Every year, the League of Women Voters of Concord-Carlisle sets up a fundraising event consisting of house tours throughout the district. In previous years, the object of these tours was to “wow” the guests with new constructions, expansive libraries, extravagant foyers, media rooms, and other lavish designs. This year, the tour is set up a little differently.
The League of Women Voters decided to change the focus of the houses on the tour to match our communities’ changing priorities. We are watching values shift from extravagant uses of large spaces, to maximizing smaller areas and creating room for energy-efficiency. This year’s home tours in Concord-Carlisle focus on the increasing popularity of energy-efficient homes. The tours consist of homes that incorporate important methods of energy conservation – including solar panels, air sealing, and insulation.
One couple chose to build an energy-efficient home in order to save money and make their home more sustainable. To begin their green construction, the couple examined options for sealing their home’s envelope. A home uses the least amount of energy when it is protected from outdoor weather—when homeowners can better control the indoor environment. The best method to seal a home, according to the homeowners featured on the tour, is to air seal and insulate. At Dolphin, we know all about these techniques and can help you maximize your home sealing in order to save you the most energy.
Some distinct features of one home on the tour include solar panels on the roof; wide windowsills to accommodate thickly insulated walls; and a fireplace that is only for show (which helps eliminate heat loss). The solar panels on this home provide 168 percent of electrical needs, including heating and cooling systems. This family also has an e-monitor to keep track of their energy use. This program not only calculates how much energy the home uses, but also tells the percent of the total energy that each device and area uses.
Another vital technique to make your home more energy efficient is to use rooms in your home for different purposes. Double your home office as a guest room, or combine your laundry room with a bathroom. The McMansions that are slowly fading out of popularity do not think in terms of multipurpose space. This is one major difference between the home tours of the last decade and the home tours of 2013. Ten years ago, this kind of tour would have been impossible due to the lack of energy-efficient homes, but this year the tour includes seven homes that have achieved this standard.
As the homes on the tour demonstrate, there are many different ways to make your home more energy-efficient, and the first step is to seal. These homeowners found that a home must first be air sealed and insulated in order to close it off from the outside weather. This step is also the most important for ensuring that any energy-saving steps you take will translate directly to savings. Sometimes the hardest part is not knowing where to start, but this tour in Concord-Carlisle helps clear up any doubts: the first step is sealing.