What makes a house energy efficient?
What does an energy-efficient home mean to the end consumer? Well, I can tell you that it represents a healthy home. It also means saving money each month off of your utility bill. But let me tell you what it means to me to have an energy-efficient home. It's my passion. I have been doing this my entire adult life.
We're able to deliver houses to our customers that not only save money, but we know that they're healthier for them. We make sure that there's no chance of water getting into the wall. Here's something that a lot of builders do around Southern Utah, is when they install stucco, there's usually rigid foam that's on the exterior of the home. And they put that under the stucco only. On a Choice Builders house, we put that under all of our siding because it's really a thermal break. And how that relates to health is, it keeps the moist, warm air inside your home ever from touching the outside of your siding and condensing and creating little water pockets inside the walls
Those are the sorts of details that we pay attention to make sure our houses are healthy and that they're energy efficient. And we have all of our models certified by an independent verifier that it's installed properly, that meet the rigorous standards of the program, and that we're doing the absolute best we can for our customers.
How can I have lots of windows and still have an energy efficient home?
Sometimes when people walk through our homes, they're confused about how it can have so many windows and yet claim to be energy efficient. And it all goes down to the details of how we build the windows. We will design the windows specifically to be energy efficient for Northern climates, which are different than any other climate zone in the United States.
So in the summertime, our windows will reflect the heat energy from the sun outside, keeping the heat out. Yet in the wintertime, when that sun's angle is lower in the sky, it lets that heat energy into the house, so you're getting the benefit of warming sun in the wintertime. So our windows are really dual purpose. Not only are they beautiful in letting the light in, but they're also explicitly designed to be energy efficient and keep your home comfortable.
How do you insulate houses for the best energy efficiency?
Most people ask me how I insulate my home, and we start with the wall. And when we place our insulation, we take care to make sure that it's done right. We use a blown-in product, ensuring that all the nooks and crannies are full of insulation and keep that wall tight and well insulated. And then, before we paint, we seal all the outlets, light switches, and all the lights that come through the ceiling. So no air can come through that.
Basically, at the end of the day, our walls are independently inspected and proven to be better built and better insulated than most other builders because we take time to pay attention to the details.
Will my house be designed so that I can age in place?
Universal Design, also known as Aging in Place, is a way to approach the design of our houses that allows people to live gracefully in their homes for a long time. Some people try to replicate this by doing things such as no steps into the house. However, what we do goes way beyond that. And Choice Builders is trained and certified to properly design a home to universal design.
A few of the features are, not only when you walk into the house, is it going to be no steps and easy to walk in, but it's also going to be no steps into the shower. Or what about wider doorways or wider doors? Or here's something that most people don't think about, levers on the doors because when you have arthritic hands, you can't grab the knob to turn the knob. But then, for those of us who don't have arthritis, aren't they handy when you're carrying groceries? You can get that with your elbow. So, Universal Design is all about making your house easier to live in and more convenient. Choice Builders specializes in and incorporates Universal Design features into every one of our houses.
How can a house be designed for optimal comfort?
It means a great deal to us that our customers enjoy their houses. We build comfortable houses. That starts at the very beginning when we're designing the house. We pay attention to the heating and the cooling system. We don't use general rules of thumb to decide how big or how small heating and cooling should be. We design the system specifically for the house. We consider the insulation, the windows, the solar exposure, all of these things to ensure that we're delivering the right amount of heat or cooling to each and every room. So, you can be in your bedroom and walk into the kitchen. You can be on the sunny side of the house or the shady side of your house, and it's going to be comfortable. It will be the right temperature you set on your thermostat because it's important to us. We want you to enjoy your home.
How can I be certain that my house is a healthy place to live?
Sometimes people ask me what makes a Choice Builders house a healthy house. It's how we pay attention to the things that go into building your home. You may have heard of VOCs or volatile organic compounds. That is the off-gassing of adhesives, glues, paints, and carpets, which cure and emit a chemical odor into the air. You may have walked into a house on occasion and smelled sort of that chemical smell and wondered what that is. In most new houses, it's that very thing, chemicals as they come out of the curing compounds, whether it's carpet or paint.
A Choice Builders house is a healthy house. We only use certified products with zero or low VOC. So what's that mean to you? That means you don't have to worry about your children having asthma attacks from VOCs that irritate nasal passages and trigger asthma attacks.
Will I get a home with everything I want, the way I want it?
What's important to us is our clients and what our clients want. We're here to be the guide. We help you make the right decisions for you. Not the right choices for us or the right choices for other people, but we want to build your unique home the way you want to, and we go to great lengths to take care of that for you and with you. We understand that a home is more than just a house. We understand that the process of building your house is sometimes as important to you as the house itself. So when we're all finished, we're here to help you guide you, and make it as enjoyable of a process as possible.
How will I know what's happening each day during the building process?
Having your home built can be frustrating, and it's important to us that you don't feel frustrated with your Choice Builder's home. We have a client portal that you can log into from anywhere in the world and look at the progress of your house. You can see the daily reports, progress photos, and what's happening on your house. You can look at the schedule and see what will happen today, tomorrow, or in the coming weeks because we want you to have control. We want you to be able to understand the entire process and enjoy building your house. It's important to you. And it's important to us.
What difference does it make to live in an ENERGY STAR Certified home?
Buying a new home is a big decision. What if there was a way to be sure that even things you can't see behind the walls have been done right? What if all you had to look for was this, the label that says this new home is Energy Star Certified?
The Energy Star label means that hundreds of critical details have been inspected and verified to meet strict energy efficiency requirements set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Requirements that give you a complete thermal enclosure system with thorough sealing of air leaks, quality installed insulation, and high-performance windows.
There's a high-efficiency heating, ventilation, and cooling system for optimal comfort and lower utility bills all year. There's a comprehensive water management system for advanced protection from moisture damage. And, of course, energy-efficient lighting and appliances provide low energy costs and great performance.
It all adds up to a home that's built better and uses up to 30% less energy than a typical home, saving you thousands of dollars over your years of ownership while helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
What is the HERS Index and why is it important?
High energy bills can be a major barrier to buying a new home, but not if you opt for an energy-efficient one. So what defines a home as energy efficient, and how can you tell if one home is more energy-efficient than the other? It can be confusing. Fortunately, there's a tool that can help you. The Home Energy Rating System Index, better known as the HERS Index, developed by the Residential Energy Services Network, or RESNET, and used by home builders to demonstrate a home's total energy efficiency.
The HERS Index offers an easy-to-understand approach to measuring energy efficiency. It assigns a numerical value to a home, a HERS Index score based on its overall energy performance. The lower the score, the more energy-efficient the home, and the less you pay for energy bills. The HERS Index Score is the one number that tells you all you need to know about a home's total energy performance. It's like a miles-per-gallon sticker for houses.
How it works is an independent and certified RESNET HERS rater inspects and tests the home's energy features. The information is entered into sophisticated HERS rating software, which issues a HERS Index score. The lower the HERS Index score, the lower the energy cost. The lower the score, the better. It's that simple. With one number, you can compare homes and identify ways to improve an existing home's energy performance. So before you buy that new home, be a smart home buyer and ask for the HERS Index score.