Energy Efficiency Q&A.
- What is all the hype about being Green? What exactly does it mean to be Green?
- Is Meritage Homes going Green?
- What is the Meritage Home Core Purpose and Mission Statement?
- What does energy efficiency mean?
- What is an energy efficient appliance and how can an appliance make a different in the environment?
- Will an energy efficient appliance save me money?
- Do I have to alter my lifestyle or unplug my appliances to be energy efficient?
- If I own energy efficient appliances does that mean my home is energy efficient?
- What other energy efficient products would make my home more efficient and Green?
- You mentioned "healthy indoor environments". I understand how all the other products eliminate wasted energy but what products improve indoor air quality?
- So if my home is built with energy efficient and Green products, would it's value be higher than comparable home that was not built with these products?
What is all the hype about being Green? What exactly does it mean to be Green?
Green is a term used to describe many things, including homes designed and built with an emphasis on conservation of resources, energy efficiency and healthy indoor spaces. Building Green means building better.
Is Meritage Homes going Green?
Meritage Homes has always incorporated energy efficient and sustainable building practices into our homes. In 2009, we committed ourselves to take the lead in Green building practices by implementing a strong, unified Green platform across all our divisions. Going forward, we will continue to explore opportunities to utilize Green practices to create value for our homeowners, employees, and shareholders. There are many reasons to go Green: governmental mandates, market differentiation, and various municipal ordinances. But mostly, Meritage Homes builds homes to enrich lives; therefore, we incorporate corporate responsibility and sound environmental practices into the way we operate our business and make daily decisions. Our corporate Mission Statement was recently augmented to clearly express that commitment.
What is the Meritage Homes Core Purpose and Mission Statement?
Our core purpose is to enrich lives by building the American Dream! Meritage takes pride in designing and building homes and communities that are innovative, built with care and superior craftsmanship, and deliver enduring value while practicing stewardship of environmental resources. We strive to provide an exceptional customer experience by respecting employees and trade partners, rewarding performance and creating an environment of personal growth and fun.
What does energy efficiency mean?
Its true definition is the ratio of desired work performance (output) divided by the energy necessary to accomplish that work. Basically, being energy efficient means getting more productive work done per unit of energy. Advancements in energy efficiency have been made by focusing on the intended use of the appliance, ensuring it performs better, and removing waste by-products such as friction, unproductive mechanical energy, or energy recovery and reuse. It is a common misconception that higher efficient appliances do not perform their task as well as older generation models. The fact is they often perform much better AND consume less energy. For example, light bulbs all emit the same amount of light when compared across various types. A more efficient bulb will transfer a higher percentage of energy into light energy as opposed to wasted heat energy, whereas a less efficient one will do just the opposite. So a higher energy efficient bulb will use less energy to put out the same amount of light as a lower energy efficient one.
And what about sustainability? What does that mean?
Sustainability refers to the concept that a new product, in our case a new home, will meet the needs of the present without compromising those of the future. A truly sustainable process can be repeated generation after generation by returning as much as is taken. Basically it means constructing homes today with materials that do not impair future efforts at obtaining and maintaining a home. It also means utilizing sound principals that reduce the total energy each occupant needs, with good, solid performing products that will not have a negative impact on our environment now or in the future.
What is an energy efficient appliance and how can an appliance make a different in the environment?
An energy efficient appliance reduces the environmental impact by using less energy, mainly in the form of electricity thereby being more efficient than a comparable non-energy efficient appliance. An energy efficient refrigerator may have more insulation or a washing machine may use less water. All refrigerators should keep their contents at the same temperature, but higher efficient models cool with less energy. Efficient washers are designed to make better use of mechanical agitation and require much less water usage, reducing both the energy necessary to operate and heat the appliance. The efficient models also require less detergent to perform the same job.
Will an energy efficient appliance save me money?
Yes, an energy efficient appliance requires less electricity or water, thereby lowering your utility usage and saving you money. Sometimes the appliances themselves may cost more than the comparable non-efficient appliance, but if you look at the long term analysis of upfront cost for the appliance and long term utility usage (total cost of ownership), you will find the appliances pay for themselves over a short period of time. The good news is, ALL appliances included in a Meritage Home are energy efficient, not just as an option or upgrade!
Do I have to alter my lifestyle or unplug my appliances to be energy efficient?
No. Meritage Homes' Green program is designed to deliver savings without sacrificing comfort, function, or style. Using superior construction techniques, high efficiency lighting, Minimum SEER 14, HVAC, Low-E windows, efficient appliances, low flow faucets and shower heads, and programmable thermostats will not cause you to change your lifestyle but will naturally change the way you use energy every day. These products consume less energy while still getting the job done. Most appliances still use electricity even when they are turned off referred to as a "phantom load". If you want to truly reduce your electricity consumption, you can use a power strip to plug some of your appliances into, such as computer and stereo equipment, and turn the strip on and off or unplug your appliances from the wall when not in use.
If I own energy efficient appliances does that mean my home is energy efficient?
Great question and the answer is...not exactly! Owning and using energy efficient appliances is important and a great leap in the right direction. Your home consumes energy through lights, televisions, hair dryers, pool pumps, water heaters, heating and cooling mechanicals, computers, etc. All of these have models available that offer increased energy efficiency. Your home's "envelope," meaning the exterior walls, floor, and roof, are the first of many areas that can be built efficiently with the right type of construction materials, design, insulation, windows, and air sealing techniques. These items can greatly reduce drafts, control moisture, and improve your home's heating and cooling temperatures leading to less waste. Meritage Homes designs and builds our homes with these energy efficient products and ideas in mind. Our high performance building envelopes are illustrated by our participation in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ENERGY STAR® for Homes program. Every home Meritage Homes builds is certified by a third party auditor to exceed the requirements established in the ENERGY STAR program. Many people believe that by installing energy efficient appliances in their home they have greatly improved the homes efficiency. While every energy efficient appliance reduces a portion of a utility bill, 66% of home energy use is consumed by heating, cooling, and lighting a home. When buying an older or re-sale home, it would take great effort and expense to modify it to perform the same as a new Meritage home.
What other energy efficient products would make my home more efficient and Green?
The three Green principals are: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Using locally-produced materials, materials that consume less energy than comparable materials, materials that can be recycled or contain recycled materials, and materials that last longer and produce less waste are all Green initiatives. In addition to our current Green initiatives, Meritage Homes is exploring processes and materials that reduce waste water (such as low-flow toilets and low water use irrigation) and reduce heating and cooling costs (such as ultra Low-E windows, HVAC design, radiant barriers, and reduced thermal bridging). Meritage Homes is also focusing on waste reduction, from waste created in the construction of communities to waste and loss of energy generated at our sales and corporate offices. How does solar and renewable energy play a part in all this? Meritage recognizes the power of the sun and the importance of renewable energy. Meritage has consistently offered solar panels to customers interested in turning the sun's rays into energy. Historically, solar panels have been an expensive option. Meritage Homes is in the process of partnering with renewable energy providers and local utilities to make every home we build "Solar Ready" for both solar panels and solar water heaters. In many of the communities where we build, residents are able to specify the renewable energy content from their utility provider. Meritage is partnering with all of the utility providers for our communities and exploring ways to make renewable energy a viable option for as many residents as possible.
You mentioned "healthy indoor environments." I understand how all the other products eliminate wasted energy but what products improve indoor air quality?
Eliminating drafts with proper seals and insulation, properly designed HVACs with high efficiency filters, controlled fresh air directed back into our homes, properly vented energy efficient appliances, and carefully choosing the construction and finishing materials in the homes we build all play a part in indoor quality. Volatile organic compounds("VOCs") are emissions found in carpets, adhesives, paints and carpets, many of which can exacerbate allergies and asthma, and some of which are toxic. These emissions are released into your home, greatly reducing your air quality. Meritage Homes has committed to use "low" and when possible "zero" VOC carpets, paints, and finishes, thereby improving indoor quality. Meritage Homes designs and builds all its homes with healthy air in mind.
So if my home is built with energy efficient and Green products would its value be higher than a comparable home that was not built with these products?
We certainly believe so, and current legislation in the United States Congress is contemplating establishing it as law. The American Society of Home Appraisers is issuing guidance to increase the value of an energy efficient home in correlation with the amount of utility cost savings a home experiences during the lifetime of the loan - often 10-20% greater value than that of a comparable, but less energy efficient home. In a recent J.D. Power survey of homeowners that purchased a "Green" home, 50% of the respondents stated they believe their home's value was increased because it was "Green." Another 94% reported they purchased their home because of the savings they would see in their power and heating bills, 63% said they purchased their homes due to reduced water usage, 60% because of the reduced impact on the environment and 53% stated their decision to buy a Green home was due to the improved indoor air quality. No matter how you look at it, a Green home adds value in many measurable ways.