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Building Green

How to achieve optimum energy efficiency in your current or future home

Jim Kostusik is the president and CEO of Redstone Homes, Inc., a local custom home building company specializing in energy efficient homes. Since 2004, he has been transforming dreams and ideas on blueprints into quality award-winning homes requiring substantially less energy than standard code built homes.

Kostusik has always had a passion for building and the environment, receiving his Certified Green Professional Designation in 2009 through the National Association of Home Builders. Since then, Kostusik has used his knowledge, experience and technology to provide the most energy-efficient homes to meet the wants, needs and budget of his clients.

You don’t have to sacrifice looks for energy efficiency either—incorporating green building into your current or future home has never been easier or more cost-effective. 

“The most important features of an energy efficient home include the outside shell of the home, heating and cooling aspects, efficient lighting, appliances and the use of renewable energy,” says Kostusik.  

The Home Energy Rating System, or HERS, is the industry standard by which energy efficiency of a home is measured. An energy auditor takes every aspect of construction into account and calculates a home’s energy performance by giving it a rating. Existing homes typically land between 110-150, and new code built homes typically receive a rating of 100 on the HERS index.  

“A home with a 0 rating is called a Net Zero home, which is defined as a home that produces as much energy as it consumes,” Kostusik says. “I recently completed my first Net Zero home in 2019, which is a milestone I’m very proud to achieve.”

Utilizing the sun by positioning the rear of the home facing south to southwest and by incorporating larger soffits (the overhang of the roof beyond the house) is crucial for optimum heating and cooling needs.

“The sun can better shine indoors in the winter while offering shade in the summer. Facing the rear of the home in this direction is also ideal for solar panel placement—to better conceal the solar panels and to allow them to produce the maximum amount of energy. Solar energy power is energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy. Lowering the overall energy demand in the home reduces the number of solar panels needed. The sun is a tremendous untapped energy source just waiting to be harvested."

The SIPS panels Kostusik uses, also known as structural insulated panels, are four times more efficient than a standard 2 by 4-foot wall.

“SIPS panels allow less air infiltration into and out of the home and are more soundproof to the many outside noises that surround us today. They also have less environmental impact due to less wood needed to construct the walls versus a standard construction wall, not to mention the time saved on the construction schedule when building with SIPS. I’ve built several homes in the greater Kansas City area that incorporate SIPS panels, including my own home."

Heating and cooling is another major aspect that can lower the HERS rating and add efficiency to the home.

“A geothermal heat pump, also known as a ground source heat pump, is a central heating and cooling system that transfers heat to and from the ground. It uses the earth constantly without any intermittency as a heat source in the winter and a heat sink in the summer. Geothermal heat pumps are the most efficient and operate at the lowest operating cost, giving up to five units of heat for every single unit of energy used.”

Lighting and appliances are another important factor in dramatically reducing energy needs.

“High-efficiency appliances can save an average of 30 percent energy each year. LED bulbs can also greatly impact overall electrical usage—they use far less energy than a standard incandescent bulb, operating at lower temperatures, and have recently become much more affordable.”

In the end, it’s up to clients to decide if they want to reduce their carbon footprint.    

“Technology is constantly changing—I’m always striving to bring the best options to my clients so they can be educated about the decisions in front of them when building a new home. The choice is theirs, and when one makes an educated decision, it’s usually the best one with the most satisfaction.”

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