What is Emobodied Energy?

Embodied energy is the energy required to extract, process, manufacture, transport, and install building materials. A typical building of the mid-20th century required the equivalent of five to 15 gallons of gasoline per square foot. . “Old buildings are a fossil fuel repository,” as Michael Jackson, an architect with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, put it, “places where we’ve saved energy.”

Purchasing an older home IS the greenest home.

Foot for foot, it takes about 13 years to recoup lost energy, for a new, environmentally efficient home. However, since most new homes are much larger than older homes, the time to recoup the lost energy is closer to 25 years.

Once you work embodied energy into your energy budget, even a new, energy-efficient office building doesn’t actually start saving energy for about 40 years.  The break-even period stretches to close to 65 years for older buildings to account for the energy to knock them down the building and haul them away.

An older home usually means a larger lot closer to town with established landscaping.  In our area, buying an older home also increases your chance of being near mass transit to Chapel Hill, Durham, UNC or Duke.  Getting rid of one of your cars frees up money for fun and is just one less thing to worry about.

Go green!

Why is Wood the Green Building Material of Choice?

Wood has a low embodied energy and an added bonus is it is a major part of any carbon-management strategy since trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow. While it does need to be harvested, milled and transported to site, the resources and energy required are much less than the manufacture of fiber cement or PVC siding. Locally harvested woods like cypress, pine and poplar not only use less energy, they keep jobs in North Carolina.

What about maintenance?  Well, vinyl has proved it is not final and it lowers the appraisal of your home.  Fiber cement does not need to be painted as often as wood, however staining wood with either a semi-transparent or opaque stain solves the painting issue with wood.  Two coats of stain on cypress siding can last up to 12 years or more.

As energy prices rise, using wood makes more and more sense and cents!

Home Automation to Save $$ On Energy – You Can Start Small

Home automation can be affordable!

The most basic and inexpensive device — a programmable thermostat — can cut energy costs. Programming to set the temperature back 10 to 15 percent for eight hours a day (from 72 to 65 degrees F in the winter, for example) can save up to 15 percent annually on your heating bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Your own routine and seasonal shifts of schedules with heating/cooling control, can increase your savings further.

Technology is changing so fast that digital and wireless automated systems cost a fraction of what they did a few years ago, yet they offer the same or even better functionality. Programmable thermostat costs anywhere from about $30 to about $100. Whole-house automation systems can range from about $5,000 to about $30,000 depending on the size of your home and the complexity of the system.  Yet, a simple start up package are well under $2000.

Outline your objectives for a system and evaluate the initial cost, the expected return on investment, the ability to upgrade or expand the system, and the ease of use.  For additional information:

Thermostats and Control Systems

U.S. Department of Energy