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Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 12/23/2016

With a bit of preplanning and working closely with your architect and builder, it is easy and efficient to incorporate eco-friendly, money saving methods and materials into your home building plans.


Throughout North America, spring frost heave and subsequent settlement can cause substantial structural damage to a home. Many savvy builders avoid this potential situation by installing frost-protected shallow foundations (FPSF), which raise frost depth by directing the home's heat loss back to the foundation.

Pre-Cast Insulated Wall Panels

Aesthetically appealing and thermally efficient, pre-cast wall panels use concrete and insulating foam to deliver superior insulation values for enhanced thermal efficiency. Moisture-resistant, mold-free, non-combustible and ultra-durable, pre-cast wall panels provide excellent insulation and soundproofing through the walls while providing a home interior free from irritating outside noise. The neighbor's barking dog or after midnight street traffic no longer prevents a good night's rest.

CarbonCast Insulated Wall Panels and CarbonCast Insulated Cladding are popular green products that will provide stellar insulation, enhance the value of your home and provide decades of quiet. The CarbonCast line of commercial products includes CarbonCast High-Performance Insulated Wall Panels, CarbonCast Insulated Architectural Cladding, and CarbonCast Double Tees.

Pre-Assembled Structural Insulated Panels

Now a staple of the green home construction industry, pre-assembled structural insulated panels, commonly known in the trade as SIPSs, replace conventional framing materials and methods and offer greater energy efficiency and sound-damping properties. They differ from pre-cast insulated wall panels in they do not contain concrete.

SIPS are manufactured from polystyrene foam sandwiched between oriented strand board to provide insulation, framing, and exterior sheathing all in one piece. Employed in roof, wall and floor construction, SIPs provide greater energy efficiency than insulation placed in stud walls; offering an R-value improvement of 15 to 40 percent.

Incorporating Energy Saving Products And Practices With Smart Home Technology

The positioning and layout of your new home can have a major impact on energy efficiency and operational costs. The strategic location of operational skylights and savvy window placement helps improve natural ventilation, reduce heating and air conditioning use and captures the warmth of the sun during cold winter days.

Low-emissivity window coating, know as low-e, employs a thin metallic coating on window glass that permits the majority of the sun's short-wave (light) radiation to enter the room, while blocking greater than 90 percent of long-way (heat radiation). Low-e window coatings boost a home's R-value and reduce its U-factor resulting in an overall energy savings.

Smart home technology allows operational skylights, wind turbines, and windows equipped with rooftop monitors to passively lower energy bills and increase occupant comfort. With a fast click on an app on your smartphone, tablet or laptop you can turn down the heat, turn on the air conditioning, close the blinds and draw the drapes, control interior, and exterior lighting, activate the attic fan, warm up the hot tub, activate the alarm system, program dishwashers and laundry appliances to run at off-peak times when rates are low, water the lawn, or program your entire heating and cooling system to automatically respond to room occupancy, preset temperature preferences and sleep schedules.

Coping With Old Man Winter

Heat tape with remote/automatic temperature controls installed under sidewalks, patios and driveways eliminate the need for winter snow removal. Just think of all the hours and aching backs you can avoid with this wise trick. If you typically pay for someone to shovel you out all winter, it won't take but a couple of winters to pay for the inclusion of this feature. If geothermal is an option, pipes installed before the concrete is poured can warm the garage floor, basement and all exterior areas that require snow removal. Again, all electronic functions are easily controlled remotely with a smart home technology app on your mobile device.

Thermostatically controlled heat tape installed along the ridgelines of roof segments and in conjunction with rain guttering will keep roofs free of roof damaging snow accumulations and prevent dangerous icicles from forming. Installing heat tape is a cheap fix for a big problem.

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Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 11/18/2016

If you're at a loss to explain why your money seems to disappear so quickly, every month, your utility bills may be partly to blame. The solution to lowering your energy-related expenses involves a combination of high-tech approaches and old-fashioned methods. On the high-tech side, it pays to program your thermostat so that you're automatically adjusting your energy usage when your family is sleeping, at work, or at school. There's no need to make the house perfectly comfortable when no one's at home! If the idea of programming electronic devices causes you to break out in a cold sweat, then maybe you can ask your HVAC technician to set it up for you the next time he stops by for a service call or furnace tuneup. (Hey, you never know unless you ask!) Another way to save money on your energy bill is to use your clothes dryer less. This strategy is simple, but effective. Buy an old-fashioned clothes line, hang it up securely in your back yard, and use it to air-dry some of your laundry. I'm not saying it should replace your clothes dryer -- especially in the cold winter months. However, it can be an effective, low-tech method to reduce the energy demands you place on your dryer. There's also the option of drying some of your clothes on a drying rack. Fixing Leaks, Lighting, and Insulation Two common plumbing problems that many homeowners endure are toilets that run 24/7 and faucets that leak. While it may not seem that these relatively minor issues are going to impact your water bill, those leaks can and do add up over an extended period of time. Not only that, but the continual sound of your toilet tank running and your faucet dripping can be quite annoying! If you have the phone number of a reasonably priced plumber who can fix those problems, it'll pay to have him stop over. From an electricity standpoint, you can save money by replacing your incandescent light bulbs with Energy Star certified bulbs. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, these energy-efficient bulbs use 70-90% less energy than standard bulbs, they last 10 to 25 times longer, and produce substantially less heat. The fact that they generate up to 90% less heat makes them safer and more energy efficient, too -- particularly during the summer. As a side note, you can also save energy during the holidays by using Energy Star certified decorative light strings! Yet another way to make sure your home is energy efficient and cost effective is to check the insulation in the attic and other areas. If you're considering purchasing a home that is inadequately insulated, you could consider asking the seller to correct that problem, as a condition of the sale. An alternative approach would be to use that deficiency (and/or others) as a negotiating chip to get the price lowered. Whether you're buying or selling a house, an experienced real estate agent can help you negotiate mutually agreeable terms and successfully guide you through the twists and turns of real estate transactions!