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HUD Web Tool Helps Improve Home Energy Efficiency

Recognizing the significant potential for energy savings and comfort improvements, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently launched the Energy Efficient Rehab Advisor (www.rehabadvisor.com), a free Web-based tool designed to help homeowners, contractors, architects, facility managers, and others to improve energy efficiency in existing homes during renovation and remodeling.

In just a few clicks, the Advisor is designed to provide recommendations for cost effectively increasing the energy efficiency of a typical renovation project in single-family or multifamily housing. These recommendations are based on the building type, age, location, and project. The Advisor suggests specific actions to get the most value from a typical remodeling project.

According to HUD, increasing a home's energy efficiency is relatively simple, especially when coupled with a planned renovation. Making a few easy improvements, like sealing air leaks when finishing a basement or upgrading to Energy Star® qualified appliances with a remodeling job, can produce big savings on energy bills, increase comfort, and create a quieter, healthier indoor environment, says the agency.

"Improving housing affordability is a key component of HUD's mission. The Energy Efficient Rehab Advisor represents one way HUD can help identify energy efficiency improvements and pinpoint cost savings for any remodeling project," said Mike Blanford, a research engineer with the Office of Policy Development and Research who managed the development of the Advisor.

HUD developed the Advisor in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The energy efficiency recommendations are based on Energy Star specifications, where applicable. HUD recommends following the Advisor's guidelines when undertaking any type of renovation project in single-family and multifamily housing, whether it is privately-owned or public housing.

Bob Paquin, director of HUD's Boston Office of Community Planning and Development, noted, "The Advisor sets a new standard for ‘user-friendly.' It offers easy access to a complex subject. This tool is comprehensive, efficient, and informative."

The Energy Efficient Rehab Advisor was developed for HUD by D&R International Ltd. and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Sidebar: Benefits Of The Energy Efficient Rehab Advisor

Savings - Increasing energy efficiency decreases monthly utility bills, which pays for the measures through energy savings.

Better indoor air quality, improved comfort, and noise reduction - Helps eliminate hot spots, chilly drafts, and air that's too dry or moist with added insulation, efficient windows, and efficient heating and cooling systems. Better windows and more insulation also reduces noise from outdoors, creating a more peaceful household.

Decreased maintenance - New HVAC systems, advanced controls, and efficient lighting reduce maintenance demands. Tighter, better insulated buildings lighten the load on the HVAC system and reduce the likelihood of water damage and mold growth.

Environmental benefits - Increasing energy efficiency promotes cleaner air and water by reducing pollution from power plants.

Cross-functional benefits:

  • For homeowners: Gives ideas and helps you budget your remodeling project.

  • For builders and contractors: Shows clients the benefits of energy efficiency.

  • For designers: Shows energy efficient measures in which to concentrate.

  • For developers: Stretches your budget by incorporating energy efficiency in your projects.

  • For lenders: Shows that a larger loan can result in smaller overall payments.

  • For property managers: Increases comfort and efficiency without raising rents.

    The Advisor also provides additional information:

  • Background and descriptions of energy efficiency measures;

  • Case studies;

  • Links to sites listing energy efficiency rebates and tax credits; and

  • Installation and operation and maintenance instructions.

    For more information, visit www.rehabadvisor.com.

    Reprinted from FEMP Focus, Summer 2004, a publication of the office of Federal Energy Management Programs, U.S. Department of Energy.

    Publication date: 09/20/2004

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