Archive for the ‘Eco-friendly choices’ category

Ten Steps to Zero Energy Home

September 21st, 2015

Ten Steps to Zero Energy Home - Inside a Zero Energy Home - Connaughton ConstructionThe ten steps to zero energy home is a lifestyle change.

1. Energy Audit

After you conduct an energy audit, you are ready for an architect or engineer that can put the plans on paper. The  architect or engineer takes all of the specifications from the energy audit and integrates them into a complete design document. This helps the contractors and subcontractors in making their estimates and completing the work.

From the very beginning, and throughout the retrofitting process, the homeowner, energy consultant, the contractor and the architect or engineer work as a team to make the transition possible.

2. Super Seal the Building

Create an air tight barrier on all six sides of the home. Air tightening the shell of your home; the floors, ceilings, windows, doors, outlets and walls. A blower door test will identify air leaks during the testing. Use transparent caulking while a blower door is running to seal all air leaks. Lowering the Air Changes per Hour to near 2 ACH is a common goal for a full zero net energy remodel.

3. Super Insulate

The building envelope of a house consists of its roof, sub floor, exterior doors, windows and of course the exterior walls. A tight building is preferable in cooler climates.

Adding blown-in ceiling insulation,  floor insulation and basement wall insulation is an easy and relatively inexpensive measure. This is where the R-value matters.

How well insulation works is expressed by its R-value, which measures resistance to the flow of heat. The higher the R-value, the better it insulates per inch of thickness. How much is enough?

The Attic Insulation: The amount of insulation recommended for homes in the northeast is a minimum of R-50 in the attic, which is equivalent to approximately 16″ of fiberglass insulation. Warmer climates only require an R-38 or higher, or about 12″.

Wall Insulation: While wall insulation is limited by the width of the studs, different materials provide higher or lower R-values. Fiberglass batts for standard 2×4 walls are now available in low, medium, and high density products that range from R-11 to R-15. Sprayed foam insulation in the same wall cavity can range from an R-14 to an R-28 depending on the product that is used.

Floor Insulation: While there are additional considerations—such as venting and moisture problems—to take into account when you insulate under floors, the United States Department of Energy recommends an R-25 rating in cold climates and an R-11 in warmer parts of the country.

4. Use Highly Insulated Windows and Doors

Installing U-value storm windows can save up to 20% of the heat lost through the windows. The U-value of a window is the insulation value or measurement. The lower the u-value the better the insulation value of that window.

Low U-value windows for energy efficiency in zero energy homes - Connaughton ConstructionSelecting windows for energy efficiency is easier with the new window technologies available to homeowners, architects and builders. There are three major types of energy flow that occur through windows: (1) non solar heat losses and gains in the form of conduction, convection, and radiation; (2) solar heat gains in the form of radiation; and (3) airflow, both intentional (ventilation) and unintentional (infiltration). The U-value is a measure of the rate of non-solar heat flow through a window or skylight.  Buy lower U-factors windows for reducing heat flow.

5. Use the Sun for Electricity and Hot Water

Installing a solar hot water system or a heat pump hot water heater will reduce hot water costs. Adding low flow showerheads and faucets will help reduce hot water use.

Turning off and unplugging all electronics when not in use. Using energy strips for all electronics will make it easy to disconnect them when not in use.

6. Create an Energy Efficient, Fresh Air Supply and Manage Humidity

Plan for and manage moisture. As you seal up the holes, or insulate crawl spaces you also need to manage the moisture that goes along with insulating. Installing a highly efficient Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) or Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) system will help provide fresh filtered air.

In most homes, especially airtight homes, indoor winter humidity should be 30% or below, to avoid possible condensation problems. An HRV helps lower indoor humidity more effectively, when the outside humidity is low. The use of vapor barrier paint on the interior of the sheet rock will help prevent moisture from penetrating the wall assembly. Moving the air regularly with either type of ventilation system will help prevent mold.

7. Use an Energy Efficient Heating and Cooling System

Installing a ductless heat pump mini-split heating and air conditioning system, is very energy efficient and easy to install.

Install programmable thermostats that reduce the heat when you are away and increase heat when you return.

8. Install Energy Efficient Lighting.

For lighting, high efficiency LEDs lightbulbs in light fixtures that get the most use.

9. Select Energy Efficient Appliances and Electronics

All appliances having the Energy Star label have been deemed energy efficient by government standards.

10. Install Smart Meter

A smart meter is the communication gateway between the utility company and the home.

Request a Consultation with Connaughton Construction for your project. Call 781-899-1438, ext. 14 for John. There never was a better time to enjoy your outdoor space.

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Net Zero Energy Home

July 24th, 2015

Is there a Net Zero Energy Home in your future?

Net Zero Energy Home by Connaughton ConstructionAre you thinking about buying or building a new home? Would you consider buying a home that comes with zero energy bills and zero carbon emissions? A Net Zero Energy Home is so energy-efficient. The sun provides all the energy you will ever need each year. You could be pocketing thousands of dollars in energy savings, while you’re protecting the environment.

What is a Net Zero Energy Home?

A Net Zero Energy Home is a home that produce as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year.

Is a Net Zero Energy Home more expensive?

A Net Zero Energy Home costs about 5-6% more when you utilize all the energy incentives that are available today. They are market comparable and you can get all the luxuries that you normally would expect in a conventional home  as well as having zero energy bills. There are tax incentives and rebates.
A Net Zero Energy Home appraise for more than a conventional home. You’ll want to use a green certified appraiser.
How much does it cost to be connected to the heat grid? There is a $10 a month cost to be connected to the energy grid. At the end of the month, your energy bill is zero. How’s that for those of us who struggle to pay our energy bills every month? A home owner with Net Zero Energy homes are producing more energy then they’re using so they have energy to give folks who are struggling with their winter heating bill. This is an opportunity to help others.

Aside from the Energy Savings What makes a Net Zero Energy Home so desirable?

When you build a Net Zero Energy Home  you integrate a lot of things into the shell and into the interior of the home. It’s well lit. It’s healthy living. It’s well ventilated with fresh air. And at the end of the year your energy bill is zero.
From designers and builders of Net Zero Energy Homes, they will tell you these homes are, from the outside, the same as many other homes. You’ll see the solar thermal collectors, the solar electric collectors on the roof. Once you get inside the home, the exterior walls are quite a bit thicker. The heating and cooling systems are a lot more efficient than your typical system of other homes. Many of the other parts and pieces; the appliances have been specifically chosen for these homes to lower the energy bill to zero as best possible.
To potential buyers of Net Zero Energy Homes. You are insulating yourself from the rise of energy costs. You are protecting your investment. The home will sell for more and it will sell faster on the market. Home owners of Net Zero Energy Homes state they love it because there are no drafts in the middle of winter. Fresh filtered air is circulated continuously. Best of all having zero carbon emissions is healthier for the planet and healthier for future generations.
Conventional homes consume close to 30% of the nation’s energy. That’s a lot of carbon emissions. A Net Zero Energy Home is so achievable. Why not? Why not do this for the environment and our grandchildren? Zero energy bills. Zero carbon emissions and a healthier home.

Zero Energy Homes Raise the Bar for Home Construction

Find a Net Zero Energy Home Builder in the Boston area by Contact Connaughton Construction about Net Zero Energy Homes today! or Call 781-899-1438, ext. 14 for John. There never was a better time for all of us to “think global and act local.”

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Save Millions with Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

June 30th, 2015

The last time I had to buy new light bulbs, I thought I knew what I was doing. Before leaving home, I noted the wattage and the type of light bulb. I get to Home Depot only to find there’s an entire aisle of light bulbs from which to choose. I walk up and down the aisle at least three times. I caved, turned to someone who looked like they worked at Home Depot(wearing the Home Depot apron), “Excuse me sir, can you please help me pick out a light bulb?” Seriously, it was embarrassing.

save Millions with Energy Efficient Light Bulbs Connaughton Construction

Choices for Light bulbs

We’ve narrowed it down to the Light Emitting Diode (LED) and Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) bulbs and Incandescent light bulbs.

How to buy light bulbs

When buying a light bulb we often buy based on the wattage. But the wattage is actually a measure of electricity, not the brightness of a bulb. The amount of light a bulb generates is measured in lumens.

An incandescent 60-watt bulb, for example, gives off 800 lumens of light. An LED light bulb can deliver the same amount of light using as little as 10 watts. Since an LED draws on less electricity, it is less expensive to run. CFL light bulbs gives off 800 lumens using 15 watts.

You can buy an 8 watt LED light bulb¹ for $4.97. It’ll  use about 329 KWH over the course of one year. You can expect to pay your utility company $32.85. LED light bulbs have a 20 year life span.

An Incandescent light bulb using 60 watts or 3,285 KWH per year with a life span of about 1 year,  and you can expect to pay $328.59 per year.

A CFL light bulb costs about $5.97, delivers 8,000 hours of light, uses 14 watts or 767 KWH per year and you can expect to pay $76.65 per year. CFL light bulbs have an estimated life span of 9 years. Some CFL bulbs can be used with dimmer switches.

Energy Star Light bulbs can save millions

The Environmental Protection Agency says that if every household replaced just one incandescent bulb with an “Energy Star”-rated LED or CFL (compact fluorescent), we would save close to $700 million per year in energy costs.

Is it any wonder we as consumers are confused about which light bulb we should buy? There are so many types of bulbs with different price points and life spans now on the market.

For even more information about light bulbs — the different types available, how long they last and what they cost over the life of the bulb — check out our guide to changing light bulbs¹.

Save Millions with Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

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 Phantom Screens

The Benefits of Solar Panels for Homeowners

October 9th, 2014

Benefits of Solar Panelssolar panels

Solar Panels provide energy savings through lower electric bills. You can save  25 percent or more annually on your utility bill and avoid unpredictable rate hikes that can be 6 percent. In a recent Boston Globe article both NSTAR and National Grid announced winter rate hikes that will average about 10%.

Solar Panels increase home values

For every $1,000 annual reduction in your utility costs, the value of the home increases by an estimated $20,000. Here’s another way to look at it: Homeowners recoup 97 percent of the investment it takes to go solar while those who upgrade their kitchen get back about 60 percent of their investment.

Solar Panels have environmental benefits

A solar PV(photovoltaic) system that provides about half of a household’s electrical use eliminates CO2 emissions equivalent to operating two fossil-fuel burning cars for almost 30 years.

Reducing the electricity we draw from the grid means reducing carbon emissions. This results in cleaner air, cleaner water and cleaner soil for your family and community, for generations.

Solar Panels Create Jobs

Solar jobs come in many forms, from manufacturing, installing, monitoring and maintaining solar panels, to research and design, development, cultural integration, and policy jobs. Choosing to go solar helps the economy as well as your wallet.

Solar Panels Have Buying and Leasing options

Buying requires an upfront investment, and you can start saving money immediately by taking advantage of the various incentives and rebate programs available to you. You also get a warranty on your panels.

With Leasing, you don’t have to worry about maintaining, repairing or insuring your panels. There’s usually no initial cost with leasing. You also buy energy at a lower rate than if you received it from the electric companies, so you save money right away.

Most home solar power systems last between 25 and 35 years, and there’s no maintenance needed. Rain and melting snow keep the panels clean and operating efficiently.

Contact Connaughton Construction

to discuss whether solar panels are a good choice for your home. Set up your personal Consultation. If you prefer to talk to someone on the phone, please call John with Connaughton Construction at 781-899-1438 x 14 or Ellen at x13.

Get quarterly up-to-date information on other environmentally savvy home renovations.
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August 7th, 2014

#1 Reclaimed wood flooring

What is Reclaimed Wood Flooring?

Reclaimed Wood FlooringReclaimed Wood Flooring is Eco Friendly Choices for Building and Remodeling. How? Because it is processed wood retrieved from its original application and reused. Most reclaimed lumber comes from timbers and decking rescued from old barns, factories and warehouses. Some companies use wood from less traditional structures such as boxcars, coal mines and wine barrels. Reclaimed or antique lumber is used primarily for decoration and home building. For example as siding, architectural details, cabinetry, furniture and flooring.

Reclaimed lumber is popular for many reasons: the wood’s unique appearance, its contribution to green building, the history of the wood’s origins, and the wood’s physical characteristics such as strength, stability and durability. The increased strength of reclaimed wood is often attributed to the lack of air pollution that existed up until the 20th century as well as to the wood’s often having been harvested from virgin growth timber, which had hundreds of years to grow before human intervention.

Reclaimed beams can be sawn into wider planks than newly harvested lumber, and many companies claim that their products are more stable than newly cut wood because reclaimed wood has been exposed to changes in humidity for far longer and is therefore more stable. This stability allows it to be used with radiant heating systems. In some cases, the timbers from which the boards were cut had been naturally expanding and contracting for over a century in their previous installation. Radiant heat, with its low temperatures and even distribution affects the wood flooring the same way, but the impact is much less dramatic with antique wood than newly sawn wood because antique wood has already been through this cycle for years.

Next monthIdeas for selecting reclaimed wood flooring in your home or office.

#2 Caesarstone quartz countertops to create truly unique environments

Caesarstone, another Eco Friendly Choices for Building and Remodeling, is a beautifully engineered quartz stone which comprises approximately 93% natural quartz. Practical, durable, and attractive it has significant advantages over natural stone and other surfacing materials due to its superior strength and quality. Caesarstone’s quartz surfaces retain the cool, tactile qualities of natural stone while enabling the user with a durable work surface designed for ease and convenience.CaesarStone™ quartz countertops for your home

Quartz is ideal for virtually any interior work surface. The applications can extend to your kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, backsplashes, wall paneling, commercial interiors, furniture and flooring. 

Caesarstone’s quartz surfaces never need sealing and require minimal maintenance to keep them looking like new. The hard, non-penetrable surface makes cleaning simple and in most cases, soap and water or a mild detergent are all that are required to maintain its lustre.

Next Month … Choosing colors, textures and exploring applications of caesarstone quartz countertops.

#3 Low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) Paints; something’s in the air

How is Low VOC Paint an Eco Friendly Choice for Building and Remodeling? It helps reduce emissions that pollute, which helps improve air quality. paint-related products are one of the worst environmental offenders. They’re the second largest source of VOC emissions into the atmosphere after automobiles, responsible for roughly 11 billion pounds every year. Low VOC Paints - Eco Friendly choices for Building and Remodeling

Household paint contains up to 10,000 chemicals, of which 300 are known toxins and 150 have been linked to cancer. Some of the most harmful chemicals found in paint are VOCs. These chemicals aren’t something you want to spray on your body or potentially even keep inside your house.

VOCs are unstable, carbon-containing compounds that readily vaporize into the air. When they enter the air, they react with other elements to produce ozone, which causes air pollution and a host of health issues including breathing problems, headache, burning, watery eyes and nausea. Some VOCs have been linked to cancer, as well as kidney and liver damage.

As paint dries, the harmful VOCs release into the air at high levels. Indoor VOC levels are routinely 10 times higher than outdoor levels, and up to 1,000 times higher immediately after painting. Although VOC levels are highest during and soon after painting, they continue seeping out for several years. In fact, only 50 percent of the VOCs may be released in the first year.

They are most well-known for the harm they can cause indoors, where they can be introduced via paint, carpets, furnishings, and cleaning agents.

5 Eco Friendly Choices for Building and Remodeling Part 1 of 2

5 Eco Friendly Choices for Building and Remodeling Part 2 of 2

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Do you have your own stairway design and need the hand of an experienced custom home builder?

Contact Connaughton Construction to discuss your luxury design project.

Set up your personal Design Consultation.

If you prefer to talk to someone on the phone, please call John with Connaughton Construction at 781-899-1438 x 14 or  Ellen at x13.

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August 1st, 2014

#4 Icynene Spray Foam Insulation

Discover how Icynene Insulation is an eco-friendly choice when building and remodeling

Icynene insulation is aicynene spray foam insulation. Eco-friendly choices when building and remodeling spray foam insulation for residential and commercial buildings. This material both insulates and air seals in one step. Sealing air gaps keeps moisture out preventing mold issues. It can be used in vented attics, unvented attics, internal walls, external walls, crawl spaces, cathedral ceilings, bonus rooms, and basements. Icynene spray foam insulation can adhere to most substrates, including steel, wood, concrete, and masonry.

ICYNENE spray foam insulation helps create healthier, more energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings. Icynene spray foam insulation is effective in any climate to benefit homeowners in energy efficiency, noise reduction, moisture control and improved indoor air quality.

Have any questions? Speak to a licensed Icynene contractor for how Icynene can be applied within your project. There are residential codes associated with Spray Foam Insulation. Connaughton Construction knows the most recent building codes and has the most recent information to share with you.  Icynene Spray Foam Insulation, another one of the eco-friendly choices when building and remodeling. A green building product for today’s home.

In Massachusetts, NSTAR and Columbia Gas give rebates for Icynene spray foam insulation for air duct sealing, attic ceiling insulation, floor insulation, foundation insulation and more. Call Connaughton Construction with more questions. They have the details for you.

#5 Solar Panels

Solar Panels provide energy savings, lower electric bills, increase home values, have environmental benefits. Leasing options are now available with no initial cost. Tax credits are available when you purchase the panels. Lock in 20 year rates. Another eco-friendly choice when building and remodeling.

Environmental benefits of Solar Panels

Renewable Energy is Great for the Planet

Converting to solar eSolar Panels - Eco-friendly choices when building and remodelingnergy is the biggest personal change you can make to fight global warming. Utility companies supply over 70% of electricity in the U.S. by burning fossil fuels—the leading cause of climate change. Generating electric power causes over a third of all green house gas emissions in the United States (source: Environmental Protection Agency). Reducing the electricity we draw from the grid means reducing carbon emissions. That means cleaner air, cleaner water and cleaner soil for your family, community, for generations to come.

Future Article – Benefits of Solar Panels 

Part 1 of 2 Reclaimed wood flooring, Caesarstone quartz countertops, Low VOC Paints

Sign Up Here for The Builders Notebook Newsletter.

Do you have your own stairway design and need the hand of an experienced custom home builder?

Contact Connaughton Construction to discuss your luxury design project.

Set up your personal Design Consultation.

If you prefer to talk to someone on the phone, please call John with Connaughton Construction at 781-899-1438 x 14 or  Ellen at x13.

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