real estate

Green remodeling fights home-value blues

The air isn't free
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Much, if not most, of a home's energy use goes toward heating, ventilating and air conditioning, or HVAC. Making sure that your HVAC system is as energy efficient as possible is likely to be a major focus of any green remodeling project.

One term you should familiarize yourself with is SEER. It doesn't refer to a fortuneteller, but rather it stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It's a Department of Energy rating that measures how efficient your home's air conditioning system is. The higher the SEER, the more efficient your air conditioner is. In 2006, the U.S. adopted a minimum SEER rating of 13 for all new air conditioners.

But remodelers stress that you don't necessarily need a new system to improve efficiency. Philip Beere, LEED AP, and founder of GreenStreet Development in Phoenix, the first company to earn an Emerald rating on a home remodeling project, says even minor fixes can yield major gains. On one historic-home remodeling, "we increased ventilation in the bathrooms and vented the clothes dryer to the exterior,'' he says.

Besides reducing the need for air conditioning, these changes also improved indoor air quality.




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