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Building green to save you green

Published On: Feb 20 2013 01:48:26 PM CST
Updated On: Mar 04 2013 10:22:15 AM CST
man and woman working on home construction site

iStock/kzenon

(NewsUSA) - If global warming, ozone-layer depletion and animal extinctions aren't enough to inspire you to go green, perhaps monthly savings on your energy bills will do the trick.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a combination of proper insulation, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems and energy-efficient windows can lower your bills by as much as 50 percent a month.

In 2006 alone, approximately 12 percent of newly constructed homes and buildings met the federal government's Energy Star standards. To date, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates there are about 750,000 Energy Star homes nationwide that together have saved more than $180 million in electricity and natural gas costs.

And while updated appliances and heating and cooling systems are two of the more obvious ways in which to save on your gas and electric bills each month, there are often fairly easy, energy-efficient upgrades that can be made during the construction process or while homeowners make renovations. For instance, try these energy-saving tips:

* Start on solid foundation. New foundation insulation panels provide cost-effective means for building thermally efficient poured concrete walls both above and below ground level. Basement space can account for up to 50 percent of the heat loss in a home that is heavily insulated above grade.

* Side with substance. Vinyl siding, popular for its low-maintenance qualities, can also provide thermal benefits and added durability when made with rigid foam backing. Through frigid winters and sweltering summers, the insulated vinyl siding protects against heat and cold, blocking wind and weather.

* Insulate. Homeowners should be choosey when it comes to selecting fiberglass insulation. Energy-efficient choices are high performance, noncombustible, non-corrosive and odor free. Because it won't rot, decay or absorb moisture, it will continually provide the best possible insulation for your home and keep your heat and air in.

* More than a view. The windows in your home can cause energy-efficiency problems. Newer windows, however, made with low "E" glass keep your home insulated and can block 84 percent of ultraviolet rays.