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Amerisips Homes Charleston Custom Home Builder
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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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. 

 Blog  Comments Off on Charleston Voted #1 City in the U.S. and Canada for the 4th Time!
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

 Blog  Comments Off on Wanted: Energy Efficient Home in Charleston
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.

water-part1

water-part2

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Jun 052014
 

nest-controller

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 252014
 

mgo-lowes-shedWord about a good thing travels fast, and now, even Lowes has recognized the amazing value (superior strength, and not prone to mold, mildew, termite and fire, to name a few) and capability that is intrinsic in a MGO SIP structure by offering garden and tool sheds to the public.  Lowes customers can now purchase a new line of structural insulated panel (SIP) sheds available in sizes ranging from 8’ x 8’ through 10’ x 16’.  Lowes.com currently offers three models, 8×8, 8×10 and 8×12, that range in price from $2,700 to $3,500.They are made of SIPs with magnesium oxide facings—a durable weather-resistant sheathing that functions as an exterior finish material.

Imagine your entire house (and a potting shed if you would like it too) constructed with this advantage!  That’s what Amerisips is doing.  But let us be vigilant about the quality.  Not all MGO Panels are equal, and many coming from overseas have quality issues.  Ours are born and bred in the U.S. and manufactured under JAS/ANZ CODEMARK Conformity Certification.

Magnesium Oxide SIPs panels are the next generation of SIPs panels having a superior fire rating to traditional fiber cement and OSB SIPs panels. The MGO Corp products are fully approved internal and external sheathing products. These certifications are recognized throughout 20 counties worldwide. Amerisips uses the only Magnesium Oxide Board available in the USA and South America with these certifications in place for its products.

Our panels have superior fire ratings to standard SIP panels. The loading of the MGO SIP panel is superior to CSIP and OSB SIP panels allowing the application of SIP panels to the building process for a wider range of projects.

What does this mean to you? A Stronger Eco Efficient home that allows you to design your rooms where you want it, with minimal need for weight bearing supports that typically reduces the interior of the home. We call it the EcoShell™.

 

 

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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.

thermal-bridgin-chart

stickVSIP-heatloss

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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.

 Blog  Comments Off on Solar Panels
Feb 272014
 

small-solar-home

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.

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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.)

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

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Feb 212014
 

light-bulbsFor most home lighting, your choice boils down to three options, from most to least expensive:

  • LEDs
  • Fluorescents (including CFLs)
  • Energy-efficient (halogen) incandescents, which meet the government’s new energy efficiency standards and aren’t being phased out.

Related: Energy-efficient light bulbs are just one way to take back your energy bills.

So how do you choose?

Learn the New Light Bulb Language

Since January 1, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission has required a new “Lighting Facts” label. It was designed to help consumers break the habit of picking bulbs based on wattage to determine brightness. Now a metric called lumens is used for this task. Wattage only measures the amount of power a light bulb consumes.

Confused? Here’s an example: If you want to replace a 100-watt incandescent with an LED bulb and get the same brightness as the old bulb, you’d need a 27-watt LED bulb with an output of 1,600 lumens.

How to Read the New Label

While the new light bulb lingo sounds pretty complicated, it’s not once you get the gist. Here’s a breakdown of the “Lighting Facts” label:

Brightness: Here’s a quick tip: the brighter the light bulb, the higher the number. Standard bulbs range from 250 to 2,600 lumens.

Estimated Yearly Energy Cost: How does this add up? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, by upgrading 15 traditional incandescents in your home with energy-saving bulbs, you can save about $50 per year on your energy bill. Plus, energy-efficient bulbs produce about 75% less heat, so you may see additional savings when it comes to home cooling.

Life: The life of each bulb is estimated based on the usage described. Keep in mind that labels marked Energy Star meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
Energy Star LEDs use about 25% of the energy and can last about 25 times longer than traditional incandescents.

Energy Star CFLs use about 25% of the energy and last 10 times longer than a comparable traditional incandescent.

Light Appearance: Terms such as “soft white” don’t mean the same thing from brand to brand. To compare bulbs, you need to know their color temperature, which is measured in kelvins on a scale of 1,000 (the warmest — think candlelight) to 10,000 (the coolest — like a blue sky). LEDs, CFLs, and halogen incandescents all come in a wide range of color temperatures.

Here’s a quick kelvin breakdown for easy reference:

  • The 2700–3000K range is warm and inviting.
  • 3500K casts a neutral light.
  • 4100K casts a cool and bright light.
  • The 5500K-6500K range is closest to daylight.

Energy Used: As we mentioned above, wattage now only measures energy usage, not brightness. So the lower the wattage, the less energy used.

Contains Mercury: Have no fear; only CFLs have a small amount of mercury, so you won’t see this if you are purchasing LEDs or energy-efficient (halogen) incandescents.

What’s Not on the Label?

Not all specs are covered on the FTC label.  So we suggest searching for bulbs online if you’re seeking something really specific. You can often find the necessary info on manufacturers’ websites. Stuff you can look for includes:

How well the bulb shows off colors and textures. This is the key to whether you’ll be satisfied with the quality of light you get. Look for the color rendering index (CRI), a measurement of 1 to 100. The higher the bulb’s score, the better.

Incandescent halogen bulbs score a perfect 100. CFLs and LEDs don’t fare as well as a group, although some individual bulbs get high scores.

How the bulb casts off its light (in technical terms, beam spread). Let’s say you use track lighting to highlight a piece of artwork. “If you want to light a 15×9-in. picture on the wall, you don’t need a 4×4-ft. spread of light,” Witte says. “To be energy-efficient, match the beam spread with the task, putting light only where you need it.”

-reproduced from HouseLogic

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Feb 192014
 

scott-south-pole-station

The basic ingredient of any energy efficient design is the building envelope.  When it comes to building high performance buildings, there are few products on the market that offer the benefit of SIPs.  When the National Science Foundation needed to replace the Amundsen – Scott South P ole Station located at the Southern most point of Earth, Structural Insulated Panels were chosen for the building envelope skin of the $152.9 million project.  The project location offers some of the most extreme weather conditions on Earth with blizzards, gale force winds and temperatures dropping below minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  The South Pole Station is among the highest performance buildings in the world with regards to conservation of heat energy.  In addition to the air tight qualities and superior insulating values, SIPs also aided logistical issues as one of the benefits of the system is the ability to prefabricate building components into easy to install kits that can be crated and shipped anywhere in the world.

You can afford this high performance technology for  YOUR home.  There IS a Better Way to Build

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Feb 112014
 

SIPs
There must be 50 shades of “Green”… all trying to tell you about how energy efficient they are.  But there is a Better Shade of Green”…and that’s what we use to build our homes.

The photo on the left is the interior of our latest Structured Insulated Panel Eco-Shell home.  The interior walls are constructed with Magnesium Oxide panels with foam core.  Why is this better than stick and wallboard with insulation?   Because it is solid, and straight.  It is energy conserving with more integrated insulation that doesn’t fall or break down.  Termites, palmetto bugs, and other multi-legged creatures will not find the insulation attractive to breed, especially since it is treated with Borate which is safe.  There are no off-gases or VOCs omitted, so you truly have a healthy home – not one that just looks pretty.  And this interior board substantially eliminates allergies too because there is no place for mold to develop and grow inside your walls.

Pretty darn amazing, right?  I’ll bet you think you can’t afford a healthy home… we bet you can.  Visit us and we’ll show you how you can have a healthy home that is also so energy efficient it is LEED Certified by the U.S. Green Builder’s Council.

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Feb 052014
 

small-solar-homeA report on the Housing Needs Assessment was just recently published for the Berkley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments by the Charleston Zoning and Planning Departments.

A key finding cited the following:

  • “61% of the housing types in the region are single-family, detached; however, with this housing type may not be as desirable in the future.
  •  More affordable, alternative housing types such as townhouses, rowhouses, and apartments comprise only 27% of the region’s housing stock. This is not amenable to small household sizes or the renting population.”

Amerisips believes all its clients are created equal.  This means that we will build a smaller home with equal quality as a larger home.  Just because your family does not need 3,000 sf, doesn’t mean your only option is an ‘off the shelf’ track home or townhouse.

Our high-performance homes utilize the latest technology and highest quality we can provide to deliver a home that meets your lifestyle and budget, and can deliver reduced costs through solar options.Why not buy a home that delivers reduced monthly costs?  Want to enjoy your home and leave a legacy?  A small ecological footprint, energy efficiency, and reduced power payments can deliver to you and your children for years to come.

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Jan 202014
 

starbucks-sips The residential use of SIPs is leaping beyond it’s once believed boundary, and into the commercial sector.

In the November/December issue of Commercial Construction & Renovation magazine, Premier SIPs Technical Manager Joe Pasma writes about the use of structural insulated panels (SIPs) in retail stores. The article mentions both 7-11 and Starbucks as forward-looking corporations looking to reduce their energy use by specifying SIPs in their stores.

 

In the article, Pasma discusses the following benefits of using SIPs in retail construction:

 

  • SIP-built structures are more airtight than stick-framed buildings
  • SIPS provide continuous insulation throughout a building’s walls and roof
  • SIP-built retail stores look no different than stores built with traditional construction, preserving the signature architecture of national and regional chains
  • SIPs help speed up construction
  • SIPs are compatible with nearly any type of building system, including poured concrete or block foundations

Read the full article here.