Designing for Efficiency

A few years ago, it was all the rage to build a big home. Then the downturn brought us the small home movement. This small home movement provided the building industry with some much-needed shakeups in terms of how space is built into a home and how it is utilized. Devoted Builders has welcomed the challenge to be more efficient than ever with our space and materials in order to build a better home. Here’s what we have been working on: Continue reading “Designing for Efficiency”

Advances in Energy Efficiency = Customized Plans and Options

With years of building energy star certified homes under our belt and having been a pioneer of our local HBA’s Built Green program, it’s fair to say that Devoted Builders has real experience in energy efficient and sustainable home building in the Tri-Cities area; and with this experience comes knowledge. Valuable knowledge that comes from working on different styles of homes, built on different topographies in different areas, for owners with different energy efficiency and sustainability desires and resources. Continue reading “Advances in Energy Efficiency = Customized Plans and Options”

Summer Air Conditioner Maintenance

 

If you are planning on putting your home on the market, or have purchased a home in the last year, you may want to consider getting your air conditioning unit serviced now rather than waiting.

As the calendar moves from spring to summer, the air conditioner, whether you have a heat pump, swamp cooler, or some other type of cooling unit, will be in-demand in the coming months. So why act preventively? There are two important reasons: Continue reading “Summer Air Conditioner Maintenance”

Innovative Building Material – I.C.F. Construction

Through the years, man has relied on many types of materials to build shelters – brick, wood, mud, straw, and yes – even concrete.

But while one might picture a cold and unwelcoming institutional dwelling when thinking of concrete construction, it might surprise you to know that not only is concrete versatile and when combined with other materials, is very warm and inviting. It is also on the cutting-edge of energy efficiency, and is a building material that is perfect for the weather we have here in the Tri-Cities.

I.C.F. – Insulated Concrete Forms – are a great match for our climate extremes here in the Tri-Cities because, as its name says, they are very insulating. This helps homeowners use less energy to heat their homes during our cold winters. It might surprise you to know that they also do a better job of keeping a home cool in the summer because the thick wall regulates the temperature more evenly.

An additional bonus? Because the walls are more air-tight than their wood-built counterparts, the dust that plagues most stick-built homes (and becomes very bad in the wind here in the Tri-Cities), is significantly less in an I.C.F. home. In fact, a resident of Mediterranean Villas (an I.C.F. community in Pasco) reported having left for six months and returned to a virtually dust-free home!

So how does it work? Basically I.C.F. Construction is a series of lego-type foam blocks that stack on top of each other and lock into place, allowing concrete to be filled in the center. Then stucco or siding can be applied to the outside and drywall applied to the inside, just like a regular house. I.C.F. offer space to run not only plumbing but also electrical conduit.

Not only do homeowners of I.C.F. homes report they are much more comfortable (and outside noise-free!) than a stick-built home, the energy savings are very dramatic. David and Carol Myers who own an I.C.F. home in Mediterranean Villas reported that when they owned a comparable-size traditionally-built home, their energy bills would be up to $175 in the winter. However, since they moved to a Devoted Builders-built I.C.F. home, their highest winter energy bill was $66. Watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYfIHiQ5egw

You’ll probably be hearing a lot about I.C.F.s in the years to come.  If you’re considering a building project, you may want to consider insulated concrete form construction. For additional information and to learn more about this innovative, energy efficient way of building, please contact Jennifer Cowgill at (509) 947-5670 or Jessica Johnson at (509) 947-2230. You can also watch our videos here to learn more!

Should I Buy a New Home?

There are many things to consider when buying a home – should you buy something that has been lived in before or should you splurge and buy something new? New homes are usually more expensive than their resale counterparts, but is it worth it?

Aside from the possibility of being able to customize your new home with the finishes (counters, back-splash, flooring, and sometimes floor plan) and colors you like, buying a new home can actually save you money each month.

According to the National Association of Homebuilders, a home is considered “new construction” if it was built within the last four years.  The NAHB recently cited the 2009 American Housing Survey in evaluating what homeowners spent on maintenance expenses per month. The survey found that 26% of all homeowners spent $100 or more per month on home maintenance expenses. But of the homeowners who owned a home classified as “new construction,” only 11% of owners paid this amount. What is a more startling figure? 73% of new homeowners spent less than $25 per month on maintenance.

So what about utilities? According to the survey, all homeowners spent about $.78 per square foot per year on electricity. This means for a 2000 square foot house, $1560 ($130/month) was spent on electricity. However, compare this with “new” homeowners who spent only $.65 per square foot per year ($1,300 per year or $108.33 per month for the same 2,000 square foot house).

A big difference was seen in homes with natural gas. Homeowners on average spent $.53 per square foot per year (for a total of $1,060 per year or $88.33 per month for a 2,000 square foot house) while owners of new homes paid $.38 per square foot per year ($760 per year or $63.33 per month).

And new homes that are ENERGY STAR® certified strive to be 30% more energy efficient than typical new homes. Using our example “new” 2,000 square foot home which could cost $1,300 per year in electricity, a comparable ENERGY STAR® certified home may cost $910 in electricity per year.

There are currently over 550 listings in the Tri-Cities which were built between 2009-2013 (classified as “new construction”). If you are in the market for a new home, an existing lovingly “used” home, or if you want to start completely from scratch and create something all yours, you owe it to yourself to learn your options and determine the best fit for you – and your budget. We can help! Please call Jessica at (509) 947-2230 or Jennifer at (509) 947-5670. We can show you all the costs and benefits of buying a used home versus buying a new home.

ENERGY STAR® certified homes – leading the way in smart new home construction

Energy Star Logo

You might have heard the term ENERGY STAR® in the context of new home construction and assumed the reference was regarding the appliances or lighting. However, did you know that some builders who are focused on developing more energy-efficient building science are building entire homes that carry the ENERGY STAR® seal of approval? These homes are built to standards which well exceed other homes on the market today. Typically, these homes are more than 30% more energy efficient as compared to an average new home.

In the Tri-Cities, there are 17 ENERGY STAR® “Builder Partners” – builders who are committed to building at least one new ENERGY STAR® certified home every 12 months. Devoted Builders is pleased to be one of those few builders and to have built 79 of the 893 ENERGY STAR® certified homes in the Tri-Cities.

According to the ENERGY STAR® website, www.energystar.gov, ENERGY STAR® certified homes built in 2011 are the equivalent of:

  • Eliminating emissions from 117 vehicles
  • Saving 705,432 lbs of coal
  • Planting 193 acres of trees
  • Saving the environment 1,383,494 pounds of CO2

So what does it take to become an ENERGY STAR® certified home?

  • Specialty Engineering: The engineering of new home systems including heating and cooling, foundation and wall construction undergo scrutiny up front to make the most out of energy efficient advances before the foundation is even poured! ENERGY STAR® building science includes:
      • Complete thermal enclosure system  – an air-tight envelope!
      • Complete heating and cooling system – more comfortable, great air quality, and quiet operation!
      • Complete water management system – both indoors and out!
      • Energy-efficient lighting and appliances – of course!
  • Climate-Specific Recommendations: ENERGY STAR® builder partners work with a ENERGY STAR® Home Energy Rater to determine the specific energy-saving techniques and features that are most effective for each climate. For example, an area whose climate is subject to severe winds (such as ours) would require a different climate-specific energy-saving solution than one that doesn’t have a wind challenge, but extreme temperature extremes.
  • Extensive Inspections: To verify ENERGY STAR® homes meet the stringent energy efficiency requirements, Home Energy Raters conduct inspections of the homes which include a blower door test to check for an air-tight seal, duct blaster test to check for duct leakage, and a wide range of other parameters.

If you have been thinking about shrinking your carbon footprint – or just want a home with cleaner air and lower utility bills, an ENERGY STAR® home may be just what you are looking for.

Come and see the almost-complete newest ENERGY STAR® certified home in Mediterranean Villas (and learn how I.C.F. Construction is paving the way in exciting energy advancements) or come and talk with Devoted Builders and Jessica Johnson and Jennifer Cowgill with Referred Real Estate, as we can help you find the perfect lot for your custom-built ENERGY STAR® certified home.  So whether you fancy a hip urban contemporary pad or a historic-feeling home in the woods, we are a perfect match for your needs. Please give Jessica  a call at (509) 947-2230 or Jennifer at  (509) 947-5670 to learn more about your options.