Energy-efficiency: the remodeling trend that’s here to stay

(BPT) – Remodeling trends come and go, which is a good thing if you’re talking about shag carpet or avocado-colored Formica. But some trends have both staying power and universal appeal, such as the strengthening movement toward homes that are more energy efficient and eco-friendly.

“Demand is high for homes that are not only attractive and comfortable, but also that perform well,” says Patrick L. O’Toole, editorial director and publisher of Professional Rebuilder magazine. “Today’s homeowners are looking for remodeling options that make their homes more energy-efficient. Cost-savings over the long-term and minimizing a home’s environmental footprint make energy-efficient remodeling very appealing to homeowners. At the same time, they’re not willing to sacrifice quality design and beauty.”

Upgrading a few key systems can help homeowners involved in remodeling projects improve their homes’ energy efficiency and operate their households in a more environmentally conscious way. If you’re planning some remodeling in the coming year, O’Toole suggests keeping these “green” points in mind:

Energy-efficient appliances

Household appliances account for nearly 35 percent of a home’s energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey. Reducing the amount of energy appliances consume can help homeowners lower utility bills and save hundreds of dollars over the lifetime of an appliance. The federal ENERGY STAR program provides consumers with a valuable reference when shopping for energy efficient appliances. A newer designation called “ENERGY STAR Most Efficient” recognizes the top products in their category for efficiency, across categories like appliances, TVs and electronics from leading brands like LG. This new classification can be especially helpful to environmentally-conscious consumers when they’re renovating, according to O’Toole.

“Increased awareness of the value of energy efficiency has made an ENERGY STAR rating a ‘must’ for many homeowners when they’re shopping for new appliances,” he says. “Replacing older, less efficient appliances with newer, ENERGY STAR-rated ones can both transform the look of a kitchen and ensure long-term cost savings while addressing climate change.”

Many remodelers today are seeking premium built-in design and innovative technology along with enhanced efficiency, all of which can be found in LG Studio appliances. This high-end suite of appliances, from refrigerators to cooktops, and wall ovens to dishwashers emphasizes savvy, state-of-the art design that is as user-friendly as they are efficient. For example, the 42-inch side-by-side refrigerator/freezer is ENERGY STAR-qualified and offers 26.5 cubic feet of capacity, and the SpacePlus Ice System that frees up valuable top-shelf space by moving the icemaker into the refrigerator door. Also, the counter-depth Door-in-Door Refrigerator provides a built-in and seamless look while the unique, Door-in-Door feature offers convenience and easy organization as well as keeping the cool air from escaping the refrigerator by not opening the main door.

Solar options

Solar energy is becoming increasingly practical and affordable for residential use. Currently, the most common uses for solar power in homes are in heating water and generating electricity.

Water heating accounts for nearly 18 percent of a home’s energy consumption, according to the Energy Information Administration survey. Replacing an older, less efficient electric water heater with an ENERGY STAR-qualified solar water heating system can reduce hot water costs by 50 percent, says. These heaters also reduce a home’s carbon dioxide emissions by half and can last as long as 20 years.

Installing rooftop solar panels can help save money on energy bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. After the initial installation investment, solar panels can quickly recoup their costs when used to generate electricity for a home. Many homeowners find that their solar panels not only supply all the electricity their homes need, but also generate an excess that homeowners can then sell back to the local electricity company, for additional cost savings. With new technologies from leading solar module makers like LG, installation is also becoming easier and cheaper.

More efficient cooling

Air conditioning accounts for more than 41 percent of the energy a home consumes, according to the Energy Information Administration. Yet O’Toole notes that in many regions of the country, going without A/C is not an option for many homeowners.

Fortunately, innovative options have emerged to help cool homes more efficiently, using less energy to produce better results. The Art Cool Gallery, for example, is a wall-mounted unit with a picture frame for customized artwork. It’s a duct-free way to deliver cool air to a room. An indoor unit delivers the cooled air and links to an outdoor unit via compact refrigerant lines that eliminate the need for bulky ductwork. The units are a great option for remodeling older homes where installing ductwork may not be practical.

“Design tastes change just as fashions do, but saving money will always be in style,” O’Toole says. “American homeowners have embraced the idea that remodeling can benefit both their wallets and the environment.”