Spring Home Improvement 2012 • 3
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Our homes are a great measuringstick o how ar we’ve progressed inthe past 20 years, especially when itcomes to their efciency in terms o saving us energy and money. Hereare the top three innovative tech-nologies that can improve the ef-ciency o our homes:
* It wasn’tthat long ago that an automatedhome was a ocus o science fction.Today, adding the convenience andcontrol o our indoor climate, light-ing, electronic media and home se-curity is increasingly aordable andaccessible through home PCs, smartphone and tablet applications. Withhome monitoring systems, you cantrack energy and water usage in realtime, spot key sources o energy lossand make immediate adjustments.
* I your home is morethan 10 years old, there’s a goodchance it has fberglass or celluloseinsulation be-hind its walls.While thesewere once theinsulations o choice, thereare many holesin these tech-nologies. Sincethey are di-fcult to installperectly andcan sag or settleover time, theycan leave gapsand seams. It’slike leaving awindow open24 hours a dayin the reezingcold. * Expertsremind us that insulation advance-ments (like those rom leading in-novator Icynene) have brought usspray oam insulation options thatwon’t settle, sag or leave any gaps.Spray oam acts as an air barrierand can deliver up to 50 percent en-ergy savings over older insulationoptions, while making our homeshealthier, quieter and more comort-able. You can compare insulationoptions at www.icynene.com.
Appliances and HVAC
* Appli-ances and heating/cooling systemsare essential in American homes --and not surprisingly, they are con-stantly undergoing improvements.New energy-efcient rerigeratorsuse less than hal the energy o models that are 12 years old and use75 percent less energy than thoseproduced in the late 1970s (Source:National Resources Deense Coun-cil). * I you have a conventionalnatural-drat urnace made beore1992, it might only operate between55 to 78 percent efciency. Upgrad-ing to a new induced-drat condens-ing urnace can increase efciencyto above 90 percent as a result o more efcient heat exchangers andelectronic ignition (Source: MotherEarth News).
Advances in home automation, insulation and appliances have be-come increasingly affordable and accessible to more homeowners,saving them energy and money.
The top three innovations toimprove home efciency
All too many homeowners have experienced the joyo completing a home improvement project only to learnupon completion that the project is not in adherence withlocal laws. That realization, while heartbreaking, is otenthe result o a homeowner’s ailure to secure a buildingpermit prior to starting the project. Homeowners whosecure a permit beore the onset o a project will knowwhat they can and can’t do and can rest easy knowingthat an approved plan complies with engineering prin-ciples and local laws. Another disadvantage to orgoingthe permit process is the potential perils such a decisioncause when homeowners want to sell their homes. Proj-ects completed without a permit might hurt a home’sresale value, and such projects are not oten covered byhomeowner’s insurance policies, meaning damage toareas o the home where an illegal project was conductedwon’t be covered. While homeowners should alwayscheck with their local municipality beore starting a proj-ect, it might help to know the ollowing are a ew o themany home improvement projects that typically requirea permit beore they can go orward.* Above-ground pool * Attached storage shed * Aw-nings * Carports * Deck installation * Demolition project,interior or exterior * Fireplace addition * Garage conver-sion * Handicap ramp * Handicap restroom * In-groundpool * Patio enclosure * Patio installation * Partition wallinstallation * Porch * Retaining walls * Roo change (i.e.,at roo to sloped roo) * Roo replacement * Room ad-dition * Room remodel * Siding * Sliding glass door (i area is increased) * Skylight * Spa or hot tub installation* Windows, new or replacement (i area is increased)
Projects that mightrequire a building permit