Does Mother Nature Pay Your Heating Bill?

Aside from dental care and income taxes, energy bills are probably at the top of the list of expenses most homeowners hate paying for.

The truth is, no one enjoys having to shell out sometimes significant chunks of change every month for what feel like basic necessities, but most people just accept it as a reality of home ownership. However, as builders, you have the opportunity to reduce the pain and increase the value of the properties you construct simply by giving extra attention to the home’s energy efficiency.

Here are a few proven ways you can help add value to your craftsmanship by focusing on materials and details that promote efficiency.

Pinpoint the Biggest Culprits of Inefficiency and build “up”
Whether it’s a new construction or a renovation, it’s tempting to build with economy fixtures, both to reduce material costs to stay within budget, and to keep down the price tag for the end-user. However, certain investments are worth it on the front end, and will add significant value to the property in the eyes of an educated owner, thus allowing you to make a greater profit on the back end. Adding the extra touch of building with high efficiency heating and cooling systems, Energy Star rated windows and doors, and high quality insulation in the walls and ceilings might increase the cost of a job, but clients will willingly pay that premium knowing the benefit these upgrades will have on their utility costs. Building “up” in terms of the materials you use also increases the time until replacement for the end user, a value for which they will also likely pay more.

Good Windows keep the right air in, and the wrong air out…
If you are advising clients on upgrades they can make to save on energy in your home, start with the two culprits that contribute most to inefficiency: windows, and insulation. According to energy.gov, “heat gain and heat loss through windows is responsible for 25%-30% of residential heating and cooling energy use. Sometimes this issue can be helped by simple touch up work on existing windows such as repairing caulking and weather stripping. If the windows are older though, you may want to advise your clients to replace them with quality, high efficiency models.

… And so does good insulation
Insulation is among the quickest, most inexpensive ways for a contractor to increase the efficiency of a home. Many of your less savvy clients might not understand the impact properly insulating can have– they just know they want to keep hot air out of their home during summer months, and the chilly New England weather out during the winter. Advising clients that, if they are really committed to controlling the climate of their house, upgrading their insulation from the pink stuff to spray foam, rock wool, or another top notch insulation should be step one.

Encouraging inexpensive investments and good daily habits are great advice you can provide
When it comes to energy, not every change has to be a massively expensive repair. Encouraging home buyers to pay a little extra to install high efficiency light bulbs, for instance, will consume less energy and save them money over time. For construction jobs in an older home, another simple and valuable investment to suggest is upgrading from an old analog thermostat to a programmable model. By doing this, your client can accurately track the temperature of their home or set their system to turn off or run lower at specific times of the day when they’re not affected by the climate of their home.

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