It's certainly great to build a new green home from the ground up. Several thing are necessary, Land, Money and a burning desire to do so.
What about the rest of us who live in a used home. Here are several tips that I use for my clients during and after a home inspection. My focus is on saving them money in reduced energy cost and the planet is an added bonus.
First of all the economics of energy saving. A good rule of thumb is a 10 year pay back on your energy saving investment. In other words if your annual electric bill is say $1,200.00 and you can save 10% by installing a new device like a timer on your electric water heater then the savings would be $120.00 per year. If the timer costs say $50 and the installation is $75, that's a 1 year pay back. GREAT DEAL!! Do it.
On the other hand if your heat bill is (what ever fuel) $1,500.00 per year and you have an old inefficient furnace, does it make sense to spend $3000.00 to replace it? Let's see. You could save as much as 30% on efficiency. Assuming that is correct that would save you $450.00 per year. Times 10 years that would be $4,500.00. Another good deal because you still have another 10 to 12 years of life left in the new furnace after it's paid for.
Far and away the best investment in in insulation. Keep the heat that you paid for as long as you can. It is also critical to have proper ventilation. Blocked vents cause all kinds of problems like reduced roof life, excess moisture, possibly mold, high humidity, window condensation, wood rot in the attic and window frames.
It's always best to do your home work first, then consult a professional that is trained is energy conservation science.
We'll talk about air infiltration next time.
Don't give your money away to the energy companies needlessly.