Going Green With Energy Efficient Homes

The sound of people laughing and talking greeted me Saturday as I walked through the garage door and into the home of Shad Salmons. Inside, family members of Salmons’ were walking around painting and having a good time helping to build his new home.

On the outside Salmons’ home looks like any other, but on the inside are a few distinct appliances that make it special. This includes an electric furnace that will reduce his heating bills significantly, florescent light bulbs that use 75 percent less energy and last up to ten times longer than a normal incandescent light, effective insulation, and many other appliances that make his house green.

For seven years Salmons lived in a small house in Fulton. This home had no crawl space, attic, or upstairs. As of five years ago though, Salmons and his wife decided to buy a lot of land and build his own home. After talking with the owner of the development, he was inspired to make it an energy efficient home. The official groundbreaking ceremony, as Salmons calls it, took place on Sept. 8, 2009. Friends and family were there to support him, and now they’re still chipping in to help build his home.

This past week I started out with a story idea about the program “Show Me Heroes.” But after many phone calls and very little luck with what I wanted, I decided to move on to another idea. As I see it, a journalist should always have another story idea tucked away in their back pocket.

Not too long ago I saw an article on energy efficient homes. I decided it would be neat to find out how the recession is impacting homebuyers and if more energy efficient homes are being built. And like always, to make a story fun, I was also looking for a topic I knew nothing about.

I started with the Energy Star website. There I looked at the construction companies in Columbia that build energy efficient housing. With a few phone calls I was able to get a hold of Bill Williams, owner of the Master Key Place development area. He directed me to a construction owner, Gene Vaughn, and Salmons who are both building energy efficient homes in his subdivision.

Last Wednesday I headed out to Vaughn’s place. He took me to an energy efficient home and showed me around. Vaughn is looking to build his home within the next few months. He explained to me that for a home to be energy star certified, it must fulfill the requirements in one of three categories. The homeowner also must pay $700 to get it officially certified.

After conducing the interviews, I found that even though not many people are building homes now, the ones who are tend to look towards building energy efficient homes. As the recession continues, people are changing the way they build their homes. People are looking to reduce their utility bills and energy efficient homes are the way to do so.

According to Energy Star, not only can energy efficient appliances help lower utility bills, but they can help keep dust out of the home, keep the moisture levels on windows down, prevent a drafty room, and can help from mold, mildew, and musty odors. Any home three stories or less can obtain a certification if they meet the right requirements.

Homeowners who feel Energy Star homes are just to expensive should look into tax credit rebates and other ways the government is willing to help out before giving up. Rebates can also be found in different towns, depending on the area a homeowner is looking to build. Salmons says in the long run, all the money that you pay up front is eventually paid off within seven to eight years.

A ground source heat pump is one appliance that can help save a homeowner money by getting rid of their fuel bills. This pump helps to heat the house and can save someone 50 to 70 percent on their utility bills during the winter. During the summer they can save up to 20 to 40 percent on their utility bills. Insulation, high-performance windows, tight construction and ducts, different efficient products and efficient heating and cooling equipment can all play a large part in building an energy efficient home.


Upon leaving the interviews, I always like to critique myself:

I noted a few things in these interviews that I would like to work on. This included asking more pointed questions that would help advance the focus of my story. Framing could be tighter on the interviewees as well. I also need to pay attention to what’s in the background of my interviewees. The first interview had a jacket in the background that was quite distracting. I felt that there were some pretty interesting angles that I could have taken with the camera while doing b-roll, but didn’t spot them very well. There are always things I’m looking to improve on and things I just hope will get better with practice.


Corbin Linder said...

Energy-efficient homes are some of the best options today in terms of living quarters. These homes have higher energy efficiency because of their insulation, which helps maintain a controlled atmosphere inside each living quarter. That $700 certification is money well-spent. :)


Rolf said...

Building an energy efficient house calls you to consider a lot of things, and it seems very hard to do. You have to check on windows, roof, doors, the attic, and every part of the house. You have to carefully pick the appliances and furniture that you’ll have in every room. In the end, this meticulous process will give you a lot of benefits and cheaper expenses in the coming years.

~ Rolf Matchen ~

Lida Swisher said...

I agree with Rolf. Though you’ll undergo many meticulous processes in aiming for an energy efficient home, the benefits will be with you for a lifetime. Who wouldn’t enjoy having low electricity payments every month? I think no one likes to spend much on their electricity bills! :)

-Lida Swisher-

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