Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Energy Efficient Homes & Appliances

According to the U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Department of Energy recently announced the availability of nearly $300 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for rebate programs and consumer purchases of new ENERGY STAR qualified energy efficient appliances.

The new program underscores the Obama Administration's commitment to make American homes more energy efficient, while helping to support the nation's economic recovery.

"Appliances consume a huge amount of our electricity, so there's enormous potential to both save energy and save families money every month," said US Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "These rebates will help families make the transition to more efficient appliances, making purchases that will directly stimulate the economy and create jobs."

The new funding will be awarded to states and territories, through their energy offices, using a formula set forth in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Each state or territory is required to submit a plan that specifies which ENERGY STAR appliance categories will be included in their rebate program, the rebate level for each product type, how the rebates will be processed, and their plan for recycling old appliances. States and territories must first file an initial application expressing their intent to participate by August 15, 2009, followed by a full application by October 15, 2009. Approximately 10-25% of each award will be spent on administrative costs.

ENERGY STAR qualified appliance categories eligible for rebates include: central air conditioners, heat pumps (air source and geothermal), boilers, furnaces (oil and gas), room air conditioners, clothes washers, dishwashers, freezers, refrigerators, and water heaters.

The Recovery Act appropriated funds for the program to help achieve the national goals of spurring economic growth, creating jobs, saving energy, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. States and territories can use these funds to leverage the utility companies and energy efficiency program sponsors in their area.

If you are building an energy efficient home, work with a green architect who can help you choose energy efficient appliances, building materials, and systems that match your goals - and budget.

For more information on these and other Recovery Act related funding opportunities, visit the U.S. Department of Energy's Recovery and Reinvestment Web site.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New London New Hampshire Office Relocation!

Bonin Architects is excited to announce the opening of our new office located at 209 Main Street, New London, New Hampshire, next to Ellie’s Café. Our new office is a two-story 1,449 square foot craftsman-style building, a signature facility which reflects our culture and the way we work with our clients.

The first floor has a large conference table to accommodate large project meetings with clients and builders, as well as a separate seating area around a gas fireplace for more informal client appointments. In addition to meeting space, the upstairs has plenty of room for our design and project management staff and will also allow us to grow.

Despite the declining economy over the past year, Bonin Architects has continued to stay busy. Asked what has contributed to our growth, Principal Partner and Executive Project Manager Kimberly Bonin explains, “We offer home design and full architectural services, as well as project management to clients who want us to manage the construction of their new home. Our Principal Architect, Jeremy Bonin, is licensed in eight states (ME, NH, VT, NY, MA, RI, CT, and PA) and is a member of the AIA with a diverse background in commercial and residential design. He is also a LEED accredited professional and an expert in the green building industry. Our priority is listening to our clients’ wants and needs, including their goals for energy efficiency, and then working with them to design a home that fits their lifestyle – and their budgets.”

The new office is located in Baynham’s Square, the “gathering place” of New London. Other businesses in Baynham’s Square besides Ellie’s Café and Bonin Architects are Vessels & Jewels and The Banks Gallery. “Many of the locals have already stopped in to welcome us to the neighborhood. We’re definitely looking forward to having our client and project meetings in our new space and are already enjoying having our business in such a friendly community,” Kim adds.

Stop by to say hello the next time you are traveling through New London!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Home Renovating

Consumer Reports magazine recently polled subscribers on their home renovating trends (yes, they do more than just review products), and the results are interesting!

Many folks, instead of adding a bumpout or
home addition, are cutting costs by renovating their kitchen, bathrooms, and outdoor spaces to make better use of the space, open up sight lines, and make the areas more livable. Quality, not quantity, “is the new standard”, according to CR.

According to CR’s poll, two-thirds of homeowners have changed their remodeling plans and given up appliances, specialized features, and extravagances that will not add to the home’s value. Sensible doesn’t mean boring, though – many of CR’s top performing appliances are in stainless, which consumers still crave. Bamboo flooring beats oak, and plastic laminates look like real stone for a fraction of the cost. Instead of adding deluxe whirlpool tubs, homeowners are opting to add luxury by way of handheld body sprays with powerful jets and pulsating massage settings to conventional tubs and shower stalls.

Homeowner trends are leaning toward spending more on products they interact with every day – namely, appliances. (Interestingly: “subscribers who scrimped on cabinets, countertops, and showers wished they had spent more” while at the same time “almost 60% of readers opted for ceramic tile over pricier stone.”)

Almost two-thirds of homeowners plan to do the renovating themselves.
Working with an architect has advantages, though. CR recommends using professionals and adds a warning: “Remember that local building codes will probably require an architect's or engineer's sign-off.”

Top renovations include increasing energy and water efficiency. Eighty-four percent of those polled bought energy –efficient appliances, 43 percent picked out water-efficient appliances, and 38 percent chose fluorescent lighting for their kitchens. Water-saving toilets and low-flow showerheads were installed in 62 percent of bath remodels. Paints with low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are popular, as well.

If you’re planning a home renovating project in the near future, consider the benefits of working with a
green architect to design your home.

Monday, July 13, 2009

NH Events

If you are looking for things to do in New Hampshire this weekend, head over to the Lakeside Living Expo at Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford! The Expo, in its second year, is located near beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee, less than 90 minutes from Boston and the NH seacoast. The Expo will feature over 200 companies featuring 300 exhibits from around the NH Lakes Region, including manufacturers of log and timber frame homes, suppliers of building products, rustic Adirondack home decor, furniture, artists, boating equipment, and indoor and outdoor cottage accessories.

Exhibit booths will be located in several tents surrounding the property. Bonin Architects & Associates will be located in the Lake Winnesquam tent in Booth #144.

2nd Annual Lakeside Living ExpoGunstock Mountain Resort, Gilford, NH
July 17-19, 2009
Friday Noon-8PM * Saturday 10AM – 8PM * Sunday 10AM – 4PM

If you’re planning to build a green home – whether it is timber frame, post and beam, structural insulated panels (SIPs or stress skin panels) or a conventional green home, make Bonin Architects’ booth your first stop! While you’re there, plan to attend a FREE SEMINAR on Green Homes by Jeremy Bonin, AIA NCARB LEED AP.

Free Seminar on Green Homes
Friday & Saturday 4:00 PM – 4:30 PM * Sunday 1:15 PM – 1:45 PM

Looking for discounted admission tickets? Check out our website!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Energy Efficient Mortgage

By now, most people building a new home know enough about green building to know they want their home to be energy efficient for several reasons. Energy efficient homes are better for the ecosystem, eliminate toxins and allergens creating a healthy environment for your family, and reduce costs (energy costs, health care expenses, maintenance and repairs).

High performance insulation such as SIP panels, better windows, and energy efficient appliances and equipment costs can be higher in an energy efficient home, as many of the systems and materials carry a higher price tag than their non-green counterparts. Unlike standard non-green items, though, the energy efficient choice gives you a return on your investment by paying for itself over time. With an Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM), your investment pays off right away.

If you are planning to build a new home and think you can’t afford to add energy efficient products and features because they cost too much, as your local banker about an Energy Efficient Mortgage.

Here are the facts about Energy Efficient Mortgages:

Regular home mortgages do not take energy costs into account, even though energy is a major household expense. In a typical home, energy consumes about 10% of the household budget. Energy Efficient Mortgages recognize energy costs along with recurring payments, such as principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. By investing in energy saving features, homeowners will save money every month. By financing the cost of the energy efficient building materials, the monthly savings is greater than the additional monthly payment, and in most cases, the homeowners enjoy positive cash flow in the first month!

The Energy Efficient Mortgage rewards homeowners with up to a 5% instant equity credit. That means if you are building an energy efficient home and it originally appraises at $300,000, it would be immediately worth $315,000.

The New Construction Energy Efficient Mortgage can be combined with both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages. We can also to construction to permanent financing (or single-close mortgages) so that you don't need to pay two sets of closing costs. A positive aspect of energy efficient homes (other than lower utility bills) is that they have a good impact on the environment. The average home that goes through an Energy Efficient Mortgage will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2-4 TONS per year.

Talk to your local banker today about an Energy Efficient Mortgage to finance your new energy efficient home!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bringing Smart Energy Home

Most of our clients are interested in how much energy their new green home will use. Wireless energy monitors are the answer. Here's an article I read recently in Business Week:

Bringing Smart Energy Home: Wireless energy dashboards to monitor usage are coming to many U.S. homes starting this year, fueled by the stimulus package, by Katie Fehrenbacher

Thanks to funds from the stimulus package and renewed attention to energy savings, 2009 is the year companies are planning to launch wireless energy dashboards that will sit in your home, monitor energy data from your electricity meter, and let you know if you're being an energy hog. While tech firms have been trying to sell you on the "digital home" for years—complete with wireless networks that can do everything from control your entertainment equipment to operate high-tech security systems and roast a chicken—the new energy-management companies are keeping it simple by using low-cost hardware and open standards to monitor energy data.

This year is particularly important to these mostly young companies, as President Barack Obama has pledged to help utilities install 40 million smart meters, which are basically digital meters that create a two-way connection with the power grid and the utility. Smart meters installed in homes can unleash data about the fluctuating price of electricity throughout the day, enabling consumers that have energy-management tools to shift energy consumption to the time of day when power is cheapest. For utilities, that can mean better management of the power grid, eliminating the need to build out expensive power generating systems.

In the U.S., 6% have smart meters
A half-dozen companies are launching their first energy dashboards this year and a few others are starting to gain traction with already available online tools. One of the biggest differences between these firms is whether companies will sell directly to the consumer or to utility partners for upcoming smart meter rollouts. Several of the already available options for consumers bypass smart meters and utilities and just help the interested consumer with a standard electricity meter. They're cheap and available online, but they provide less detailed data.

The utility-focused tools use smart meter information to provide deeper energy analysis and can even control smart appliances, enabling utilities to implement demand-response events. But the drawback of such tools is that you'll need a lot of patience and a little luck. To get hooked up via one, you'll need to be in the footprint of a utility that's rolling out smart meters. At this point fewer than 6% of the U.S. population has a smart meter.