Do you have a question not listed here? Please contact us and we will promptly answer your questions. Please sign up for our newsletter to be updated on frequently asked questions.
1. Is it more expensive to build green?
The expense of green building depends on how green you would like to make your home. Whether or not you are creating a green building, the costs of construction generally depend on which finish materials and mechanical systems are chosen.
Green homes are built with the goal of using less energy and resources while also creating less waste and producing a healthier indoor environment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that people will spend about 90% of their lives indoors. They have also approximated that 30% of new buildings have indoor air quality problems. Is there really a price that can be put on the health of you and your loved ones?
During the design and construction phases of the process, mindful judgment about the purchasing of systems and appliances is important to help control costs. The quality of the appliances will affect the overall cost of the project. However, the increased costs of energy efficient appliances and systems can be justified by the inevitable savings from lower utility bills.
2. Why should I get a home performance test rather than an Internet energy survey or an audit from the utility company?
Utility inspections are a good start on the path to energy efficiency and reduced utility bills, because they can inform you of observable issues. Home performance tests however, consider the entire house when evaluating the performance of your home, and can measure what is or is not working.
Our qualified technicians are experts in building science and have the highest quality equipment to accurately evaluate your home. If an Internet or utility audit did not provide thorough enough results, contact us for a home performance test.
3. For remodeling projects, which green finish products do you use?
Standard products can almost always be substituted with green products. The green products that we use are made from renewable resources or contain recycled materials. They are durable products that will not affect the indoor air quality of your home.
There are three categories of green products that we use. These categories differ in the purchase price, the money saved, and the Earth-friendly qualities. The first category includes products such as Formica counter tops, which have a less expensive purchase price, but a more expensive price over time when maintenance and replacement costs are factored in. The second category includes sustainably harvested wood flooring, which costs more to purchase and may not save money over time, but is more Earth-friendly. The third category of products may include solar systems which may have a higher purchase price but can save the homeowner a significant amount of money in the long run.
Because green homes are considered as a whole and not by their individual parts, it is important to remember that one green modification to your home is a step in the right direction, but there are more steps to be taken to create a completely green home.
4. What are the consequences of sealing a house too tight, so that it can’t breathe?
When a house is able to “breathe”, uncontrolled air is able to flow in and out of the house. This can cause issues when cold air is able to enter the home in the winter and warm air is able to enter the home in the summer. The air quality, comfort level, and energy consumption of a home can also be affected by uncontrolled air movement.
We want your home to be able to breathe, but it is important that the air entering and exiting your home is controlled. With our mechanical ventilation system, we are able to control the ventilation in your home and ensure better indoor air quality. With the use of a blower door, we are able to measure the tightness or your home and test that the house is changing air correctly after the system is in place.
5. How durable are green products?
There are some green products that are durable, and some that are not. It is important that the homeowner consider the pros and cons of the products and research third party testing and opinions before making a decision on a product. We base our decisions on our years of experience with these products.
6. Are there any differences in the appearance of a green home and a standard home?
There does not have to be a visible difference between a standard home and a green home. The appearance of a green home can change based on the preferences of the homeowner. There are some types of green construction that can alter the appearance of a home, such as straw bale or adobe.
7. Can I save energy and money by replacing the windows in my home?
If you decide to replace single pane windows in your home with double low-e units, you can save energy. However, window replacement can be a costly endeavor and the amount of energy saved is not enough to outweigh the costs. It can take approximately 30 years to get a return on your investment, and the Department of Energy Efficiency estimated that windows only account for 10% of air leakage in a home. Overall, window replacement is not a cost effective solution.
8. Will a housewrap on my home create an air barrier?
Since housewrap is a barrier placed between siding and sheathing on a home, it can minimize air leakage from a home while preventing rain from getting behind siding. However, the majority of air leaks come from other areas of the home, so housewrap will not create an air barrier.
9. Is it dangerous to use compact-fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) in my home?
CFLs can last about 10 times longer than regular incandescent light bulbs and consume approximately 70% less energy. However, CFLs contain 4 mg of Mercury, a highly toxic chemical which can be harmful to the hearts, immune systems, brains, and kidneys of humans. The Mercury found in CFLs is not dangerous if the light bulb remains intact and is recycled properly after use.
10. Is it possible to use green building practices on my historical home?
We are able to help you maintain the integrity of your historical home while helping you to go green. There are a variety of practices that can be applied to your home to reduce energy and water consumption. When working on your home, we will also do our best to preserve and reuse building materials including doors, windows, molding and trim.
11. Which is a better option: a tankless water heater or a high performance tank water heater?
There are pros and cons to both units, so it depends on the priorities of the homeowner. No matter which water heater you choose to purchase, it is important that you consider an appliance with a high Energy Factor (EF). We recommend the installation of an on-demand recirculating pump to save water and energy on all hot water systems.
A tankless water heater will save on gas and electricity when it is not being used, because you do not need to keep the water warm, but it will use more gas and electricity while it is being used. If a recirculating pump is not installed, a tankless system can also increase water consumption. On the other hand, a tank water heater can act as an emergency water source in the event of a disaster.
12. Do I need a Home Performance Test if I already have insulation in my home?
Even if you have insulation in your home, that does not mean that you are getting the best performance from your insulation. Mistakes can be made during the installation process including gaps or crammed areas, and these can affect the performance that you get from your insulation. With a Home Performance Test, we can measure the effectiveness of the insulation you already have in your home.