Power Puzzles: Decoding Energy Efficiency in Your Home

As home builders we talk about energy efficiency all the time; you read about it in the news; you hear it on the TV. But the topic of energy efficiency is more complex than you might think (to see the differences in cost for new construction homes and resale homes read more here).

The most familiar efficiency standard is set by Energy STAR. They are “a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency…Now in its 20th year, the ENERGY STAR program has boosted the adoption of energy efficient products, practices, and services through valuable partnerships, objective measurement tools, and consumer education” (read more).

1If you know Energy STAR you probably know what you need to in order to size up your house for efficiency. And while we know energy efficiency means lower bills, many of us also want to ensure it translates into tax relief as well. The IRS has expanded its credits for homeowners based on Energy STAR standards as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

These are the relevant deductions you have plenty of time to prepare for for your 2014 taxes next year:

1. Residential Energy Property Credit This tax credit is for homeowners who make qualified energy efficient improvements to their existing homes. The credit applies to improvements such as adding insulation, energy efficient exterior windows and energy-efficient heating and air conditioning systems.

2. Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit This tax credit will help individual taxpayers pay for qualified residential alternative energy equipment, such as solar hot water heaters, solar electricity equipment and wind turbines.

The benefit for our clients is that Stackman Custom Homes builds all their homes with these standards already in mind, as do our subcontractors. However, owners of resale homes can also benefit greatly by ensuring they update their home. If you’re wondering what your home’s energy score is so you can consider deductions this year, click below to take a quiz:

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In With the New: Data Shows New Construction is Far Less Expensive to Maintain

Invariably newer items function better and more efficiently than older ones. But did you know this goes for houses too? And you might be surprised at just how much better and more efficient they actually are.

In a time of constantly increasing utility and home maintenance bills, homeowners in new construction enjoy a considerable reprieve. The National Association for Home Builders (NAHB) shows us just how much with a few stats:

  • ROUTINE MAINTENANCE | 26% of resale homeowners spent $100 or more a month while only 11% of new construction homeowners spent the same. In fact, 73% of them spent $25 or less.
  • ENERGY COSTS PER SQUARE FOOT | 81 cents vs. 68 cents.
  • WATER COSTS PER SQUARE FOOT | 28 cents vs. 22 cents.
  • TRASH COSTS PER SQUARE FOOT | 15 cents vs. 13 cents.

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To see the full results visit here.

If these differences look minimal expressed in cents, think about the savings over the life of your home. And not only are your utility and maintenance bills lower, but insurance on new construction homes is also significantly less. Why? Because they require far less repairs and are less prone to damages and maintenance issues. When you think about it, not only is this saving you money but the time, frustration and effort of the kind of upkeep that older homes may require.

So while we all know that newer is generally better, we wanted to point out that these differences are just nominal or short-term. A new construction home is not only custom built for you aesthetically, it’s not only tailor-made just for you and your family, but it’s a sound long-term investment.

 

A little bit about Stackman Custom Homes…

Welcome to Stackman Custom Homes!

Greg Newhall and Gary Jones have recently retired from the home building business and John Stackman has launched a new endeavor in their wake. With his 30 years’ experience in custom home building in the Pacific Northwest, John established Stackman Custom Homes in 2013 and he continues to use the same team of quality sub-contractors, vendors, architects and designers to which homeowners have become accustomed. With the new group, he also continues the legacy of 100% transparency in the planning and building processes for homes from $100 per square foot to $500 per square foot.

Not only does John have decades of experience building in the area, but he also has a wide breadth of knowledge about the intricacies of all types of markets, from the lows of the 90′s and the drop in 2008 to the booms in between. This kind of insight allows Stackman Custom Homes to help seamlessly navigate their clients through what can otherwise be a complex process of constantly fluctuating construction prices, land availability and vendor options.

Offering peace of mind and open communication, Stackman Custom Homes with John Stackman at the helm is an ideal combination of unparalleled expertise and excellence in customer service.

To learn more about Stackman Custom Homes or to view its portfolio, please visit here.

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Micro Homes Making Big Waves

What exactly is a “micro home”? It’s exactly what it sounds like. Micro homes are generally between 150 – 350 square feet. Former storage units, shipping containers and even dumpsters are being converted into these tiny abodes along with new construction of these tiny spaces in our cities.

1Micro homes as they are emerging fall into two categories: on the one hand they are tiny spaces in response to urban growth and skyrocketing rents and on the other they are created as architectural spectacles. The former are often derided as a means to squeezing more rent out of city-dwellers, particularly in San Francisco and New York; the latter can be truly amazing, innovative and progressive pieces of functional art.

The more promising concepts of a micro home and their reality are as yet seen in these stark contrast. However, for those looking to enjoy one, their growing popularity means that in no time we’ll be seeing the convergence of both their cost-effectiveness and their aesthetic potential. In the meantime, keep an eye out for the development of this new idea because for better or worse, micro homes may be here to stay.

Warm & Dry in Wet Northwest Weather

Pacific Northwest winters can wreak havoc on your home and this winter is about to prove it will be no different. There are a few key precautions that can protect your home from the particularly wet winter we’re about to face:

1)     Water Flow | don’t use French drains or sub drains and don’t direct water toward slopes. In our area mudslides can be a problem. Though directing water down a slope may seem a good way to prevent ponding, it can actually erode carefully engineered and compacted land that is necessary for the stability of your property.

2)     Heat Retention | along with making sure any gaps or cracks in your home are completely sealed, check heating ducts as loose ducts can cause you to seep out up to 20% of your interior heat.

13)     Trees | Check your trees and trim any overhang. Falling limbs or even entire felled trees are common in our area as the ground softens with increased moisture.

4)     Street Drains | it’s not just about your home, but your whole property. Ensure your street drains are clear of leaves and other residue that could potentially cause water to back up into the street.

The two goals of weatherizing your home are safety and efficiency. Anticipating how precipitation will affect your grounds can avoid future issues. As well, taking stock of your home’s vulnerabilities when it comes to losing heat can save you quite a bit of cash in the coming months.

Should you have any questions about how to prepare your home for our upcoming winter, get in touch with us here at Encore Custom Homes. We have endless resources, vendors and information to help you face this winter head-on.