Countdown: Top 10 News Articles of 2015

Countdown: Top 10 News Articles of 2015

The trend for high performance homes continues to gain momentum, and our top news stories reflect your interest in creating a more comfortable, healthy and efficient home.

These are the Top 10 high performance home news stories that captured your attention this year. While not all of the stories were posted in 2015, they received significant traffic and social media attention to vault them into the Top 10 most viewed news stories for the year.

Here's a look back at what you viewed, starting with No. 10 and leading to the most popular news item of the year. There's an excerpt from each article; to see the full article, click on the headline link.

10. Lightweight building block offers new options for energy-efficient walls

With a built wall cost under $5 per square foot, the Liteblok Jumbo represents a new option for sustainable wall systems.

Liteblok is a precision molded, interlocking, mortarless building block made from lightweight cellular concrete and composed of sand, cement and a network of tiny, discrete air pockets. Applications include homes, buildings, fences and retaining walls. Liteblok is a form; the holes within the blocks enclose a structure of steel reinforced concrete columns and beams.

9.Homes constructed with foam panels offer affordable energy efficiency

The Reata Foundation has partnered with an innovative green homebuilder to bring affordable energy-efficient housing to the market.

The Reata Foundation Inc. is working with CFS Green Homes, a Monticello, Ark.,-based fabricator of expanded polystyrene (EPS) panels for home building. 

CFS has developed an engineered fabricated home that is energy efficient, has less noise and drafts, making for a quieter, more comfortable, and healthier living environment for the family than a comparably priced stick-build home, according to company representatives.

8. Remote control your water heater for energy savings

According to Energy Star, residential water heating represents the second largest consumption of energy in the home, right behind heating and cooling. So taking control of your water heater can pay off in lower energy bills.

Wireless thermostats are one new way that homeowners can take control of their energy use.

AQUA SMART, Inc. released two wireless thermostats for 220 V electric water heaters. The RES model is for residential installations and the TOU model was customized for utility companies to support Time of Use energy saving programs.

7. Hottest 2015 home design trends from Pinterest

Check out the hottest trends that are shaping home design in 2015, from the return of olive green to an obsession with metallic accents.

This infographic is a compilation of the most popular trending topics in home décor predicted for 2015 by Pinterest’s own blog posts and from Pinterest user boards, compiled by Chais Lund, a curtain and blind installer in Perth, Australia.

6.  Hurricanes, Forest Fires & Bears, Oh My! Nanawall launches bear-proof folding glass wall

The resilient building movement has tackled natural threats such as hurricanes, forest fires, tornados and other disasters. Until now, the threat of bears has been largely overlooked.

The conflicting desires of custom homebuilders and homeowners to bring the outdoors in, yet keep the bears out, can now be resolved with the NanaWall Aluminum Framed Folding Glass Wall BEARricade. It opens wide to aesthetically erase indoor/outdoor boundaries, yet also fends off the most persistent and resourceful bears. After all, there’s nothing like a house in the woods, until it’s discovered by bears.

Next Read: 2015 high performance home building trends in review


5. Replace an old heating system with an efficient mini-split heat pump

If your HVAC system is due for replacement, or you if you're building a new home, consider the mini-split heat pump for an energy-efficient option.

If your home has existing baseboard heaters, wood fireplaces, or a gas-fired furnace, a mini-split heat pump makes for an easy and inexpensive installation compared to retrofitting a home with a gas furnace and a central air conditioning system.

Ductless mini-split heat pump systems are usually easy and inexpensive to install, because they do not require the installation of ductwork in walls, floors, or ceilings. Keep in mind that installing new ductwork through a qualified contractor can cost $10,000 to $15,000 per home.

4. Prepare for water heater changes coming in 2015

New rules for water heaters in the U.S. market are coming in 2015 that will save energy but could make them cost more to buy and install.

Beginning in 2015, gas, oil, electric tank, table top water heaters, and instantaneous gas and electric water heaters will have to meet tough new standards for energy factor ratings. Most tankless systems already meet the new standards.

The U.S. Department of Energy expects the changes to save approximately $63 billion in energy bill savings for products shipped from 2015-2044. The standard will avoid about 172.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of about 33.8 million automobiles.

3. Choose a metal roof for your residential solar panel mounting system

More and more homeowners are choosing to add solar power to their high-performance homes, but they may overlook an important factor: the roof under the solar panels.

U.S. homeowners are warming up to the value of solar or photovoltaic (PV) power. In fact, the third quarter of 2013 marked the largest quarter ever for residential PV installation, according to a new study from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

2. Living mulch offers an alternative to wood bark or chips in the lawn

Looking for a way to deter weeds, repel harmful insects, attract beneficial ones, improve soil, retain water and make your gardens look beautiful? Check out living mulch.

Rather than settle for typical garden mulches like bark or gravel, living mulch (often called cover crops) offfers a brilliant carpet of fast-growing flowers. Most experienced gardeners are familiar with the effort typically involved in planting cover crop seeds which are small and tend to clump together making it difficult to get an even spread which results in raggedy patches.

A new product has called Live Mulch (“Groovy Groundcovers by Seed”) makes the planting process fast, easy and evenly-distributed by cleverly combining seeds with prepared mulch medium.

1. Use a free online tool to remake your home exterior

Before you pick up a hammer, check out the new LP Design Planner to get some new ideas on how to make your home look and perform better.

LP SmartSide engineered wood siding launched the tool to help consumers picture their homes with an exterior remodel. With the LP Design Planner, users can create and save design projects, access information about their projects and share their projects with friends. They can choose virtually unlimited combinations of siding styles, colors and accents.

Read more news.

Topics: Exteriors, Gardening & Landscaping, Going Green, Healthy Homes, Heating & Cooling, Interior Design, Sustainability Trends & Statistics, Water Heaters, Windows

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