While shopping for appliances, you’ve likely come across Energy Star products, but do you know how to save money with their items? The white star and writing on a blue background often catch people’s eyes, but what does Energy Star mean, and should you care about it?
Below we will answer questions such as:
What is Energy Star? What does the designation mean? How an appliance qualifies, and more! Let’s understand how much it will save you in energy use and money.
Here’s everything to know about how to save money with energy star appliances-
What is Energy Star?
Established in 1992 by the US Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Star is a government-backed program for identifying products and devices that meet energy efficiency standards.
Energy Star applies to many products, from light bulbs to computers, windows, buildings, and everyday appliances. It is typically seen as a number that lets consumers know how much energy and money can be saved.
What does the Energy Star designation mean?
The Energy Protection Agency (EPA) works with the Department of Energy to determine which products receive an Energy Star designation. Products and appliances are graded across 75 categories and must meet some guiding principles.
Products must be in a classification that could contribute to substantial energy savings.
They must meet the features and performance that consumers are looking for.
Energy-efficiency technology must be able to be achieved by competing manufacturers.
Savings need to be able to be confirmed through testing.
Certified products that cost more than less efficient alternatives must provide savings in energy costs within a reasonable period of time.
For example, refrigerators must be at least 15% more efficient than the minimum federal efficiency standard. Office equipment must automatically enter a low-power sleep mode after a period of inactivity. TVs should consume 3 watts or less when switched off, which is about 50% less than a standard TV (yes, electronics still pull energy when turned off).
What types of appliances are eligible to receive an Energy Star rating?
A wide range of appliances and products can receive an Energy Star Rating. Some examples are:
When determining the energy efficiency of a product, check the EnergyGuide label. The tag tells buyers how much energy the item consumes and how it compares to other products in the same category.
Before going shopping, check out Energy Star’s most efficient list. This distinction recognizes products that deliver cutting-edge energy and the latest technological innovation.
How can Energy Star Appliances save money?
Energy-efficient items save consumers money over the long run by lowering their bills. Energy Star products and appliances may cost more upon purchase, but long term, they should save money and lower the carbon footprint.
On average major home appliances such as washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, etc., account for 20% of your home’s total electric bill. These items typically last an average of 10-20 years, which means energy costs can add up over time. Energy Star-certified items use anywhere from 10-50 percent less energy each year than non-certified items.
Tip: Some regions charge more money for energy consumed during peak hours. If your utility company operates on a “time of use system,” you may pay more for your appliances when energy demand is higher.
How does Energy Star help save money with taxes?
Cities, states, and the federal government offer tax incentives to encourage consumers to buy energy-efficient products.
The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August of 2022, is aimed to help reduce the country’s carbon emissions. The Act seeks to cut the cost of home energy use through energy-efficient appliances and winterizing upgrades.
Providing up to $14,000 for homeowners who make improvements to their houses by replacing windows, upgrading appliances, and upgrading to solar, the Act aims to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030.
How do you find out what rebates are available?
Once you’ve determined that an Energy Star appliance or product is right for you, the next step will be to visit the Rebate Finder.
How to use the Rebate Finder:
Enter your zip code, and any federal government offers in your area will pull up, listing the rebate details. To apply for a tax credit, you’ll need to claim using specific forms (found here) and submit them with your IRS tax return.
Energy Star Appliances: Pros
There is a lot of hype around Energy Star appliances, with good reason. Saving homeowners billions of dollars and reducing fossil fuel emissions makes it a worthy cause for most.
Here are some pros of installing an Energy Star appliance in your home-
Reduced Energy Costs – Energy Star appliances can reduce usage by as much as 50%. The National Resource Defense Council estimates that energy efficiency standards have saved homeowners about $2,000 per household.
Environmentally Friendly – Energy Star appliances are an excellent option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and our reliance on fossil fuel resources and foreign oil.
Convenience – Purchasing an Energy Star washer and dryer usually means you can wash more laundry per load and dry clothes more quickly! Who doesn’t want to save time?
Energy Star Appliances: Cons
One con of Energy Star appliances is the initial investment is higher than a standard product. That said, in the long term, consumers will experience lower utility bills.
Does a tiny home automatically mean energy efficient?
Simply purchasing a tiny home does not mean it will be energy efficient.
One area that a shopper will want to ask questions to their builder when buying a tiny house. There should be agreement on what appliances get installed in the home, along with lighting and heating.
Overall, it is worth the money to invest a little more when purchasing an appliance for long-term savings. Turn Key Fabrication knows it is crucial to create the most energy-efficient, climate-friendly homes on the market. Contact us today, and let’s make your dream home with the most negligible environmental impact possible!
One term you may come across when discussing a home build or the Inflation Reduction Act is ‘Insulation R-Value’ – but what does that mean? If you want to keep utility bills low and reduce the carbon footprint of your tiny home, this is something you’ll want to understand.
Here, we’ve broken down what R-Value is, the necessary ranges for a tiny or modular house, and the pros and cons.
Here is everything you need to know about R-Value-
What is R-Value?
R-Value is the “capacity of an insulating material to resist heat flow. The higher the number, the greater the insulating power.”
A greater R-Value means better insulation, which will help maintain the home’s internal temperature. Builders use different insulation levels for various areas, such as a lower R-Value for flooring and a higher value for an attic.
Insulation levels range from R10 to R60. For purchasing purposes, a builder may get all the insulation with the same R-Value, doubling it up in certain areas of the home can create a higher R-Value.
Why is Insulation R-Value important?
Keeping your home warm and energy down is a big priority for many people. Knowing the insulation R-Value in the home will help ensure the home is energy efficient. The correct insulation can make or break a build, yet another reason to trust expert builders instead of a Home Depot tiny house kit.
Not only does insulation keep your home warm during the winter months, but it also reduces strain on HVAC systems. Without adequately insulating a home, the thermostat will need to run constantly, leaving the HVAC system on overdrive.
What is the right amount of Insulation R-Value?
The level of R-Value installed in a home will depend on where you live. If you live in a cooler climate, a higher insulation value is necessary vs. a warmer climate. The United States Department of Energy has created a great resource map recommending the R-value levels by region (shown below).
As you can see in the above table, homeowners living in the Texas area would want an attic insulated from R30 to R60, while the floor should be insulated between R13 to R 25, depending on which part of the state you live in.
How do R-Values compare for types of insulation?
When building a new home, there are decisions about which level of insulation to use for floors, walls, and the roof. If you are purchasing a tiny home on wheels (THOW), you’ll want to make sure that you are also considering additional insulation underneath the house. With the THOW being off the ground, there is ample opportunity for air to escape out the bottom of the home.
There are many types of insulation on the market today:
Loose-Fill/Blown-In Insulation – Low R-Value per inch
Batt Insulation – Low R-Value per inch
Spray Foam Insulation – Medium R-Value per inch
Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) – High R-Value per inch
Rigid Insulation Boards – High-R-Value per inch
Each type of insulation comes with its pros and cons. If you are building a new house, you have more options than adding on to a current home.
What are Structural Insulated Panels?
SIP panels are made by laminating styrofoam insulation with sheet goods. Using styrofoam makes the product extremely lightweight, a considerable benefit for a tiny house.
There are considerable benefits to using SIP panels-
Lightweight – these panels create up to 30% weight reduction in framing from traditional houses.
SIPs are earthquake and hurricane-resistant, standing the test of time.
Cost-effective – the high R-Value means the place is temperature controlled.
There are no studs when using SIP panels, so you are free to hang items anywhere on the walls!
At Turn Key Fabrication, we build our homes with Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). They are the best option in the insulation market and are worth the upgrade.
How do you increase R-Value?
There are a variety of ways to increase the R-Value of your home:
Insulate – The best place to add additional insulation in your attic/roof.
High Standards – Make sure your builder knows the code standards for your municipality. Adding more insulation is an option, but your R-Value should always stay within the building code requirements.
Beyond R-Value – Some other ways you can help your home maintain heat are to stop leaks and replace windows.
A single layer of our SIP panels is R25. Since we make them in-house, we can use thicker styrofoam to increase the R-Value and match the recommended amount per region. With a heat flow reduction above 96%, you can rest assured that the tiny or modular home will maintain the temperature inside.
Can you have too much insulation?
Although you can’t necessarily over-insulate your home, there are a few areas to consider when adding more insulation. There is the possibility of a diminishing return, environmental impacts, and the potential for mold.
Each time you add a layer of insulation, the newest layer is doing less work because there isn’t as much availability for heat flow between layers. At some point, there will be little impact on the home while costing more money.
While adequately insulating a home has a positive environmental impact by reducing the amount of energy consumed each month, there can be an ecological downfall. Manufacturing insulation requires energy, natural resources, and the emission of greenhouse gases.
Another downfall of stacking up too much insulation is that moisture can get trapped between the layers, creating a perfect environment for mold. The home needs to be able to breathe through all the insulation. Poor ventilation is a common problem with tiny homes that aren’t built correctly.
How can Turn Key Fabrication help?
Insulation is often overlooked by homeowners, leaving that decision up to the builders, but this is one area you should make a point to ask about. Adding insulation with the right amount of R-Value and sealing air leaks can create a 10% savings on yearly utility bills.
Turn Key Fabrication takes pride in using SIP panels for all areas of our homes. We can create any R-Value panel level, allowing us to use them for flooring, walls, and ceilings. Not only do we use these on homes we build, we happily construct them for other tiny home builders as well! If you are in the market for a tiny house or needing SIP panels, contact us today!
Did you know you can have a full-size living environment in a tiny home? Many people think that because a tiny house is significantly smaller than a traditional stick-built home, they will lose out on all the amenities they’ve come to know and love. We are here to tell you this is not the case.
Customizing a Tiny Home
When working with a builder, you’ll uncover the various ways to customize a tiny home. Before choosing a builder, ensure you are prepared to ask all the right questions. As a customer, you get to choose what types of finishes you want in the house, what appliances you want, and so on. Let’s break down customizations by space.
Customers need to create an environment in the kitchen that allows for ease of cooking and storing food. When downsizing your home, you want to ensure you are on top of making sure the kitchen works for your day-to-day needs.
Some options to customize are:
Size of Cabinet Space
Toe Kick Drawers
Size of Fridge
Type of Oven
Colors of Appliances
The living room should feel cozy and comfortable when you are inside the home. People downsize to a tiny house from a traditional home because they intend to spend more time traveling or the outdoors. That means the living room is a space for you to wind down and enjoy your morning cup of coffee or favorite evening TV show.
There is plenty of space in a tiny home bathroom to offer full-size living. Typically your bathroom and laundry room will partner as one space. Some people may choose to leave out a laundry room, simply heading for a laundromat instead.
Some options to customize are:
Size of Shower
Finishes and Backsplash
Size of Bathroom Overall
Determining how many bedrooms you need will be the first area to start. Bedroom space is generally in the loft areas of the tiny home, which can feel like it would restrict your options. However, bedrooms can still be customized to your needs. If you are a family, you’ll likely want a loft for ample sleeping space on each end of the home. Or they may wish to provide a “play space” for children that isn’t as tall as a loft stand-up loft that adults might want.
Some options to customize are:
Size of Lofts
Quantity of Lofts
Built-ins for Closet Space or Shelving
Size of Bed
Mini Split for Heating or Cooling of Space
Throughout the home
Once you have your layout decided upon, the next step is deciding on the color scheme and finishes of the house. Choosing your favorite colors and feel will make the place feel like a home. The interior of the home should be an extension of the owner.
Some options to customize are:
Heating and Cooling
Handles or Push Drawers/Cabinets
Wall Texture – Shiplap, Standard Walls, etc.
We want your home to be perfect for the lifestyle that you desire. Turn Key Fabrication loves to work with clients to create their tiny home without taking away the full-size living feeling. With our vast range of experience, contact us today to see ideas and customize your ultimate tiny house.
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The measure of thermal resistance (R-Value) is 25 or above, which means the amount of heat flow reduction is above 96%. You can rest assured that the tiny home will maintain the set temperature well.
SIPs are more structurally sound than traditional framing and 3 to 5 times stronger! With zero flex and a breakaway weight of 600lbs per sqft for the foam, Structural Insulated Panels are the way to go.
How Does Wiring Work with SIPs?
Turn Key Fabrication uses a proven strategy when installing wiring channels for tiny houses. We start all the wiring in the ceiling and then drill holes through the SIP panels.
Next, we run channels where the wiring will go through each wall. Each channel comes with a string that pulls the wires through once the roof is installed on the home. These channels save builders a significant amount of time, as the work is already mostly done.
What are the Options with SIP Panels?
The sky’s the limit when it comes to SIP panels. They are highly adaptable and can be used for floors, walls, roofs, foundations, and basements.
People love tiny houses because they can create a home from scratch. SIP panels can be customized to any shape and size and are built to order.
How do SIP Panels get Installed?
Many suppliers of SIPs send pre-cut panels to their customers, leaving them to assemble themselves.
Turn Key Fabrication does the assembly in-house. For our client, Indigo River, a trailer is delivered to our warehouse, and we put the tiny home together.
This allows us to make sure all pieces are correctly installed. We start with drilling electrical channels in the panels, then attach the walls to the trailer. Next, the ceiling is lifted above the structure, where the wires are pulled through the walls. Finally, the top is attached to the roof of the home.
Builders can then attach any siding they want to the interior and exterior of the home to create a customized design.
What are the Benefits of SIP Panels?
SIP panels have many benefits! Builders will see significant differences when comparing SIP panels to standard framing materials.
Being lightweight, these panels create up to 30% weight reduction in framing from traditional houses.
SIPS are earthquake and hurricane-resistant, standing the test of time.
The high R-Value means that the house keeps the temperature consistent, so it is more cost-effective to heat or cool a home built with SIP panels.
Our panels are made of styrofoam, allowing the homeowner to create optimal storage easily, as there are no studs in the walls.
Are SIP Panels Only for Tiny Houses?
SIP Panels can be used on all types of homes! Turn Key Fabrication uses panels on cabins, tiny rooms, tiny houses, storage, and more. Any structure that needs solid insulation can benefit from SIPs.
Why is Turn Key Fabrication the Best Option for SIPs?
Turn Key Fabrication is the best option for Structural Insulated Panels because of our tiny house-building knowledge. We can cut costs for customers by creating our SIPs in-house. Turn Key Fabrication can also foresee problems and work through them before they become more significant issues, saving our clients time.
SIP panels are lightweight, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective. If you want to cut costs and production time on your tiny house building, contact us today and let’s partner to create the best homes on the market.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is a legislative package passed in August 2022 by Congress and signed into law by the President. The Act aims to fight economic inflation, lower the deficit, reduce the prices of prescription drugs for seniors, and lower the country’s carbon emissions.
How does this impact homeowners, you may ask?
Below we’ve highlighted the Act’s effects and the rebates and tax breaks that homeowners may take advantage of.
Why is the IRA important to homeowners?
This new anti-inflation Act provides a benefit of up to $14,000 for homeowners who make improvements to their houses. 2022’s IRA Act aims to cut the cost of home energy use through upgrades of energy-efficient appliances and weatherizing. If all goes as planned with the Inflation Reduction Act, we can expect to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030.
Here are a few ways to improve energy and cost savings in your home.
Weathering the home to stop leaks is the biggest payoff for saving money and reducing emissions. A significant contributor to high energy bills is gaps along baseboards, windows, doors, pipes, fireplaces, and electrical outlets. These areas can cause heat to leak out of your home in the winter and air conditioning to escape during the summer. Poor insulation typically leads to cranking up the heat or AC to keep the temperature more comfortable.
To see where your home may leak, do a self-inspection of common areas like windows and doors. If a leak is found, apply caulk or weatherstripping to help reduce places for air to escape.
Key Takeaway: The IRA provides 30% tax credits with a maximum of $1,200 yearly for weatherization work.
Here are clues that it may be time to replace your windows:
Your home feels too cold in the winter try upgrading to a double panel.
Frames are rotting, sagging, warped, or leaking around the window.
It’s challenging to open or closIf the windows are single pane – it’s time to upgrade to double panel windows.
Key Takeaway: The Inflation Reduction Act offers $600 for window replacement and $250 for exterior door replacement.
Electrifying a house means swapping out fossil fuel-burning appliances for ones that run on electricity.
Two benefits of making homes more energy efficient and running on electricity: help combat climate change and can save money in the long run.
Heating and cooling are typically the prominent energy suckers- here’s how to reduce those costs:
Upgrade air conditioners and clothes dryers to electric options.
Install new HVAC systems (although this does come with the highest upfront costs, it’ll save money in the long run).
Use electric heat pumps to heat and cool the home.
Upgrade the breaker box to prepare for an all-electric home.
Invest in an energy-efficient heat pump water heater.
Change to an electric stove, cooktop range, or oven.
Key Takeaway: All of the above changes are eligible for tax breaks.
There is a 30% tax credit for up to $2,000 to purchase and install a heat pump and rebates up to $8,000 for low to moderate-income households earning less than 150% of the local median income. A new breaker box can get you up to $4,000, and new kitchen appliances qualify for up to $840.
Other Ways to Save Money
If purchasing new items is not in the cards for you at this time, there are other things you can do to cut energy costs.
Here are other ways to cut energy costs:
Turning out lights when not using them, especially when not home.
Replace old light bulbs with LED lights (this does cost more upfront but saves money over time).
Unplug appliances and electronics that are not being used. “Energy vampires guilty of using a lot of power even when not in use are TVs, cable boxes, computers, and smart appliances.
Lower the water heater temperature, even by a couple of degrees.
Line dry clothing when it’s a nice warm day out.
Adjust your thermostat a degree or two during sleeping hours.
Change the air filters in the furnace, HVAC system, and dryer vents.
Close the blinds, especially when not home. This keeps the air from escaping through the windows.
Inflation Reduction Act for Solar
Motivation to go solar has never been higher, as the IRA has a 30% tax credit for installing solar roof panels. A solar system can run $20,000 on average, which is a significant expense up front, but it will save quite a bit in the long run.
How does this impact new homes?
NAHB (National Associate of House Builders) opposed the bill stating that it would impact the taxation of real estate and new building and energy code requirements. They are concerned the bill will “disincentivize multifamily construction, increase the cost of new homes through higher energy code requirements, and inflate labor costs.”
New housing costs are already relatively high, so the NAHB is concerned about future expenses if the states implement the new codes.
How can I get Help?
Turn Key Fabrication uses the highest quality materials to build our homes. With a focus on energy-efficient products and SIP panels, our tiny houses are already meeting many of the codes and guidelines this new Act is implementing. Contact us to get started on building your carbon footprint-friendly home today.
Winter is approaching fast, and it’s vital to winterize an RV to reduce any risks of damage. You don’t want to wait until the snow is already on the ground before you start prepping your tiny home, RV, or other modular structure, so these are some of our best tips to get winter ready.
Here’s how to Winterize a Tiny House or RV
Why Winterize an RV or Tiny House?
As winter hits and temperatures drop, the weather creates the perfect opportunity for frozen pipes and ice accumulation that can cause damage to your tiny home or RV. The potential for thousands of dollars in damage threatens those not prepared correctly.
As an investor or owner, the last thing you want is to find yourself in the middle of a freezing winter day with no heat. Like a traditional home, a tiny house needs regular maintenance and care.
Look For Damage
Before winter approaches, it is wise to look around the whole home to see if there is any noticeable wear-and-tear. Check window seals for any breakage, test for door and window air leaks, and look at the roof to ensure no holes or other damage.
Many builders will drill holes in the walls and floors to run plumbing, wiring, and propane lines; however, they don’t always fill these gaps before the sale of the home. Check for holes near the bathroom, kitchen sinks, and where the plumbing for the tanks comes in.
Heat Your Hoses
Heating your hoses under the tiny house RV is an essential step when you go to winterize. There are a couple of different ways to do this:
First, put pool noodles or other insulation around the hoses to ensure they do not freeze. Secondly, if the space under the house is closed off, a heater can be run on low to keep the temperature above freezing.
If the tiny house or RV is hooked up to potable water, you will need a heated hose or to insulate the hose with wired heat tape. A heated hose runs about $150 on average but is an excellent investment for keeping the threat of frozen hose lines and pipes at bay. You’ll also want to insulate the hose bib to keep it from freezing and cutting off your water supply.
Prep Your Propane
When the temperatures drop, it can be difficult for your propane to work properly and maintain optimal pressure. Low pressure prevents the gas from vaporizing, leaving your tiny home without propane.
To avoid this, grab your propane and a nice cozy blanket. Heated blankets can run around $100-$500 depending on what is needed for your climate.
Tiny homes often have several windows to allow for natural light and boost the feeling of spaciousness. While this is nice in the summertime, it can become quite costly in the winter if not appropriately insulated. Utilizing solar shades or black-out curtains can create an extra layer of protection from the chilly temperatures or blazing Texas summers.
Also, check the weather stripping on the windows and replace them if necessary. Re-caulking can also be needed on the inside if the caulking is cracked.
Skirt Your Underbelly
Adding a skirt around the exterior is one of the best ways to keep your portable home warm. This is a must, so that the wind doesn’t get underneath the house and suck warm air out.
Custom Skirts. You can purchase a custom-fit skirt designed for your specific RV or modular structure.
Foam Board. Many people will make their skirting using foam board. As with any underbelly, ensure that you create a tight fit and no air gaps.
Nylon/Banner Material. A simple nylon banner can be an easy way to wrap the exterior quickly and is easy to find at a local hardware store.
Add Insulation. Before the skirting gets put on, adding insulation under the house or in any storage compartments is perfect for extra protection from the cold.
Prepare Your Holding Tanks
Winterizing the potable water tank and your black and gray tanks is vital for your tiny home or RV. Start by putting insulation around the tanks. Adding a small space heater into the compartment where the tanks are located is also an excellent way to manage temperature control.
Cover Your Tires
If you keep your RV or Tiny Home stationary, ensure that your tires are covered for wintertime.
Covering tires with weather-resistant material and keeping the wheels off the ground will prevent dry rotting from weather exposure. Heavy-duty tire covers are necessary to keep tires in the best condition possible through freezing temperatures. If you plan to travel, invest in the best tires you can afford that are made to grip snowy, icy, or wet surfaces for safety.
It’s vital to have a backup generator available for the winter seasons. There may be times when a storm comes through or an icy winter hits (we’ve been known to have those in Texas!) when all power will be knocked out (another Texas classic!). A generator likely won’t make the entire home function as usual, but it will allow you to run some heaters and cook food while you stay warm.
How to Heat Your Tiny Home
It can be tricky to keep all home spaces warm during the winter. Tiny houses and RVs are relatively sensitive to the temperatures outside. If the home comes with a propane furnace, you should always use it when temperatures are below 50 degrees F.
Add a space heater to the rooms you frequent in the winter, such as the living room and bedrooms. Many people also like to add space heaters to warm up specific rooms or in tandem with their propane furnace. Close any doors that go to rooms that you are not utilizing often.
Have Your Tiny Home Built the Right Way
Turn Key Fabrication takes pride in the work and attention to detail we put into every home we build. By using SIP panels, our tiny homes will be ready to keep you warm through the winter months while still keeping proper airflow moving throughout the house. Contact us today to learn more about our building materials, and let’s start building your ideal home.
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