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Try one of our new Construction Bargain Strategies for free. Coupon code: CBS. One strategy could save you $1,000 or $10,000 or maybe $50,000 when you build or remodel.


    12-24. Build a new house. - Electronic Edition

    12-24. Build a new house. - Electronic Edition
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From consciouschoice.com:

Systemic Problems

Residential construction is done by a score of trades. None see the house as a whole system. Roof color impacts cooling load, yet roofers don’t talk with heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) guys. Insulators don’t do air sealing, nor will framers, electricians, or plumbers, nor will the HVAC contractor. Rascals plague the industry. Insulators fluff blown-in product with air in order to use less of it. It is piled high, at least around the scuttle, but its density is low and it settles. Furnace men say a heat exchanger is cracked, terrorizing homeowners into buying a new furnace, which is then oversized. Window salesmen present new product as the solution to high bills.

Construction is undermined by the low-bid drive to the bottom. CATNAP Construction (cheapest available technology narrowly avoiding prosecution) rules. A “code” building is the least efficient that can legally be built. All builders say they build efficient homes but few if any can tell you how many Btu/sfDD they’ll use. (British thermal units per square foot of heated space per degree day.) Some will answer they can’t tell because owner operation varies. This is true, but the shell-appliance package has a number just like a car has an mpg number. A lead-footed driver won’t achieve its potential; ditto a lead-footed householder. If the thermostat is pushed to 78 degrees and never set back at night, if lights are left on, if storm windows left off, if an old fridge grinds away in the basement to chill beer — you get the idea.

In older homes, air sealing and adding insulation to walls, sill boxes, and ceilings can improve heating energy use by 20 percent. But replacing a 50 percent efficient furnace with a 92 percenter won’t remove 42 percent from the bill. In cold climates heating is about 58 percent of energy use in inefficient homes; 36 percent in efficient ones. In newer homes health and durability issues tend to dominate. Air leaking through and around ceiling can lights condenses on roof sheathing. Mold grows, wood rots. Ditto air leaks in sill box corners. Air leaks from attached garages allow carbon monoxide (CO) into negatively pressurized basements. Then the furnace fan goes on, distributing CO into the house.

More than 70% of all housing units in this country were built before 1980. One biggie is the fact that you get new appliances, and you should look for the Energy Star ratings. We compared our house on its tenth anniversary to five houses whose energy use was profiled for AARP Bulletin December, 2005.

     House Age      Location      Fuel      Annual Cost      Sq. Footage      $/SF
     174                  NY              Oil        $1,800               1,800                $1.00
     22                    NJ               Gas       $3,000               5,200                $0.58
     90                   OR               Gas       $1,116               2,300                $0.49
     100                 OH              Gas        $2,100               1,800                $1.17
     90                   MN             Gas        $1,954               1,340                $1.46
Average:
     95                                                    $1,994                2,488                $.94

Riverbottoms house:
    10                    UT              Gas       $828                   3,500                 $0.24

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