Jan. 5, 2017
Last year saw renewed interest in high performances, thanks in part to a rising home market and consumer interest in sustainability.
Here's a look back at the Top 10 news items for 2016, ranked in ascending order of popularity. Click on each headline to read more of the story. Read through this countdown and let us know in the comments which one was your favorite.
10. 5 Tips for Buying a Tankless Water Heater
Water heating accounts for 18 percent of the average household’s energy bill, making it the second-largest chunk of the typical energy budget, after heating and cooling. Replacing an old water heater with a high-efficiency model, such as a tankless water heater, will save you money and reduce your home's energy usage.
Unlike conventional heaters that store water in an insulated tank until you need it, tankless heaters produce hot water on demand. When you turn on the tap, water flows through the unit and is heated before it reaches the faucet, so there is no wasted energy keeping the water at a set temperature when it isn’t needed. The Department of Energy estimates that if a family uses less than 41 gallons of hot water a day, a tankless on-demand heater is between 24 and 34 percent more energy-efficient than a heater with a conventional storage tank.
9. The Top 8 sustainable senior housing trends for 2016
The green living trend is sweeping the nation, and senior housing facilities are no exception. It’s not just about enticing earth-conscious baby boomers, though their desire to leave a greener world behind certainly factors into the decision for many facilities. Going green also helps cut heating and cooling costs, improve water conservation efforts, and meet Energy Star standards across all of the devices used in the facility.
Today’s seniors have a more sophisticated understanding of sustainability than ever before and are willing to pay for sustainable principles. They want to know how their housing and other aspects of the facility impact the environment. It’s not just a matter of whether or not the upfront costs of building green are worth the effort. As a matter of fact, Senior Planning Services, a northeast Medicaid planning company, cites a recent study by Civano Living working with the market research firm American LIVES which found that a majority of Baby Boomers would pay more for green, sustainable practices, with the average willing to pay 7 percent more for their purchase.
8. 3 new ways to stop plumbing problems with smart technology (video)
Today, more than 40 states, including Nevada, anticipate water shortages within the next ten years according to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The World Economic Forum's 10th global risk report ranks "water crises" as the #1 global risk in terms of impact. Changing consumer outdoor water use behavior and habits is critical for sustainability and the national supply.
7. The 10 trendiest options in sustainable bath tile décor
When you decorate your bathroom, you want to remain eco-friendly without compromising style and class. Luckily, there are a variety of products currently on the market that will allow you to create any style that you like without compromising the eco-friendly nature of your decor. You want to make a difference for the environment and live in a home that is trendy, and with these ten options, you can do exactly that.
6. The ABCs of HVAC: A heating and cooling dictionary for homeowners
As with any highly skilled trade, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) contractors and technicians have their own language. They use a variety of terms and concepts that most of us do not deal with on a daily basis. A good HVAC contractor will take the time to explain everything to you when performing maintenance or installing a new system, but it doesn't hurt to have some basic knowledge so that you can ask intelligent questions and ensure the efficiency of your equipment. Here's a list of some of the terms you may encounter.
5. Top 10 residential design trends for the next 10 years
Functionality, accessibility, and sustainability will remain strong trends in residential design trends over the next 10 years, according to a new survey from the American Institute of Architects.
For the tenth anniversary of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey, a panel of more than 500 residential architects were asked what they thought would be the most significant home design elements over the next ten years.
“Historically, the dominant factors in home design have been economic and demographic shifts. Residential architects are seeing these forces at play in their vision for the next decade as well,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Homeowners have indicated a strong preference for functionality, accessibility, and sustainability over the last ten years and architects expect that to accelerate, with increasing demand for healthy building materials and furnishings, along with designs that provide measures of resistance to weather related calamities.”
4. 9 home upgrades that pay you back
The April/May issue of AARP The Magazine discusses nine home upgrades that increase the value of your home the most. Here's a look at the best places to invest in your home.
If you're like many people 50 or older, your biggest asset may not be your 401(k) or IRA. It’s your house. And if you’ve been thinking of cashing out to downsize or move to a less costly region, you’ll want to maximize your gain.
That means laying out money to give the place the curb appeal it needs to sell quickly and at the highest possible price— which can be money very well spent.
According to the 2016 Remodeling magazine Cost vs. Value survey, the average return on home-improvement projects was 6.7 percent higher than it was a year earlier, handily beating the inflation rate of 1.4 percent.
Simple replacements can give you a better return than major remodeling projects - about 4 percent more, on average. Manufactured stone-veneer siding and front door replacement, for example, have better returns on investment than kitchen and bath projects.
Returns will vary by region. Where home prices are high and job growth is strong, you can count on a higher payback, says Craig Webb, editor of Remodeling.
Nationally, the average return at resale for the 30 projects surveyed was 64 percent (up from 62 percent in 2015), or $64 for every $100 spent, assuming the home was sold within a year.
3. 3 Devices Every Home Should Have
Every home should contain smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers. It's a common-sense statement that many homeowners, either knowingly or unknowingly, ignore or overlook. Here's a look at these three devices, why they are necessary and how they should be used.
2. 7 ways to harness solar energy around your house
Quick! What does “household solar” mean to you?
If you’re like most people, you are probably picturing rooftop solar panels. It’s true, photovoltaics are the best known and perhaps the most versatile form of solar energy you can have in your home. Yet why stop there, when there are so many additional ways to go solar?
1. Can I use geothermal heating and cooling in my existing home?
Geothermal heating and cooling is one of the top ways homeowners can reduce their utility bills as well as their environmental impact. But for many years, geothermal was considered primarily an option for new construction.
As the housing market has changed and technology has improved, geothermal heating and cooling has become a viable option for existing homes.
A geothermal heating and cooling system is also known as a ground-source heat pump. Instead of the more common air-source heat pump, a geothermal system relies on the stable, even heat of the earth to provide heating, air conditioning and, in most cases, hot water.
A system of tubes buried horizontally or vertically in the ground contains a water/anti-freeze mixture that circulates through the ground and the heat pump. The antifreeze mixture carries heat to or from the home as needed. In some cases an open-loop system using a ground-water source may be possible depending on water quality and quantity.