Energy-Efficient Construction

Energy efficiency has become an important factor for many new homebuyers. So you think most newly constructed homes would have a variety of energy savings features, but how do you really know for sure? What should you look for? What questions should you ask? And how do you know the information you're given is reliable? The good news is, there is a way for you to be sure the information you are being told is not only reliable, it is measurable.

If you're shopping for a newly constructed home, ask the builder about the home's HERS score. It stands for Home Energy Rating System and it measures the energy efficiency of a home. The lower the HERS score, the greater the efficiency and energy savings. One advantage of the HERS score is it's governed by an independent, third party organization called RESNET, the residential energy services network, so you know the rating is unbiased.

Most energy efficient features are hidden in the design and construction of a home so the HERS score provides a little piece of mind when it comes to the real energy performance of a new home. A HERS rater will work with the builder during the design phase, perform inspections and diagnostic tests during construction, and test again upon completion.

The HERS rater is looking for many factors that can impact a home's energy efficiency.

One of them is windows. High-efficiency windows block 70% or more of incoming solar heat and provide great insulation in the winter.

Another factor includes household appliances. Appliances account for nearly one fifth of an average household's energy use, so investing in Energy Star Certified qualified products can result in significant savings.

Don't overlook lighting. Energy Star Certified LEDs use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs.

Considering your water heater is the second largest energy user in the home. A high efficiency water heater can save a lot of money and energy.

And the biggest energy user in the home is your heating and cooling system. An energy efficient electric heat pump is one of the most efficient ways to heat and cool your home. But to keep that conditioned air where it will keep you and your family comfortable year-round, a home needs to be properly insulated and the ductwork needs to be tightly sealed and insulated. The HERS rater performs a leakage test to ensure this has been done properly.

Then there are the little things like sealing outlets and gaps between moldings, plumbing, chimneys and walls. We call it infiltration control; and those little things can make a big difference. These leaks are collectively measured by another one of the HERS diagnostic tests.

While all these individual features are important, it's how they work collectively that really impacts the efficiency of a home--It's called a whole house approach to energy efficiency. It incorporates the design, the materials, the construction and the individual features which reduce your energy bills and provide improved comfort.

So remember, when it comes to energy efficiency, all new homes are not created equal. Ask your builder or real estate professional about a Georgia Power EarthCents New Home. Each of them has been evaluated by a HERS rater so you know the energy performance has been validated. These homes have been built for quality, comfort and energy savings.

Helping you make smart energy choices... that's Georgia Power.