How to Build an Energy Efficient Home
LESLIE: Rene in Texas is building a new home and he’s looking to save some money. How can we help, Rene?
RENE: Well, yeah. Like I said, looking to build a new home and I want to try to make it as energy efficient as possible. I live in West Texas in El Paso and it’s a desert climate; very little rain; hot temperatures. So I just wanted to get some tips on, you know – I hear tankless water heaters with solar heating helps.
LESLIE: Oh my gosh, if you’ve got all that sun out there, it’s definitely wise to harness the solar power. You can be collecting rain water and heating that through solar power. You can be heating your home through solar energy. There’s lots of great options.
TOM: And there’s really two versions of solar. There’s active solar and passive solar. Active solar is when you actually have solar collection panels that are mounted on your property or on your roof. And the option is what’s called passive solar which is simply using the idea of the heat from the sun in a design of the building. So, for example, on the north side, having few windows and on – having more windows, I would say, than on the south side where the heat is.
And the other thing to think about, Rene, is that you want to make sure that you’re using, whenever possible, Energy Star products because the Energy Star program is an excellent program that’s developed by the Department of Energy that essentially sets the standards for manufacturers to produce products that are very, very energy efficient. So when you’re buying a water heater; when you’re buying a washing machine; when you’re buying a dishwasher you want to make sure that the product is Energy Star rated and also find out what level of Energy Star rating it has.
And lastly, it is possible – now, I don’t know if you’re buying this home from a builder or you’re building it yourself, but there is a program that’s called the Energy Star house program which basically rates the entire house as being energy efficient and Energy Star rated. And that basically is a program where the builders have to agree to build homes to a certain energy level and then have the homes tested upon completion to make sure they are as energy efficient as they are supposed to be.
LESLIE: And generally, you can get a major tax credit in addition to the tax credit on using Energy Star rated appliances or windows or any home improvement. If you build your home to an Energy Star rating from scratch, you actually qualify for a whole different tax rating and benefits just by making your home energy efficient.
I think you’re right, Rene, about thinking about tankless water heaters. When looking at windows, look at windows that have low-e glass; especially in such hot temperatures where you live. It’s going to keep that hot air from coming in through the windows. They’re just a great idea to have so they’ll keep your heating and cooling costs down.
RENE: Well, great.
LESLIE: You know what? And look into, if you can, any sort of green building materials. Look for renewable resources. If you can make your home totally self-sustaining by collecting rainwater, by using the sun, you will be so happy and doing a great benefit to this earth.
RENE: That sounds great.
TOM: Alright, Rene. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.