to collect solar heat when the sun is low. Windows on east, west and north are minimized because it’s difficult to control heat when the sun is low in winter. Low emissivity glazing helps controls heat gain and loss by reflecting heat back into a room in winter, and out in summer.For the whole scoop on windows, https://energy.gov/energysaver/energy-efficient-windows.
The US Dept. of Energy estimates that 56% of energy goes to heating and cooling. New home construction seals heating ducts saving up to a 30% heat loss. Radiant floor heating off sets cold basements and allows heat to rise evenly floor to ceiling. Some builders are designing wide open stair cases allowing warm air to rise to upper floors and reducing overall heating costs, and cleaner air.
Indoor Air Quality has been improved with extensive insulation and sealing techniques.
Once the home is draft free, it’s important to ensure a constant supply of fresh, filtered air at the right temperature and humidity. Some construction materials give off gases from Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs, like formaldehyde). New green-building programs (Energy Star) establish standards for acceptable levels of VOCs, and partners with developers of carpeting, paint, adhesives, flooring and cabinets with reduced VOCs. Your lungs and nose will thank you.
Although Grandma’s house was hers, it didn’t have a HERS. What’s a HERS score? It’s a Home Energy Rating Score that tells you how efficient the heating, cooling, and water heating performs energy wise. The lower the score, the more efficient the home, and the lower your energy bills will be. Minnesota was among the six states with the lowest average HERs index cores; of 51. There were 6,494 new homes rated with an average score of 51 in 2016. That means that those homes are 49% more efficient than the ‘reference’ home built in 2004. I’m certain that your grandma would trade hers for a HERS any day. For the whole HERS story, check out www.hersindex.com/interactive.