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Amerisips Homes Charleston Custom Home Builder
Oct 262015
Happy Couple
October 26, 2015

For most of us, buying a home is the largest investment we will ever purchase. It’s the ultimate statement of personal accomplishment. However, you don’t just want any home, you want to build a dream home that is personalized for you and your family. Not someone else’s dream. So how do you start the process of building your dream home?

Step 1: Have a Budget

Determine Your Build BudgetIt’s exciting to start looking for homes when you know the time is near for having your own home. It’s possible you will research many homes in various price points to get ideas. That’s ok just to get ideas, but don’t let your wish list grow bigger than your budget.

Learn about your budget by contacting your bank or mortgage broker. They will provide you a “mortgage pre-qualification”, which is an estimate of what you can afford based on your income, employment, and bank and credit criteria. This is not a loan commitment.

Before moving on to other steps, this step is the most important. It gives you creditability and lets the homebuilder and/or real estate agent know you are a serious buyer. In most cases, they won’t give you much of their time without a mortgage pre-qualification.

Step 2: Have a Schedule

Your excitement builds and your plan is to be in your new home quickly. Be patient and do your research. There are an abundant number of new homebuilders in Charleston, SC and they all have something to offer. Some can deliver your dream home faster than others. Understand each homebuilder’s process and delivery schedule. Typically, production or track builders (i.e. developed neighborhoods with a couple floor plans and elevations available) will be faster than a custom homebuilder.

Learn more about Amerisips Homes process.

Step 3: Location, Location, Location

Now that you know your budget, you need to decide where you want to live. Location can determine your dream home style and size. Here are common residential locations:

Suburban – are common neighborhoods or communities within commuting distance to the city. The most common neighborhoods include shared amenities (i.e. pool, park, workout facility, etc.), but have association dues that help maintain shared spaces and keep your neighborhood looking great.
Urban – is city living. Property, land can be less than a half acre. Multi-story structures are common.
Rural – is an open swath of land that has few homes or other buildings, and not very many people. Property typically has enough acreage to build any size home you want and meets your budget (remember the budget). However, your commute to work and shopping could take a few extra minutes than those living in urban and suburban areas.

The Charleston, South Carolina area offers all three property types. If you need help with locating property, we can help.

Step 4: Your Dream Home Design

New Home DesignAs mentioned above, your property location (and budget) will determine your dream home design. In addition, your age may also be an important factor in your home design.

Young Professional: may not be married yet, but looking to invest instead of renting. Consider a small home design that will be easy to flip.
Young Married Couple: kids are in the future. Don’t think today, but tomorrow in your home design.
Empty Nesters: kids are gone; consider downsizing. Common trend are “aging in place” home designs.

Checkout our home designs or bring us your plan.

Step 5: Enjoy the Experience

Your dream home is now in the process of construction, relax and enjoy the experience. Expect some delays from time-to-time, which is common in new construction. Don’t be afraid to ask the builder questions throughout the process.

About Amerisips Homes

We integrate home design, architecture, engineering and home building all in one place. Our approach is to design and build custom homes with your long-term cost of living budget in mind along with showing your personality. Our homes not only include high-end features you’d expect in a custom home design, but also the main structure of our homes are engineered to reduce your energy demand, improved indoor air quality (a necessity for seniors and anyone with allergies) and can withstand winds up to 200 mph (see real life example).

When you decide to build your dream home, be sure to reach out and schedule some time with us during your new home research – I’m ready to learn more about Amerisips Homes.

Feb 032015

February 3, 2015

Dail Zimmerman, Director of Business Development for Amerisips Homes talks about our “Zero Energy Ready Home” winning home located on Johns Island, SC and energy-efficient new home construction technology available to reduce your energy demand and overall cost of home ownership.

Oct 022014

On September 29, the State of South Carolina approved another rate increase for SCE&G power users. The increase is about 3%, and will raise the cost of the average user’s utility bills by about $49 per year. It’s the seventh approved rate increase since 2009, with the cost of all seven increases combined for the average user reported to be over $233 according to The State. The utility serves about 675,000 customers in the state.

So what’s the answer?  The best way to manage utility costs long-term is to reduce your home’s need for them, and that’s our specialty!  Qualifying Amerisips homes receive State Energy rebates for Solar Panels for the home’s power and hot water–one of our award-winning homes has an average power cost of just over $300, not per month, but per year!  Imagine slicing your current utility bill by up to 85%!

Contact Dail Zimmermann at dail@amerisips.com today to ask about building your next home with Amerisips and stop spending hundreds of dollars too much on utilities each month…for as long as you own your Amerisips Home!

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Aug 312014
Sam Rashkin, Chief Architect in the DOE’s Building Technologies Office, presents Amerisips Custom Innovation Award

Sam Rashkin, Chief Architect in the DOE’s Building Technologies Office, presents Amerisips the Custom Innovation Award

August 31, 2014

Sam Rashkin, Chief Architect for the Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office, named builders of Zero Energy Ready Challenge Homes in the top 1% of their industry by demonstrating their ability to meet extraordinary guidelines in energy-efficient building!  As a certified Zero Energy Ready Home Partner and Housing Innovation Award Winner (A national award given by the DOE), Amerisips is leading energy-efficient building like no other builder in the region.  In fact, An Amerisips home right here in the Charleston area recently became the first certified ZERH in the state of South Carolina!


Take a look at the below excerpt from Sam Rashkin’s August 2014 DOE Update for more details and remember—no other builder in the area has the certifications, awards and credentials to build you a custom, energy-efficient home like Amerisips!  If you’re interested in discussing plans for YOUR new home, email dail@amerisips.com today.

August 2014

A note from Sam Rashkin: It’s Summertime and the Recognition is Easy…

How would you feel if you were having a complicated medical procedure and knew your doctor was in the top 1 percent of his or her field? Incredibly relieved and confident might describe your emotions. In a similar fashion, purchasing a new home is a very stressful experience because it is so overwhelming and costly. That’s why building DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes™ is a really big deal. It puts builders in the top 1% of their industry by demonstrating they are able to meet extraordinary guidelines for performance set by a trusted authority, the U.S. Department of Energy. This additional assurance is a significant advantage in an industry where research shows that 1 out of 3 buyers don’t trust the builder.

One Label…Many Badges of Honor

DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes are distinguished by a single DOE label, but behind this label are many badges of honor our partners can leverage to their benefit. A great example is the comprehensive, “A to Z” indoor air quality (IAQ) package found in DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes. Each qualifying home now includes the EPA’s Indoor airPLUS (IAP) certification to deliver this level of IAQ. This update took effect with the most recent revision to the U.S. Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home National Program Requirements (Rev. 04) and provides builders with unparalleled value messages that resonate with consumers. During this revision DOE/EPA addressed other feedback from builders including the garage ventilation provision, which now includes alternative compliance paths.  So instead of saying “trust me” – our builders can point to the Indoor airPLUS certification to demonstrate their home’s thoughtful, systems-approach to a healthful indoor environment. The “IAP” label on these homes means a 3rd-party certified home which delivers a more comfortable living environment, reduced pollutants, and improved combustion safety. By building to the DOE Zero Energy Ready specifications, you’ve earned the ability to promote your homes using these labels!

For more information on the EPA Indoor airPLUS program, including becoming a partner and marketing materials, please visit http://www.epa.gov/indoorairplus/join_now.html.

Jul 292014

Panel-house-roof-installJuly 29, 2014

In 2010, Dr. Allison Bailes, PhD Energy Vanguard wrote an article based upon her personal experience and inspection of various homes that used spray foam insulation.

She began the article by citing that it is a great product and outperforms  fiberglass batt-insulated, stick-built homes.  The remarkable thing about her article was her appreciation for how the building envelope should completely surround the conditioned space and in contact with the air barrier.  That said, the inspections she participated in found any and all of the following issues:

  1. Spray foam isn’t thick enough (more common with closed cell foam than open cell).
  2.  Spray foam installers missed some of the air leakage sites.
  3.  Spray foam installers didn’t understand the building envelope and sprayed either too little or too much.
  4.  Spray foam contracts and pulls away from framing

The homeowner she referred to had a house in Charleston, S.C. and provided the following video to describe the inconsistencies that contributed to the poor performance.

Her conclusion – “Don’t assume that just because a home is insulated with spray foam that it’s automatically a winner. Every product has its pitfalls, and spray foam is no exception. “

SIPs homes does not require spray or fiberglass insulation, but rather a consistent foam sandwiched between the OSB or MGO boards.  It is not subject to the pitfalls experienced in non-SIP homes.  With the better technology successfully being implemented here in Charleston, why build your home any other way?

Jul 222014

MGO-panel-installingJuly 22, 2014

That does seem silly doesn’t it. A Mercedes, BMW or other luxury car could weigh the same or less than a Pickup Truck, but if you compared value by price per pound, you would own a Pick up Truck!

The same comparison can be made for building a home with SIPs panels. The quality and energy efficiency is significantly higher, but if you priced the square footage per dollar, you’d probably own a poorly constructed (inviting mold, mildew and drafts) home that delivers poor air indoor quality to your family and for which your heating and cooling utility bills may triple the SIPs panel home envelope and energy features.

So the next time you are shopping with your professional real estate professional for a new home, change the paradigm. Compare what the house delivers (HERS ratings, savings, etc.) vs. square footage. You’ll find you can gain significantly more quality by seeing it through a new lens.

If your real estate professional doesn’t have information on SIPs homes, feel free to have them contact us (or contact us directly) and we will be happy to provide information, either in documentation or by meeting with us.

Jul 172014

Leed-for-home-logoJuly 17, 2014

The European Solar Decathlon award went to a Home design that realized that reusing is more sustainable than rebuilding.
It featured
• Passive and active solar elements photovoltaics)
• LED electrical lighting throughout
• Heat/Fresh air exchanger
• Water reclamation and low-flush
LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council is awarded to homes and commercial properties which reflect a high emphasis on energy efficiency that surpasses Energy Star ratings. This makes the home not only sustainable, but highly economical to live in as well.
Amerisips homes is a USGBC LEED ceritified builder of high performance energy efficient homes in Charleston, SC

Jul 172014

Photovoltaic systems are rampantly being installed across the U.S.

Chicago became the epicenter for LEED-certified buildings more than a decade ago with the opening of the Chicago Center for Green Technology and now has the most LEED-certified projects in the U.S .

Photovoltaic systems are the most popular installation among homeowners, and California stands as the top state for solar energy. The Convention Center houses one of the largest public-facility solar installations on the West Coast, generating 1 million kilowatt-hours of pollution-free electricity.

The top 10 states for Solar power are:
1. California
2. 2. by encouraging solar tech and PV manufacturing.
3. Connecticut
4. Maryland
5. Massachusetts
6. Minnesota
7. New
8. New
9. Oregon
10. Pennsylvania

With the very generous Federal and State Tax Credits available, South Carolina endeavors to join the Top 10.
We’re Amerisips, and we build energy efficient homes that offer “Free Energy Living”.

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Jul 042014

solar-thermal-solsticeSouth Carolina’s electricity prices have increased 37% in the past five years, and that number may go up with the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed guidelines to slash carbon emissions from S.C. power plants, according to electricity cooperatives.

The proposed EPA guidelines, which were announced in early June, would require states to reduce carbon emission rates — the ratio of carbon emissions to energy produced — from power plants by a certain percentage by 2030. Though the EPA aims to cut emissions rates by 30% overall, the rate cuts vary state to state.

“We also have great potential for solar thanks to the solar bill that passed this spring.” said Conservation Voters of South Carolina Program Director Alan Hancock, referring to a bill that allows residents to lease solar panels without paying high up-front costs. Making existing coal plants operate more efficiently could further reduce the emissions target by 5%.”

Between the generous Federal Energy credits offered for Solar panels and the capability to lease panels, there is very little reason not to build your new home and lower your monthly expenses at the same time!

Start with an airtight building envelope with solar panels to maximize your energy consumption.  Start with Amerisips.

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Jul 032014

charlestonIt all started when Charleston was voted the top U.S. City and top Destination in the World by Condé Nast Traveler in the 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards. This is the fourth consecutive year the historic coastal destination has received the No. 1 U.S. City recognition in the Condé Nast Reader’s Choice issue, which hits newsstands on July 18.  It also achieved the 2nd in Best Cities in the World, moving up five spots from #7 last year!

Movot Real Estate also ranked Charleston high in several categories, starting at #2 overall.  For the culinary inclined, you’ll love to know that it ranked #4 for Best American Cities for Foodies!  Thinking about romance?  Charleston ranked #4 in Most Romantic Getaways in the World, and #13 in Best Destinations in the U.S.

And our favorite, Daniel Island was selected among the top 50 master communities planned, and as one of the top locations for retirement in Retirement and Good Living.

With so many reasons to live in Charleston, the decision is easy.  It is also an easy decision to take advantage of building a healthy home that starts with a tight building envelope and offers you “Free Energy Living.”

Come home to Charleston in a home built by Amerisips. 

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Jul 032014

solar-panelsHomebuilders and industry experts say the number of newly constructed homes with a solar energy system pre-installed is surging, from a few hundred units a decade ago to tens of thousands of units entering the market today.  Amerisips Homes is by far the most prolific builder of homes using the sun to substantially cut high utility bills.  It is expected from data in the McGraw Hill Construction and National Association of Homebuilders, that more than half of all U.S. homebuilders are expected to offer solar PV energy systems as an option by 2016, up 12% in 2013.

Experience plays a big part in the positioning of solar collectors for maximum efficiency.  Many home builders don’t start as they should, with calculations of maximum results based upon modeling of the sun’s path, but instead use aesthetics or ease of installation.  While they will still produce, it will be far less effective.

“Solar panels are a very visible manifestation of a home’s construction,” Kevin Morrow, NAHB’s director of sustainability and green building, said in an interview. “Increasingly, people understand what they can do for them, either by reducing their environmental footprint or by reducing their energy costs.”

Experts say estimates of energy costs savings from home-based solar systems vary widely from home to home and depend on multiple factors, including local solar intensity, the size and configuration of the solar system, the amount of energy consumed by a home’s electrical systems, and a home’s overall “thermal envelope,” or its ability to hold cool air on hot days and warm air on cold days.  Amerisips Homes starts with a tight SIPs building envelope.  In most cases the HERS rating is in the single digits (a result of a blower door test for air tightness).

And with the Federal energy credits, most additional mortgage costs are lower than what the homeowner would have paid for electricity in a conventional grid-connected home.

Sophistication and technology have come a long way.  Gone are the massive frames and PV panels that we used to see.  Modern solar technologies allow for a lower profile system that are slightly raised or flush mounted to a rooftop.

Visit any of Amerisips homes and you will see how we harness the sun to deliver you a home with “Free Energy Living”.sm


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Jun 302014

The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes shot up in May. But the pace of buying this year remains slower than in 2013, in part because of sluggish sales during winter.

pgBG_EnjoyingThe National Association of Realtors said Monday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 6.1 percent to 103.9 last month. It was the sharpest month-over-month gain since April 2010. The index remains 5.2 percent below its level a year ago.

Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a contract and a completed sale.

Lower mortgage rates and increased supplies of homes on the market drove much of last month’s gains. Signed contracts rose in all four U.S. regions: the Northeast, Midwest, South and West.

The housing market is finally showing signs of momentum, though overall buying remains slower than last year.

“The sector continues to put the horrid [winter] weather behind it and is moving on,” said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets. “It certainly helps that confidence is higher, borrowing costs are slipped from the start of the year and it is reportedly becoming less strenuous to obtain a mortgage.”

In a separate report last week, the Realtors said completed sales of existing homes rose 4.9 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million homes. Still, sales are down 5 percent year-over-year.

The Realtors forecast that sales of existing homes will decline 2.8 percent this year to 4.95 million, compared with 5.1 million in 2013.

Sales of new homes jumped 18.6 percent last month to an annual rate of 504,000, the highest level since May 2008, the government said last week.

Two sources of friction in the housing market have recently eased: Mortgage rates and supplies of homes for sale.

Sales began to slow in the second half of last year as mortgage rates crept up from historic lows and prices rose further, making it less affordable for many Americans to buy. There were also too few homes for sale, which meant that would-be buyers had to delay their purchases until they had more options from which to choose.

Average rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages declined to 4.17 percent last week, down from 4.20 percent the previous week. Mortgage rates are about a quarter of a percentage point higher than at the same time last year.

The supply of homes for sale has also risen. The number rose 2.2 percent in May to 2.28 million. The supply is 6 percent higher than a year ago, which analysts say should help slow price growth and boost sales.

So why wait for prices to rise?  This is the time to build the home  you’ve always wanted.

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Jun 302014

MtPleasantMagazineAd063014Check out the new Amerisips Homes ad in Mount Pleasant Magazine on pg. 78! We are so excited to partner with this fantastic and free publication. http://mountpleasantmagazine.com/julyaug2014/

Whether you already own property, or want to learn about the communities where your new home might be situated, Call us about building your energy efficient home today!

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Jun 252014

commercial-leed-adoption“Green” seems to be overtaking the market by force in most cities.  Adoption of green standards in the U.S. has increased significantly since 2005. During that time, the adoption of Energy Star for office buildings increased to more than 10% of the market and the proportion of buildings that are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified increased from less than 0.5% in 2005 to 5%.  Measured by floor area, numbers are even higher: LEED-certified space now totals 19.4% of the total building stock in the 30 office markets reviewed in the project. Energy Star buildings represent about 30% of the commercial office market.

Green building has overtaken the commercial market and grown significantly – in less than a decade.  This is in addition to the already expansive “green” residential market.

Who knew that would be possible in the otherwise traditional and slow-moving real estate market. With different uses of space, it will only be a matter of time until the next innovation will blossom, taking advantage of the SIPs capabilities. In the meantime, the implications of better, greener building will increasingly be felt in the real estate market.

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Jun 242014

newnetzeroThinking of getting off the grid or just significantly cutting your energy use? A new book by architect William Maclay outlines how to do just that.

His new book, “The New Net Zero: Leading-Edge Design and Construction of Homes and Buildings for a Renewable Energy Future” is comprised of detailed architectural drawings and impressive charts to show that net-zero-energy buildings (those that make as much or more energy than they consume) not only offers long-term advantages for the planet, but can also save their owners money from the start.

Within the 576 pages of his book, you will not find a single strategy for getting to net zero, but an à la carte menu of technologies and inspirations, including a generous number of examples conceived by other firms and examples of homes from Vermont to Boston, and Utah. This should be required reading for anyone considering building a new home. Education is your best friend!

Our “Free Energy Living”sm tagline adheres to the same principles of reaching beyond the hefty consumption of the traditional built homes and re-inventing the paradigm.  Read the full article and interview from the New York Times here, and then explore our site to see how we can help build the future, together.

Jun 132014

energy-use“Among the characteristics that home buyers are increasingly looking for in a home is energy efficiency. In fact, in a recent National Association of Home Builder survey of homebuyer preferences, energy efficiency features topped the list of desirable items.

For example, the survey data indicate that 94 percent of home buyers want energy-star rated appliances, 91 percent want an energy-star rating for the home and 89 percent want energy-star rated windows.

However, surveys of home buyers also indicate that cost and payback time horizons remain concerns when selecting energy efficient features. For example, the 2012 NAHB survey found that the average home buyer was willing to pay $7,095 more for a home to reduce energy costs by $1,000 annually. This suggests a required 14 percent rate of return. And this rate-of-return requirement increases for more cash constrained lower-income and first-time buyers. First-time home buyers demand on average a nearly 16 percent rate of return, according to the survey.

The good news for home buyers is that the nation’s housing stock is becoming more energy efficient through remodeling. And newly-constructed homes tend to be more efficient than older homes with respect to energy use, particularly as measured on a per square foot basis.”

The Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration Residential Energy Consumption Surveys data provides proof. Using the 2009 data, the chart reports per household member and per square foot energy use by year of construction for homes. There are clear energy efficiencies available for newer homes, including notable benefits for homes built after 1970.

Households in homes built in the 2000s use on average 37.1 thousand British Thermal Units (BTUs) per square foot annually, while homes from the 1980s use 43.5 thousand BTUs per square foot. For homes built before 1940, which account for about 15 percent of the housing stock, annual per square foot energy usage rises to an average of 51.6 thousand BTUs.

Why start with something that was constructed poorly when you are looking to buy a home when you can build an energy efficient home with a tight envelope?

excerpt from article by Robert Dietz

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Jun 092014

How much water are YOU wasting?

Saving water while keep lawns looking green through the summer is not as hard as homeowners might think. Whether it’s using the proper products or watering at the correct time, we can do a lot to help cut down on water bills and wasted water.

WaterSense, which is a partnership program with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has put together a few facts on how much water is actually wasted and what can be done to help the problem.



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Jun 052014


It is reported from Associated Press that South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. wants to raise its rates 3 percent to help cover the cost of building two new nuclear reactors.

The utility serves about 675,000 customers in the state and filed the rate request late on Friday with state regulators.  The increase, amounting to about $50 a year for the average electric customer, would help cover the $70 million in construction costs during the past year for the new reactors at the V.C. Summer nuclear in Fairfield County near Columbia.

If you built a home with Amerisips and chose to receive State Energy rebates for Solar Panels for your power and hot water, you could be laughing about this, but it is not a laughing matter for most homeowners.  We just chatted with someone who rents a small home and has utility bills in the $400 range per month!  Imagine slicing that by 85%…. its not a dream, it could be your reality.

Unfortunately, just having solar panels installed on a poorly constructed and drafty home (too much air is lost through roofs and walls) will not yield as much savings as a tight SIPs building envelope.  Let us work with you to help you reduce your bills and own the house that you’ve always wanted.


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Jun 042014

solar-panels A study by Quercia, who is also a professor in the city and regional planning department in the College of Arts and Sciences and a faculty fellow at the Center for Urban and Regional Studies, and the study’s other authors Nikhil Kaza, research fellow at the UNC Center for Community Capital, assistant professor in the city and regional planning department and adjunct assistant professor in the environment and ecology department, and Chao Yue Tian, research associate at the UNC Center for Community Capital reports the following: The risk of mortgage default is one-third lower for energy-efficient, Energy Star-rated homes—a factor lenders and Congress should consider when making mortgage loans and policy.   “Our study findings now show that energy efficiency is strongly and consistently associated with lower mortgage lending risk, lenders and policymakers have one more reason to promote it.”

“Home Energy Efficiency and Mortgage Risks” was released by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Center for Community Capital and the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting energy efficiency. The report can be downloaded here.

The new report is the first academic study to assess the linkages between home energy efficiency and mortgage risks. It uses a sample of 71,000 home loans from 38 states and the District of Columbia, all derived from CoreLogic’s mortgage database. The sample is restricted to single-family, owner-occupied houses whose loans originated during 2002-2012 and were used for purchase only.

About 35 percent of the houses in the sample were Energy Star-rated for efficiency, with the rest forming a control group. Controlling for other factors, the odds of a mortgage default on an Energy Star residence are one-third lower than those of a home in the control group. A mortgage holder on an Energy Star residence is also one-quarter less likely to prepay. Since lenders consider prepayment a risk, these loans are potentially more valuable to them.

“It stands to reason that energy-efficient homes should have a lower default rate, because the owners of these homes save money on their utility bills, and they can put that money toward their mortgage payments,” said Cliff Majersik, executive director of IMT. “We long believed this to be the case, and now this study proves it. Successful housing market reforms will require reconsidering the risk factors in mortgage default, including energy costs.”

The authors recommend that Congress consider the study findings in its deliberation of current and proposed legislation to improve the accuracy of mortgage underwriting. They also conclude that lenders may want to require an energy audit or rating as part of the mortgage underwriting process, and that federal housing agencies could promote underwriting flexibility for mortgages on energy-efficient homes.

American households spend around $230 billion each year on energy, not including transportation, and the residential sector accounts for 20 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States. Energy efficiency in the residential sector has a potential to save $41 billion annually, according to research by McKinsey & Company.

Any builder can purchase and slap solar collectors on your roof, but to build a structure that supports energy conservation and efficiency and integrate the systems… that takes experience.  Call us to see how professionals can do it and gain tax credits too.
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May 202014

pgBG_EnjoyingForbes magazine recently named the city of Mt Pleasant as one of the top suburbs in which to retire in the U.S.  The cost of living that is 3% below the U.S. average played a large part in balancing out the higher than average median home price of the area.  Added to that were such positive attributes as proximity to larger cities offering opportunities for employment, recreation, and high quality of living.

Combine this with Amerisip’s “Free Energy Living”sm, and you have a great place to retire with a significantly lower that average cost of living.

Whether you own property, are looking for property, or seeking a great area to live, Amerisips Homes can build for you.

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May 132014


This building envelope is typical for Charleston, SC new homes:
Very Leaky and Poorly Insulated.

  • The building envelope is the single, greatest factor effecting a home’s energy costs and comfort.leaky-house-view
  • Indoor air quality and other operating costs like maintenance and durability are directly dependent on the building envelope.
  • It is the most permanent feature of a home and the hardest to correct and improve once its built.

In our healthy, indoor air quality blogs we talk about the importance of having control over the building envelope. The same is true for our energy costs. Heating and cooling represents the biggest energy use by far but it makes little sense to invest in efficient mechanical systems without a way of controlling that valuable conditioned air.  Building Envelopes deserve much more attention than heating and cooling systems for most home building projects.

“Stick framing” or traditional framing with studs on exterior walls, creates lots of opportunities for air leaks and cold spots. Any where there is an air leak or cold spot there is also an opportunity for mold to develop. This antique framing could be performing MUCH better with a functional air barrier and exterior insulated sheathing.

Despite the advancements in building envelope products and techniques most of the home building industry has made little improvement in this area for the past 50 years. Thank goodness that building and energy codes will soon be forcing the industry to improve. Building envelopes are at the center of the dramatic shift our industry is about to face.



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May 052014

rain-garden“A sustainable garden works in harmony with nature”

  • Plant trees, which will cool your home in the summer and help store carbon from the atmosphere in the soil
  • Grow your own food in order to reduce the distance your food travels before it arrives in your kitchen.
  • Compost in order to feed your garden while reducing what you put in your trash can.
  • Use native plants, which are typically climate-friendly and water-wise.

Use permeable pavers instead of concrete or blacktop for water run off, and install rain gardens for low areas to add beauty as well as interest.

There are so many options to live in harmony with the Earth.  Leaving a small carbon footprint by Free Energy Livingsm makes all the sense in the world!

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Apr 272014

nest-controllerThe Charleston Post & Courier newspaper covered a story on energy efficient homes, features and construction in the greater Charleston area.  Featured was Amerisips Building Sciences and the energy efficient approach & construction they undertake, which is far superior.  The article promoted local homebuilders who conserve costs and owners who buy into the alternative energy sources that pass along savings and reduce fossil footprint.

View the P&C  Article here.

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Apr 222014

solar-thermal-solsticeSouth Carolina has laid the groundwork to significantly expand its use of solar.  There are no lofty renewable goals or thousands of megawatts of rooftop solar systems and farms under contract.  But the framework is there to loosen restrictions on net metering, create financing arrangements for solar panels and encourage utilities to add more solar to their electricity mix.

“Across the South, states like North Carolina and Georgia have already moved to take advantage of local, affordable solar power, and this compromise legislation is what South Carolinians have been waiting for,” said Katie Ottenweller, leader of Southern Environmental Law Center’s Solar Initiative, in a statement. “With smart, forward-looking policies in place, the state’s solar market can and will grow rapidly, bringing enormous benefits to the people of South Carolina.”

A new bill amends a 2013 measure (S.B. 536) that would open the door for solar companies, such as SunRun and SolarCity, to sell solar panels as well as the electricity at a fixed rate over a 10- or 20-year time frame. Doing so would let a homeowner or business finance the panels and alleviate pricey upfront costs, making solar more economical right away.

Here in  S.C., South Carolina Electric & Gas installed a 2.6 MW solar farm at Boeing’s manufacturing facility in 2011. The utility also plans to add a total of 20 MW of solar energy from large-scale solar farms over the next three years, significantly boosting the utility’s solar output.

At Amerisips Building Sciences, we first design the home with solar optimization in mind.  We perform a Sun Study of your property and home to locate the best placement to leverage your investment towards Free Energy Livingsm.  Once your home is constructed with our airtight SIPs envelope, we install High Performance Systems to take full advantage of the solar thermal and solar hydronics.  We are most likely the only design and construction company in Charleston who designs and constructs your new home with planned integration and execution excellence.

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Apr 022014

hers-amerisips-chartMany people look to save money while buying a new home. Its human nature to try to obtain the best value for your spending dollar.  And on the outside, and even after the engineering inspection, the home may appear a good deal…but is it really?

Let’s consider that you and your growing family will most likely live in that home for the average time period of 10-15 years..maybe longer.

If it is an older home, it may or may not have had a blower test to test for air leakages.  Blower door testing helps identify key issues with air sealing details.

The blower door is a powerful tool to help builders and homeowners identify specific leakage areas. It is a tool that provides details in the thermal shell of homes. It is a tool that helps improve quality in the performance of the home’s thermal shell and by not requiring the use of this tool we dramatically decrease the purpose of HERS ratings. A home that has not been tested in said to have a default value of 100.  Many older homes have a significantly higher number (a lower number is very desirable).  Defaults do not lead to better homes.  Homes that are not tested or have high HERS ratings will not meet the standards of efficiency,comfort, and durability that we achieve. These homes will be leakier, less comfortable, more polluted, and less durable than they otherwise could be.  The owner will pay more for air conditioning and heat, allow more dampness into the home (building mildew and mold within the walls).  Over the course of home ownership, the ‘good deal’ turns into an expensive proposition financially, as well as influencing the health of the family.

A traditional stick built house may be your worst nightmare.  We build with Structures Insulated Panels throughout your home.  Our building envelope is so tight, a HERs rating of 0-10 is not unheard of for our homes.  “0” represents a “net zero energy” goal attainment.  Our air quality is so good, we earn the AirPlus certification by the EPA, as well as LEED certification.

So let’s re-visit the resale quest.  If you knew you could buy and live in a healthy home that saved you on your energy bills through it’s lifetime.  And the build timeframe was equivalent to the purchase of a resale, you have to be asking yourself, if that resale is really worth the price.

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Mar 272014

air-plus-logo-150x150In new estimates released Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported about 7 million people died as a result of air pollution exposure in 2012.

This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk as 1 in every 8 deaths is linked to it.

In particular, the new research reveals a stronger connection between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and heart disease, as well as cancer. The report also found air pollution plays a role in the development of respiratory diseases, including acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

The new estimates used improved measurements and technology, enabling scientists to make a more detailed analysis of health risks from a wider demographic spread that now includes both urban and rural areas.

With an Amerisips SIPS home, your indoor air quality earns the highest level of certification by the EPA.  You can literally ‘breath easy’.  No other home builder offers you that… what is it worth to you and your family to reduce your odds?

Included in the assessment is a breakdown of deaths attributed to specific diseases, which shows the vast majority of air pollution deaths are tied to cardiovascular diseases.

Indoor Air Pollution-caused deaths—Breakdown by Disease:

  • 34 percent: Stroke
  • 26 percent: Ischaemic heart disease
  • 22 percent: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • 12 percent: Acute lower respiratory infections in children
  • 6 percent: Lung cancer
Mar 202014

solar-thermal-solstice“Gary and Debbie Sweet, looking for information about putting solar panels on their house, attended a recent meeting in Manchester organized by state energy officials, bankers and solar installers. Sweet, an architect, said solar panels could slash his electricity costs.

“It doesn’t cost me anything. Why not?” he said.

The cost to homeowners is significantly reduced, and although it’s touted by Connecticut as a “once in a lifetime bargain,” it’s not free. Glenn Cucinell, solar division manager at Encon Solar Energy Division, which won the contract to install solar panels on homes in Manchester, said a typical system in Connecticut would cost about $24,000.

After a state rebate of about $8,000 and a 30 percent federal tax credit available for the remaining $16,000, a homeowner’s cost for a residential solar system would be cut by more than half, to $8,000 to $12,000, which can be paid for in long-term financing.

Connecticut’s subsidy is not unusual. Virtually every state offers loans, grants, rebates and other incentives to support broader use of residential solar panels, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. “It’s an incentive driven industry at this point,” Cucinell said.”

South Carolina and the Federal Government support solar energy credits in a big way.  And that, combined with a tight building envelope with Amerisips SIP panels and high performance MEP systems, is the essence of the Amerisips Free Energy Living<sup>sm</sup> home.

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Feb 272014


New Study Shows Likes & Dislikes

GuildQuality, a leading provider of customer satisfaction surveying for the residential building industry, recently conducted a national survey of homeowners who purchased a National Green Building Standard (NGBS) certified green home built within the past three years. The study, commissioned by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) aimed to uncover how green homeowners feel after purchasing their home; primarily focusing on their overall satisfaction and whether they would recommend purchasing a green home to others.

Key findings of the study reveal:

  • 94% would recommend a green home to a friend.
  • 92% would purchase another green home.
  • 71% of respondents believe that green homes are, overall, of higher quality.
  • 55% knew their home may have cost more than a non-green home, but believed the benefits outweighed the cost.
  • 90% were satisfied knowing they “did the right thing” in buying a green home.

Homeowners also provided their feedback on what influenced their decision to purchase a green home, and the sustainable features they value most. According to respondents, low utility bills, energy efficiency and better insulation topped the list of the green-related aspects that homeowners were most satisfied with.

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Feb 242014

Wrong Question. Ask How Much Solar Panels Can Save You

Originally published on Cost Of Solar.

OK, it’s true, How Much Are Solar Panels? can be a useful question. But, really, this question is largely of minimal importance today. Either through $0 down loans or 3rd-party-ownership models that let you lease a solar power system instead of buying one, most residents and businesses with a decent roof or ground space for solar panels should have an opportunity to go solar without buying the entire solar panel systems up front.

The real questions — the real ways in which going solar affects your finances — is in how much it saves you and how soon or when it starts to save you money.

I recently created the short infographic below to highlight the 20-year savings from going solar in some of the most populous states in the country, as well as in Hawaii, which has the greatest average savings per project.

Notably, those savings are based on 2011 research. The cost of solar has dropped tremendously since then, so the savings should be even greater (on average). Unfortunately, I haven’t seen more recent research on this matter. The specific data points — average 20-year savings from going solar — for those states are as follows:

•California: $34,260
•New York: $31,166
•Florida: $33,284
•Texas: $20,960
•Hawaii: $64,769
These numbers were included in a cool solar power infographic I shared last week. However, the map displaying these numbers was number 3 of 4. I’ve gone ahead and pulled out this key map and will insert it below so that you can see savings in your specific state if you don’t live in one of the four most populous states or Hawaii.

These savings are tremendous. Even the national average (again, in 2011, when solar panels were much more expensive) is above $20,000! How much are solar panels… going to save me? That’s the question to ask. (Of course, you can request a quote on Cost of Solar to get a savings estimate and even a follow-up site visit for a more exact estimate, and it will also give you an estimate of how much solar panels for your house or business will cost.)






Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2014/02/03/much-can-solar-panels-save/#RRK5gtX9dHVageAP.99

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