Suppliers, Customers and the Environment All Stand to Gain
The quest for greater energy efficiency in homes and buildings across the United States continues unabated.
With the ever-increasing promotion of sustainable living by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE), more and more homeowners and building professionals understand the benefits of energy conservation. Improving a home or building’s energy efficiency reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to help preserve the environment for future generations. The nobility of such a goal may resonate with a large number of people; however, even more people will likely be drawn to the movement toward a more energy-efficient America by one concrete detail — it will save them money.
Homeowners are beginning to realize that home improvements such as insulation, solar reflective asphalt roof shingles, and more efficient windows and doors help the environment and can also lower their monthly utility bills — a powerful selling point today. And according to a National Association of Home Builders survey, many homeowners are willing to make the investment — 51 percent of them said they would invest $5,000 to $10,999 in their homes if energy costs could be reduced by roughly $1,000 a year.
To meet the needs of an increasingly energy-conscious public and building industry, it is wise for building products suppliers to become more acquainted with the concept of energy efficiency and how it can benefit them as well.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND PRODUCTS THAT ENHANCE IT
There are many ways to make a home or building more energy efficient. Home and building owners can upgrade to ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances, caulk and seal leaks in the structure, and install ENERGY STAR qualified building products that place less demand on heating and cooling systems. In addition to doors and windows, three building components that effectively contribute to increased energy efficiency are insulation, insulated siding and solar reflective roofing.
A well sealed and insulated home will be more comfortable, and create less work for the heating and cooling systems. Homeowners and building owners need to find out the recommended insulation thermal resistance level, or R-Value, their region and work to at least match that level. If an area of the home or building’s insulation doesn’t meet or exceed the DOE’s recommended R-Value, more insulation should be installed to raise the R-Value to the desired level.
Building products suppliers should expect increased demand for a variety of insulation products, such as fiber glass batt and blow-in fiber glass insulation. In addition, a newer material — spray foam insulation — is also attracting attention for its excellent performance attributes.
Polyurethane spray foam insulation is sprayed into an open building cavity and quickly adheres and expands to fill all voids, creating an effective air seal as well as a thermal barrier. Spray foam insulation can be used in whole house and building applications or in combination with fiber glass insulation. It is particularly useful in hard-to-reach areas such as cathedral ceilings, knee walls and roof decks. Spray foam insulation minimizes hot and cold spots and provides outstanding comfort and indoor air quality by impeding the penetration of moisture and outdoor allergens.
Fiber glass HVAC duct board, duct liner and duct wrap are additional options for increasing energy efficiency with insulation, as they each do a superior job of maintaining the desired temperature of conditioned air throughout the ductwork until it is delivered to its destination.
According to ENERGY STAR statistics, up to 40 percent of energy lost through a traditionally insulated wood-framed wall is through wood studs, which comprise up to 25 percent of a home’s exterior. Think of each stud as a “thermal bridge,” which, depending on the season, allows warm or cool air to pass through the wall. To stop this drain on a home’s heating and cooling system, you must break the thermal bridge. One of the newest and best ways to accomplish this task is with insulated vinyl siding.
Insulated vinyl siding products feature rigid foam insulation behind the exterior surface of the siding panel. The insulation is precision-cut and contoured to fill the gap between the siding R-Value and home, so it insulates continuously across a home’s framing, breaking the thermal bridge. The foam insulation backing allows the siding to deliver an average R-Value that is more than triple that of most exterior cladding materials.
Solar Reflective Roofing
Thanks to ongoing advances in roofing technology, new cool roofing membranes and shingles use reflective surface colors and granules to repel the sun’s rays and lower roof surface temperatures, which prevents absorption of excessive roof heat into the structure and decreases the demand on heating and cooling systems. Now that cool roofing products are available in a wider variety of colors and styles, more homeowners are likely to request them for their next roofing job.
A BENEFIT TO BOTH CUSTOMERS AND SUPPLIERS
Whatever your customer base, it is wise to consider adding a wider variety of energy-efficient products to your inventory as the demand continues to grow. Today’s homeowners want to reinvest in the American Dream without breaking the bank, and building owners want to watch their bottom line. Communicating energy- and cost-saving benefits will likely lead to increased sales for you and your customers.