If you have these materials installed at your home, you can usually recover the costs within several years. Yes, they do cost a little up front, usually a 20-30% increase over the cost of standard materials.
But if they can help you save over the long haul, isn’t that worth a little more right now? Check out some of the energy-efficient building materials many homeowners choose to use today:
Wooden beams for new homes are a thing of the past…
The Steel Recycling Institute says custom steel beams use the material found in 6 scrapped cars, whereas wooden beams require 40-50 trees to build. The energy is really saved when the steel is recycled…it costs 75% less energy to recycle steel versus producing it from scratch. It also saves landfill space. And, steel is holds up better than wood in high winds and earthquakes.
1. Plant-Based Polyurethane Foam
Bamboo, hemp, and kelp are used to create this foam, which can be used in both insulation and furniture. The R-value, a measure of how well it insulates, is higher than fiberglass or polystyrene.
2. Cool, Light-Colored Roofing
You know how white T-shirts reflect more sunlight and don’t get nearly as hot as black ones? The same idea applies to your home’s roofing. Some companies are offering roofing materials lighter in color, although some innovations are making darker materials that reflect heat back well.
3. Structured Insulated Panels
SIPs have a layer of foam insulation place between pieces of plywood. Some people don’t like them because of their looks, but it is possible to install siding, brick, or stone onto the panels. They’re quite astonishing in their energy-saving ability – which can be up to 50% over homes built with traditional materials.
4. Composite Lumber
This lumber, used in place of its treated counterpart, is a 50-50 mix of wood and waste plastics. It’s also more durable and less toxic than treated lumber. It’s more expensive, but because it uses recycled plastic bags and other plastics, it saves a ton of energy.
5. Low Emissivity Windows
Although they cost 10-15% more than clear glass windows, they reduce heat flow through their glass by 50%, reducing your heating costs by 10-20%.
6. The Vacuum Insulation Panel
This provides up to seven times the insulation protection over other available products. They’re not ready for residential use yet because they’re very difficult to install, but the National Association of Home Builders is working with Dow Chemical to make these panels available for insulating attics.
So there you have it – seven energy-efficient building materials. One is going to be available in the future, but most can help right now.
Which of these did you find most interesting?