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!
What are the biggest differences between tiny homes vs. mobile homes, and how do you choose which is best for your needs? Below we will cover the top eight, as well as the pros and cons of each option.
What is a Mobile Home?
A mobile home is a prefabricated structure built in a factory. These homes are attached to a chassis before being transported to their final location. Mobile homes may fit the saying of a tiny house; however they come in single wide, double wide, and even triple wide options, so they can easily be over 2000 sq ft.
Mobile homes have a bathroom(s), living room, kitchen, and bedrooms allowing for more privacy.
What is a Tiny Home? DIYers can build tiny homes if they have the skills.
A tiny home is typically under 600 sq ft. It can be attached to a foundation or on wheels (THOW). They are also typically built in a factory and moved to their final location; however, they can also be left on wheels to be taken from place to place if the owner plans to travel.
Differences between Mobile Homes and Tiny Homes:
Up until 1976, mobile homes had low guidelines. During these times, mobile homes often had poor leaks, lousy wiring and insulation, and high energy bills. However, in 1976, the HUD Code created standards for Manufactured Homes which came with higher quality.
Tiny homes are well built, and although made in a factory, they are closer lined to a traditionally-built house when compared to mobile homes. Since the interest in Tiny Homes is at all-time highs, they are made with the latest building technology and designs.
The average cost of a mobile home is between $40,000 – $250,000. Prices can fluctuate depending on the size, materials and customizations, delivery, and the location where the home is being built. Used mobile homes are an option and can be as affordable as $10,000.
Both mobile homes and tiny houses will also incur the cost of land.
Despite their name, mobile homes are not very mobile. A moving permit is required to move one, and it can cost between $1,000 to $10,000 depending on the size, location, and if the company has to dismantle the home before moving. Mobile homes are usually only transported if the owner has purchased a new piece of land or the owner sells the house, and the buyer has to move it.
Tiny Homes, especially those on wheels (THOW), are made to move from location to location. They are much more versatile in the mobility aspect. It is advised to get the tiny house RVIA (recreational vehicle industry association) certified to move it to different locations to make sure that it is road worthy and meets uniform standards across the U.S. Many RV parks also require an RVIA tag to stay.
Mobility can be a deciding factor between Tiny Homes vs. Mobile Homes.
Mobile homes, on average, are expected to be 1,172 sq ft by 2023, making them larger than the average tiny home one of the most significant differences between the two.
Tiny homes are usually between 100-400 sq ft and typically have much smaller living and kitchen areas than mobile homes.
Mobile homes can change their look by being single, double, or triple wide but typically look very similar because they are built on assembly lines. While you may see a difference between builders, this option usually has a mass-production look.
Tiny Homes have a lot of flexibility when it comes to aesthetics. They can be single-story, two-story, square, or rectangle, and the options are almost endless! There is much more freedom with size and shape for a tiny home, as well as the finishings, furnishings, and fittings.
There can be some stigma around living in a mobile home, with old ways of thinking that people who live in them are poor. People may now choose to live in mobile homes as it is cost-effective and faster to get than a stick-built home, and their look has come a long way!
Tiny homes tend to come with the feeling of a community. They are trending right now, which makes them more “acceptable.” The movement around tiny houses is to live more simply, have more financial freedom, reduce your carbon footprint, and overall live more environmentally conscious.
Which Option is More Environmentally Friendly?
Mobile homes were not built with the thought of being environmentally friendly but instead to be cost-effective and provide a simpler way of living.
In contrast, Tiny homes are built with the environment in mind. Many are made using repurposed or recycled materials which helps with the amount of waste that goes along with building a home, and also use solar panels and wind power.
As long as mobile homes meet the requirements for HUD, they are easy to get financed. Banks will typically give a 30-year mortgage for a mobile home.
Tiny houses are not usually eligible for a 30-year mortgage, and the buyer will need to use a personal or RV loan. These loans are generally much shorter, which may create a larger payment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a tiny house be considered a mobile home?
A tiny house is not considered a mobile home. Mobile homes are larger, less expensive, and regulated by the government through the HUD code.
Is it better to live in a tiny house or an RV?
It depends on your wants and needs. A tiny house is more secure and customizable. However, an RV would be more suitable for your needs if you wish to travel often.
Is a tiny house cheaper than a trailer?
A tiny house is cheaper than a trailer, although you can find used trailers that would be more affordable than a tiny house. Prices also vary highly based on size, so that a small mobile home may cost similar to a large tiny house.
As you can see, there are many differences between tiny houses vs. mobile homes. When it comes down to deciding which is suitable for you, looking at budget and usage would be a great place to start. If a tiny house is the right option for you, contact us today so we can start planning!
A traditional 30-year mortgage is unlikely for a tiny home since they generally cost between $30,000 and $80,000. The best avenues to research are looking into a personal loan, a home equity loan if this is a secondary residence or investment property, or financing through a lender partnered with a tiny house builder.
It’s important to ask questions about what the lender will require when researching which loan is best:
Does the loan require a permanent foundation?
Is there a square footage requirement?
What are the minimum and maximum amounts for financing?
These loans are typically unsecured, meaning the bank doesn’t hold anything for collateral. A personal loan has an annual percentage rate between 3-36%, with good credit. Personal loans usually have a length of seven years to pay off.
Some builders can offer in-house financing for tiny homes.
In-house financing is done through a builder’s partnership with a third-party lender, so requirements and qualifications will vary.
Purchasing a THOW (Tiny Home on Wheels) opens up the option of an RV loan since it won’t be placed on a permanent foundation and can be moved around.
The Tiny Home will need to pass an inspection to prove it meets the standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and get an RVIA tag (Recreation Vehicle Industry Association).
One benefit of an RV loan is that they are often financed for 20-30 years so that the payment will be smaller than a personal loan.
RV loan rates are also lower, usually around 4%-8%. A con of this type of loan is that the tiny home will be used as collateral for the loan, so if it is defaulted on, the tiny home can be repossessed.
Operation Tiny House is a matching grant program, which could be up to $12,000 of the down payment.
To qualify, someone in the house must be a community hero or struggling with hardship. Check with Operation Tiny Home to see if qualifications are met or get on the waitlist for the next round of grants.
Examples of past Grant Qualification includes:
Military / Veteran Status
Pre-K – 12th Grade Teachers
Lives in an area affected by hurricane, wildfire, flooding, or other natural disasters
Aging out of Foster Care
It is essential to secure proper insurance on a tiny house like any home.
Natural disasters and other tragedies (fire, flood, vandalism, etc.) are always a possibility, it’s essential to make sure the investment is covered.
There are a few options to obtain insurance:
If financing the tiny home via an RV loan, this would be the best bet for getting insurance. RV Insurance is also great if your tiny home is on wheels and will be moved frequently. Extra insurance coverage that is included with RV that isn’t from traditional insurance are:
Mobile Home Policies
Mobile Home Insurance is an excellent option if the home will be on a foundation or rarely moved.
A comprehensive mobile home insurance policy, similar to homeowners insurance, will cover:
If this route is taken, get a transit endorsement, so the tiny home is covered while transported.
Tiny House Insurance Specialists
With the tiny home boom that keeps growing, we will likely see more and more tiny house insurance specialists come on board.
Insurance Specialists usually offer coverage for traditional and alternative living structures, such as off-grid cabins, micro homes, storage containers, and Tiny Homes.
American Family Insurance covers everything someone would need insurance for – life, business, homeowners, and auto. AFI can help find the right category for insurance coverage on your tiny home with their different policy types, including RV insurance and manufactured home coverage.
Foremost offers specific coverage for tiny homes for full-time tiny home dwellers. Insurance is available through its Travel Trailer Program if the tiny house meets RVIA standards or is certified by NOAH (National Organization for Alternative Housing).
If the tiny home will be an investment property, such as an Airbnb, Liberty Mutual is a great option to look into, with options for short-term rental coverage as well as mobile home insurance. Liberty Mutual builds the insurance policies to fit each individual’s needs so that you can add on to the policy as necessary.
Taking the Next Steps
At Turn Key Fabrications, our passion is helping you customize your tiny home, and that includes financing and insurance.
Managing an investment property or vacation rental can feel overwhelming, and hiring a rental property manager or company can relieve stress.
A rental property manager takes some pressure off the owner so that they can focus more on their investments and less on their guest’s vacation. Managing a tiny home or traditional vacation rental has many moving parts; hiring a property manager can keep those parts from moving away from you. Read More
The need to move towards a more simplistic life has been highlighted for many Americans since the pandemic drastically shook up the world in 2020. Houston has jumped on board with creating some of the top tiny house communities in Texas. Homeowners see the benefits of living tiny as a much more affordable, eco-friendly option,… Read More
You don’t have to go far to go tiny- there are some tremendous Tiny Home communities in Austin, Texas! The tiny home movement is taking the United States by storm, and the need for spaces for these homes is growing just as fast.
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Is a tiny house Airbnb a wise choice? Let’s take a look! Long gone are the days when people want to stay in a hotel with noisy neighbors, elevators, and very little privacy. Airbnb has become the new way to stay when seeking a vacation or even a long-term place for out-of-town work.
What makes a modular home a modular home? The name comes from the fact that they are constructed in modules or sections. These modules are usually built in a factory or workshop and then transported to the building site.
Tiny Homes, in particular, have become well known in the Airbnb and host share industry for being more cost-effective and better constructed than most stick-built homes while taking advantage of innovative materials and design to reduce energy usage.
Asking your home builder the right questions is the first step in any building process, and modular homes are no different.
At Turn Key Fabrication, we believe there is a simple solution to every problem, big or small. We’ve created this guide to assist you through the decision-making process and help you to ask the right questions. When you’re ready to build, we’re prepared to help you design and construct the perfect prefab for your needs.
Are you trying to find your dream home but coming up with no luck? What if you could design your home just the way you wanted to? Customizing a modular home is a great option.
Customization can make your home feel truly unique to you! Since modular homes are built off-site, it allows you to have more control over the ultimate build. Read below to find out more details on how you can design your dream home!
The truth is, Tiny Home living has been around for quite some time, and the pandemic has only helped to increase the popularity of the lifestyle. With growing desires for financial freedom, the rise of remote work, and the increased demand for eco-friendly building solutions, many people are moving towards a tiny or modular home.
Yet, so much remains misunderstood about the tiny home movement…
Tiny or modular homes are an excellent investment option for long-term rentals, vacation properties, and host share options like Airbnb or VRBO. But did you know you can also flip a tiny house or rent space for people to put their own nomadic home on?
You don’t have to go far to go tiny- there are some great communities right here in Texas! The tiny home movement is taking the United States by storm, and the need for spaces for these homes is growing just as fast. As Americans are working to experience more freedom, adventure, affordability, and reduce their eco-footprint, nomadic living is becoming increasingly desirable. Diving into the ‘tiny’ space can be confusing, but research has proven that they are an excellent investment.
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