Simple Steps to Reduce Energy Use and to Think Green When Buying New Home

As Earth Day approaches, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) encourages home owners everywhere to take simple steps to reduce energy use - and to think green when they buy a new home.

“We are all proud of the significant steps our members have taken to make new homes more energy efficient,” said NAHB President Sandy Dunn, a West Virginia home builder. “More than 100,000 green homes have been built by our members in home builder association programs around the country. We’re moving the market – in a voluntary, cost-effective way.”

Per square foot, new homes consume less than two-thirds the energy of older homes for heating and air conditioning, according to federal utility use audits and research by NAHB economists. “Americans who have bought a new home recently should all take a big bow on Earth Day,” Dunn said. “Today’s energy-efficient homes leave a lighter footprint -- and that’s something new homeowners can be very pleased about.”

Energy efficiency is an important driver in the green building movement and usually accounts for about half the costs of making a traditional home a green home, NAHB studies show. In the new NAHB National Green Building Program, homes must be 15 percent more energy efficient than required by the prevailing building code to meet the Bronze level of certification.

Consumers can choose a builder or remodeler who participates in the NAHB National Green Building Program and local home builders association programs or who is a Certified Green Professional™ when they are ready to buy a new green home or renovate their existing home.

“As many advances as we’ve made, NAHB recognizes that new energy-efficient homes are only part of the solution. We need to be better energy stewards in the homes we have now. That’s the most efficient way to make a noticeable impact on the amount of power we use,” Dunn said.

Dunn also suggested three simple measures that can make a noticeable difference for a home owner’s bottom line:

Switch out some light bulbs. The U.S. EPA estimates that if every home replaced its five most frequently used traditional light bulbs and fixtures with ones bearing the Energy Star label, the U.S. would save about $8 billion in energy costs and the greenhouse gas equivalent of emissions from 10 million cars.

Change the air filter in your heating and air conditioning system. The EPA recommends changing the filter at least every three months and more if it looks dirty. A dirty filter slows down air flow, making the system work harder and use more energy.

Seal and insulate. Home owners can typically save up to 20 percent of heating and cooling costs by air sealing their homes and adding insulation in attics, floors over crawl spaces, and accessible basement rim joists.

“As national leaders in the green building movement it’s important for NAHB to remind our customers – American home owners – to be energy conscious. We all must do our part,” Dunn said.

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