Brand-new homes are saving Bay Area residents a whole lot of money.
“Wait. … What?” That’s right. It’s a concept that seems difficult to grasp in our hot real estate market. But when it comes to day-to-day living and month-to-month bills, a new home is the smartest choice for curbing the household’s out-of-pocket energy costs.
“It all falls under the bigger umbrella of why it’s better to consider a new home over a resale, even if the resale home is only 5 or 10 years old,” says Michael Van Daele, chief operating officer of Riverside-based Van Daele Homes, which has new homes for sale or coming soon in Castro Valley, Morgan Hill and Lathrop. “New homes are built to more efficiently maintain a temperature, whether warmer or cooler, based on the outside temperature.” Van Daele noted that the cost to heat or cool a 10-year-old home can be almost double the cost to heat or cool a brand new home of the same size.
The question is, how can the new-home buyer know what to ask regarding energy efficiency? Several energy-saving features of new homes, after all, are not even visible, especially to the untrained eye. Before visiting new homes, it’s wise to learn what to look for or what to ask about regarding energy-saving features:
Radiant-barrier sheathing: “This is one of the least visible to the naked eye,” Van Daele said. “Radiant-barrier roof sheathing repels the sun’s heat away from the attic, which keeps the whole house cooler.”
Insulation: Again, it might not occur to the buyer to ask about what they can’t see. In many new homes, insulation densities are now much higher, which improves temperature regulation in the home.
Solar: Included in the new 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards adopted his year, the state of California requires that, by the year 2020, all new homes must include solar photovoltaic systems. While many builders have already included solar solutions as a standard practice, it’s important for buyers to know that they do have choices on the level of solar they want to take advantage of as well as whether they want to rent or purchase their energy storage system.
Appliances: Ask if your new home will include Energy Star-rated appliances, especially refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, furnaces, water heaters and air conditioners.
Windows: Low-E Argon gas-filled windows save energy and add comfort by keeping the heat or the cold on the outside of the house, where it belongs.
Ventilation: Did you know that the ducting and ventilation of your home play as important a part in energy savings and comfort as do energy-efficient windows, furnaces and air-conditioning systems? “All of our new homes have to be tested for airtight ducting,” Van Daele explained. Any leaks in the ducts could compromise the energy efficiency.
Multi-zoned HVAC: Additionally, Van Daele said that most of his company’s new homes are built with at least two HVAC zones. “The placement of the zones varies by home size and floor plan layout,” he said. “We also typically outfit the guest suite with its own heating and cooling.” Furthermore, it might not be unheard of for a builder to design a large single-level home that includes three separate HVAC zones.
Hot water: “Most new-home buyers expect tankless water heaters now,” Van Daele said. Some of them, he said, already adopted tankless water heaters at their previous homes. The benefits of tankless water heaters are many, including energy savings, water savings, and simple comfort and convenience. “With a tankless water heater, you’re only heating and using the water that you need.”
“We survey all of our buyers on their satisfaction with our homes and their experience, including whether the energy efficiency meets their expectations,” Van Daele said. “In response, we’ve even heard from some people that their new, bigger house is more efficient than the smaller home they used to live in.”
Given the growing number of energy-efficient features of new homes, the key is preparation. Buyers who are educated before looking at homes will know what to ask sales representatives, designers and builders. Some features may be standard with construction; some may be upgrades. And with the way building techniques are so rapidly improving, some features may be available today that might not have been possible yesterday.
Published at Tue, 02 Oct 2018 11:15:56 +0000