Small remodeling jobs can reduce your home's environmental footprint
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jun 21, 2010
Remodeling your home is a perfect opportunity to go green.
Although it's a popular buzzword these days, the ultimate payoff for incorporating new environmentally friendly products and design in your home is that you can lower household maintenance and energy costs.
If you're rebuilding your home from the ground up, you might want to consider "passive design" strategies, according to design-build firm Graham Builders, which conducts seminars on the topic. That means using natural elements -- sunlight, for instance -- to light your home through strategically placed windows, or positioning your home to take advantage of natural breezes, lowering air-conditioning costs, or planting a tree in the right spot to provide shade.
HOME SEMINARGraham Builders' Building Comfort & Savings Seminar, Sat., July 17, 9-11 a.m., Honolulu Country Club
Other steps include switching to EnergyStar appliances and compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), and installing water-saving low-flow shower heads and dual-flush toilets. The EnergyStar program, a joint effort by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, certifies products to be energy-efficient without sacrificing performance.
Eco-friendly building and finish materials include cork flooring, plastic composite lumber for decks and paints low in volatile organic compounds.
3. Solatube Daylighting System
» A clear dome installed on the roof and connected to a glass diffuser in the ceiling via a metal tube -- provides natural light during the day
» Cost: $650 to $900 (qualifies for 30 percent federal tax credit)
» For more info: www.hawaiiskylights.com
4. Solar water heater systems
» Absorbs sunlight through collectors, usually flat panels mounted on south-facing roof, transferring the heat to water circulating through the collector. The heated water is then stored in a tank for use day or night. Solar water heaters can reduce energy costs by as much as 40 percent.
» Cost: $6,250 before tax credits and rebates, depending on the size of the system, according to the Hawaii Solar Energy Association. After state and federal tax credits, plus a $750 utility rebate from the Hawaii Energy Efficiency Program, the cost dwindles to about $1,200. System takes about two years to pay for itself.
5. Solar photovoltaic systems
» Rooftop panels containing silicone cells that convert sunlight into energy and connect to an inverter box that supplies electricity to the home
» Cost: $25,000 to $50,000, depending on household energy use, sun zone, and size of system. A three-bedroom home in Kailua already equipped with a solar water heater, for example, can fully power itself with a 2.76-kilowatt solar PV system. Qualifies for both state and federal tax credits. Takes about six to 10 years to pay for itself, but savings from net metering should kick in right away.
» More info on tax incentives: www.energytaxincentives.org. Rebates: www.hawaiienergy.com