Investing in sustainability can be a surefire way to save money in the long run. We’ve listed some of the most cost-effective elements of green building below, Some of these are more expensive up-front, but they will likely produce substantial savings that easily outweigh this initial expense. New homes that incorporate these and other EnergyStar features consume 20-30% (the equivalent of approximately $500-600 annually in Siouxland) less energy than their counterparts.
1. Insulation with high resistance to heat flow (R-Value) in walls, attics, and basements
For the Siouxland area, the US Department of Energy recommends using R38 to R60 insulation in attics and R13-R21 in wall cavities. Abiding by these suggestions can save you well over 20% on your heating and cooling costs.
Source: Insulation Fact Sheet– US Department of Energy
2. Windows and doors with a low rate of heat transfer (U-Factor)
In order to maximize cost-effectiveness and sustainability, EnergyStar recommends the following standards for windows and doors in the Northern Climate Zone (which includes all of Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska):
- Windows with a U-Factor lower than 0.30.
- Doors (no-glass) with a U-Factor lower than 0.21.
- Doors (25-50% glass) with a U-Factor lower than 0.27.
- Doors (75-100% glass) with a U-Factor lower than 0.32.
3. Efficient Heating and Cooling
There are quite a few ways to incorporate energy-efficiency into the heating and cooling of your home. Here are some especially cost-effective ways to heat and cool your home in a sustainable manner:
- Install geothermal ground source heat pumps, which utilize in ground heating and cooling sources to produce far higher seasonal energy efficiency ratios (SEER) and energy efficiency ratios (EER) than standard heat pumps.
- Install central air conditioning with high SEER and EER.
- Install a furnace or boiler with a higher annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating.
4. LED Lighting
In terms of up-front costs, LED light fixtures remain a little more expensive than other light bulbs (though their price is rapidly declining), but they are over 75% more efficient than their incandescent counterparts because they lose much less energy to heat. LED bulbs also last 10 times longer.
5. EnergyStar certified appliances
Not all appliances are created equal when it comes to cost-effectiveness and sustainability. EnergyStar certified appliances are much more energy-efficient and, while perhaps more expensive initially, will lead to savings down the road.
- EnergyStar certified clothes washers have bigger tubs, meaning larger loads and less work. They use 20% less energy and 35% less water than ordinary washers.
- EnergyStar certified refrigerators are 15% more efficient than standard fridges, and certified freezers are 10% more efficient.
- EnergyStar certified dishwashers have, among other high-tech features, more efficient motors and sensors that optimize water temperature and cycle time for each load. They use up to 40% less energy than conventional dishwashers.