CenterPoint Home Energy Program
Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Is It Really Cheaper to Live In A Green House?

Yes, and in more ways that one.

Energy conservation is one of the main goals of sustainable building, and following the basics of green design certainly lowers the cost of heating and cooling. All of it makes a difference, so site the house to take advantage of the sun, create a tight building envelope, invest in adequate insulation and choose energy efficient heating and cooling equipment.
The energy advantages of green design are becoming more obvious as the cost of fossil fuels increases. When energy was cheap, a little extra heating oil or natural gas wasn’t a big deal. But energy isn’t cheap anymore and fossil fuels are only going to get more expensive. Cutting consumption by building more-efficient houses is money in the bank.

Taken to its limits, energy conservation strategies result in a “zero-energy” house, which produces as much energy over the course of a year as it uses. This isn’t easy to accomplish and requires the installation of photo-voltaic panels to generate power. But near-zero-energy houses can get most of the way there without as much reliance on these expensive devices. At the moment, zero-energy buildings are rare but they are likely to become much more common.

Green houses also are designed to save money with lower maintenance costs. Choosing durable building products means they will have to be repaired or replaced less frequently. Durable building products don’t necessarily cost more. They just work better.

Read more: 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Steps to Lowering Your Energy Costs

by Code Green Houston.Org

Appliances and Lighting Improvements!

The typical homeowner spends on average $2200 annually on energy costs alone, some due to old or outdated appliances consuming an unnecessarily high percentage.  Energy Star, which is a joint program with the U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, was established to help citizens save money on energy cost and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.[1]

Opt for purchasing some of these  Energy Star rated household appliances next time you are in the market:

Refrigerator and Freezer:  these items are NEVER turned off and are constantly running in you home.  By switching to an energy-efficient model you will see a very fast return on your investment.

Dishwasher:  Purchase a unit with a booster heater.  This raises the temperature to the incoming water to 140°F, this allows for you to change the setting on your home water heater down to 120 °F, which can save you on average 10% on your dishwashing energy costs.

LCD TV instead of a plasma television.  Liquid Crystal Display’s (LCD’s) use 2-4 times less energy than your plasma television set.

Washer and Dryer:  The typical American household washes approximately 400 loads of laundry per year and uses about 40 gallons of water per full load.  Experts suggest that if your unit is more than 10 years old, replacing it can save you over $135 annually.2  Dryers  are not Energy Star rated so be sure to get one with a moisture sensor so it will turn itself off when the clothes are finished drying.

In addition to efficient appliances there are some everyday actions that you can take that will help the environment and reduce your monthly utility bills.

Changing to Energy Star CFL light bulbs, and ultimately to LED bulbs when their availability and pricing improves.

Microwaves not only use less power than ovens, but ovens heat up the kitchen and trigger more air conditioning usage and higher energy bills.

Turn off the computer and other appliances when not in use.  (When possible use power strips instead of plugging your computer into the wall outlet, that way when you turn off the power strip, it is OFF).

Make use of natural lighting as much as possible.

Use LED or fluorescent lighting in exchange for incandescent (remember not to forget about energy efficient Holiday decorations, night lights and outdoor motion sensor lighting).

Turn off lights when leaving the room. This includes ceiling fans for they are not used to cool the room, but rather the occupants. Clean dryer lint filter after every load.

HVAC and Water-Heating Improvements!

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, heating and cooling your home amounts to 45% of your utility bill.   Heating and cooling systems in the United States emit 150 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.  Maintaining and upgrading your household HVAC equipment is ideal when it comes to performance and saving money on energy costs.

Water-Heating accounts for approximately 12% of the average homeowners’ annual energy costs.   Selection is key when it comes to reducing your monthly water heating bills. 

The quickest payback of all is an A/C “tune up” inspection for anyone that hasn’t had one lately.  Scheduling these inspections annually is a worthwhile investment.



Thursday, July 26, 2018

LP Building Products


Did You Know? LP® SmartSide® Siding Is a Beautiful Choice for Our Planet

by Amy Lindholm, December 7, 2017


Responsibly Made With Wood

LP® SmartSide® products are made with wood, a renewable resource, grown and gathered under strict Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) standards. These standards include responsible forestry practices that protect water quality, biodiversity and wildlife habitat. All wood used by companies participating in the SFI program must come from legal and responsible sources, whether the forests are SFI-certified or not. These standards ensure forest products remain a sustainable resource now and for generations to come.

In addition to using SFI-certified wood, LP incorporates the following sustainable practices into its manufacturing process when producing LP SmartSide products.

All binding agents and resins are low-emitting. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals found in many products we use to build and maintain our homes, including siding. The binding agents and resins in LP SmartSide products release low levels of VOCs, which may decrease some people’s risk of health problems.

No added formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a common chemical used to make building materials. It irritates the airways and is known to cause cancer. No urea-formaldehyde is added during the manufacture of LP SmartSide products.

Ninety-nine percent of the log is used. Minimal waste is produced during the LP SmartSide manufacturing process. LP mills use 99% of every log for either the product or the fuel to make it.

Qualifies for green building programs. LP SmartSide products may help builders and remodelers achieve certification points in a number of leading green building programs.


Commit to the Environment with LP

LP maintains a company-wide program to measure environmental performance, identify areas of risk and resolve problems before they can occur. Our commitment to the environment is something that we put in practice every day of the year, year after year. You can be confident that you’re making a good choice for the planet when you choose LP SmartSide products. Experiment with various combinations of exterior siding colors for your next project, then purchase LP products at a dealer near you.


Thursday, September 08, 2016

Green homes sold for $33,894 more on average than homes without green features in 2015

By Kim Slowey and Natalie Schwab | September 8, 2016

According to Redfin, homeowners are going green in response to environmental conditions — like the California drought — or are taking advantage of eco-friendly elements in the course of other upgrades. Homeowners also see green features as a contributor to future resale value and energy-bill savings. Those renovating or building a home are also aiming for a healthier living environment by using more nontoxic building materials and finishes. The analysis also revealed that homeowners can earn green by going green. Homes with green features sold for $33,894 more than the median sale price of all homes in the cities Redfin analyzed. With record-breaking droughts and high temperatures across the country, more house hunters are looking for these amenities.

Homebuyers in all demographics are increasingly demanding homes with green features, and Hanley Wood recently reported that baby boomers are no exception. The company found that 55-plus homebuyers valued sustainability, energy efficiency, wireless security, adaptive lighting and smartphone-controlled home features.

Taking green living literally has emerged with the rising popularity of "agrihoods," which are residential communities built around farms. Instead of demolishing farms to make way for development, homes are added so that residents can experience growing their own food, raising animals and living as part of a community. Green features often come standard with these homes, which tend to be more expensive because of the low-density nature of the developments. Texas billionaire and former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot Jr. built one of the nation's first residential farming developments near Dallas, and other major homebuilders like D.R. Horton and PulteGroup’s Del Webb division are experimenting with the concept and have reported success so far.

While most people appreciate the value of green features, particularly ENERGY STAR appliances and windows, a National Association of Home Builders survey found that homeowners are cost-minded when it comes to upgrading their homes to these standards, and at least half demand a 20% return on their energy efficiency investments.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

NGBS Recognized by Freddie Mac in New Green Advantage Financing

August 12, 2016 | Upper Marlboro, MD

Earlier this week, Freddie Mac launched the Freddie Mac Multifamily Green Advantage(SM), a flexible, cost-effective suite of offerings to finance resource-efficient multifamily rental housing that is available with most of its multifamily loan products. With this new offering, borrowers can get better pricing and increase their Freddie Mac loan amounts to finance energy and water efficiency improvements on multifamily properties. Freddie Mac will reimburse borrowers all or part of the cost of the energy audit used to identify cost-saving features and improvements for their approved loan.

Multifamily buildings with at least one affordable rental unit that either have or are seeking NGBS Green certification will qualify for the better pricing on existing green buildings under Green Advantage. Borrowers have two financing options:

Green Up(SM) enables borrowers with qualifying properties to increase the amount of their eligible Freddie Mac Multifamily loan by up to 50 percent of projected energy and water savings.

Green Up Plus(SM) enables borrowers to increase the loan amount by up to 75 percent of the projected savings.

Under Green Up, savings are calculated through a Green Assessment(SM), a short, straightforward evaluation of green opportunities, estimated costs, and projected savings. For Green Up Plus, borrowers must provide a Green Assessment Plus(SM), which is a more detailed analysis, based on an ASHRAE Level 2 assessment, that can potentially lead to greater savings opportunities. It is projected to give a minimum savings of at least 15 percent (water or energy usage) and give borrowers up to two years to complete the improvements.

The Freddie Mac Multifamily Green Advantage significantly expands on the Green Rebate Freddie Mac began offering last year to borrowers who voluntarily provided an ENERGY STAR score with their loan documents. For more information on Green Advantage go to the Freddie Mac's website

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Green Building materials market was valued at around USD 127.5 billion in 2014 and is expected to reach USD 255 billion in 2020

Zion Research has published a new report titled “Green Building Materials Market for Framing, Insulation, Roofing, Exterior Siding, Interior Finishing and Other Applications for Public facilities, Education, Commercial and Industrial, Healthcare, R&D Centers, Residential and Other End-users – Global Industry Perspective, Comprehensive Analysis, and Forecast, 2014 – 2020”. According to the report, global green building materials market was valued at around USD 127.5 billion in 2014 and is expected to reach USD 255 billion in 2020, growing at a CAGR of around 12% between 2015 and 2020. In terms of volume, the global green building materials market stood at 5,500.0 kilo tons in 2014.

Get sample report visit at

Green building refers to a structure that is environmentally responsible and efficient with respect to resources throughout the lifecycle of a building. The material utilized for this type of construction is known as green building material. Green building materials are responsible for efficiency and sustainability of a building structure in terms of design, construction, maintenance, renovation and demolition. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Green Building Evaluation Labeling (GBEL) and Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) are some of the leading rating systems for buildings and large scale developments in U.S., China and UK respectively.

The green building sector is one of the fastest growing industries worldwide. Green building systems like LEED, the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard, BREEAM, etc. will likely to drive demand for green building projects. In order to achieve green building certification, a green building project needs to fulfill a number of necessities, including energy and resource-efficiency and the use of sustainable building materials. Moreover, growing retrofitting and renovation activities in the construction industry is driving demand for green building materials.

Framing, insulation, roofing, exterior, siding, interior finishing and others are key application segment of green building materials market. Insulation segment accounted for over 23% share of the total green building materials volume consumed in the year 2014. This trend is expected to continue for the duration of the forecast period. Interior finishing is expected to be the fastest growing segment as a large amount of green building materials such as wood, recycled carpet tiles and volatile compound-free paints are replacing conventional materials used in interior finishing operations. However, interior finishing application segment is expected to exhibit fastest growth rate during the years to come. Increasing demand for VOC free glue and paints and solar tiles manufactured from recycled material is expected to drive interior finishing application segment of the green building materials market.

Key end-user segments of green building materials market include public facilities, education, commercial and industrial, healthcare, R & D centers, residential, and other end users. The global green building materials market is dominated by public facilities, education, commercial and industrial segments. Public facilities accounted for over 20% share of the total green building materials market in 2014.

North America and Europe are witnessing robust growth of green buildings market owing to stringent environmental concern, growing awareness about environmental sustainability and national, state & municipal mandates and policies has been in the region. This in turn resulted into huge demand for green building materials in these regions. North America was the largest regional market for green building materials market in 2014. North America accounted for over 40% share in total green building materials volume consumed in 2014.

Browse the full report at
Wednesday, July 20, 2016

How can we conserve energy without spending any money

To start with, here are some quick and easy energy conservation methods that won’t cost you anything; in fact they’ll probably save you money.

In the Kitchen:

If you’re boiling water, use a kettle or put a lid on the saucepan; the water will come to a boil sooner and use less energy.

If you’re boiling an egg, turn the heat off early and let the egg finish cooking in the residual heat.

If you’re cooking something from frozen, plan in advance and take it out of the freezer in plenty of time to thaw properly. Otherwise you’ll waste energy by defrosting it in the oven or microwave.

During colder months, when you’re done cooking something in the oven, leave the oven door open afterwards for a while, so the heat can warm up your kitchen. However, don’t do this if there are small children or curious pets about that could get burnt.

Don’t place your fridge or freezer near a heat source (such as your oven) or in direct sunlight.

Don’t let your fridge use too much energy by keeping it colder than it needs to be- below 40 degrees is best.

For the same reason, keep your freezer set at 0 degrees. 

An outdoor clothes line is the most energy-saving way to dry clothes – and a great example of how to conserve energy resources. If it’s raining, using an indoor clothes line is better than a tumble dryer.

Throughout the rest of your home:

One of the best ways of conserving energy is to turn down the thermostat on your heating. Even turning it down by just one degree can save you money. If you feel a bit chilly, just put on an extra sweater …

Get a free smart meter – ask your energy supplier whether they can install one in your home. Smart meters come with a handy In-Home Display that shows you all kinds of data about your energy use. You can then use that information to see where you’re using more energy than you need, and how you can cut back.

Showering is one of the leading ways we use water in the home, accounting for nearly 17 percent of residential indoor water use—for the average family, that adds up to nearly 40 gallons per day. Low-Flow or Water-Saving Showerheads using the latest technologies can help save water without compromising performance. You can also conserve water usage by turning off the water while shampooing your hair or shaving your legs.

During the colder months, keep curtains and blinds open during the day to let the warmth of the sunshine into your home. Close them at night to keep the heat in and the cold out. The reverse holds true for warmer months, keep the drapes closed during the day to help keep the room cooler, longer.

If you’ve got an attached garage, keep the doors closed in winter, to create an extra layer of insulation for your home.

Repainting? Use satin or semi-gloss paint on your walls. It reflects light better so you can use lower wattage bulbs.

How does housework help to conserve energy?

Dirt and dust can clog appliances and devices so they don’t work as well as they should. A clean home is an energy-efficient one – so find out here how to conserve energy with housework.

Dust your light bulbs. The dust reduces their intensity, which could encourage you to buy higher-wattage bulbs than you actually need, or, if you’ve got dimmer switches, to keep the lights brighter than necessary.

Three or four times a year, pull your fridge away from the wall and give the coils a good vacuuming. Once again, leaving an accumulation of dust and grime means the fridge motor has to work harder.

Clean filters! In dishwashers, washing machines and heat recovery ventilators. They’ll all perform better, and your washing machine and dishwasher are less likely to clog up and then break down.

If you have a tumble dryer, clean the lint screen after each load. As with filters, a clogged line screen means your dryer will be less efficient and take longer to dry your washing.

For the same reason, check the vent hose regularly and remove any fluff or obstructions.

Here are some Energy Saving Tips for everyday use:

Switch to new, energy-efficient light bulbs: Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) or Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Use a low-energy inkjet printer rather than an energy-guzzling laser printer.

Still using a full-size computer? Swap it for a laptop or notebook.

If you’ve got a microwave or a slow cooker (or both), use them rather than a conventional oven whenever possible. A microwave uses about half as much energy as a normal oven, and a slow cooker can be up to 75% more efficient.

If you’re storing leftover food or making a packed lunch, put it in reusable containers rather than using foil or baggies.

It’s better to keep your fridge full, as it will use less energy when it’s well stocked. However, that doesn’t mean you should buy more food than you need and waste it – it’s better to buy only what you’re likely to use, and fill up the space by stacking the fridge shelves with bowls of water.

Only start your dishwasher when it’s full. A half load uses just as much electricity and hot water as a full load, so waiting until it’s full means you’ll do fewer washes. However, don’t overload it or stack everything close together or on top of each other, as it won’t be able to wash them properly.

The same methods of energy conservation apply to washing machines, unless they have an economy function that only works with half loads.

If you have a washer/dryer, or a tumble dryer, put a dry towel in with each load of clothes if there’s room. It will absorb the dampness and dry the clothes faster.

Turn off the lights as you leave a room, unless you’re coming straight back.

If you’ve got ventilation fans in your kitchen or bathroom, don’t leave them on for too long. Once they’ve cleared any condensation, switch them off. Or consider replacing them with heat recovery ventilation units, which continually pre-heat incoming air by warming it with the outgoing air.

If you’re not going to be using your computer for a while, switch it off rather than leaving it in screensaver mode.

Take chargers out of the wall socket. Never leave them switched on, whether they’re for your phone, your kindle, your laptop or your digital camera. They use power even when the device isn’t charging.

Monday, July 11, 2016

9 Tips for an Allergen-Free House

 A Central Vacuum removes 100 percent of captured dirt and allergens from the living space without stirring up dust during cleaning. It’s why Central Vacuum systems have been clinically proven to relieve allergies and why both LEED and the National Green Building Standard award certification points for homes that include these systems. In addition to installing a central vacuum, here are some other recommendations from the UC Davis study on house dust-associated allergies on how to mitigate the effects of airborne particulates and house dust mites:

 Air conditioners/central heating units can be fitted with filters to remove HDM allergens. HEPA filters are replaceable and may not require a retrofit but increase air flow resistance as the filter becomes “loaded.” Electrostatic filters are helpful in removing allergens but are expensive and generate ozone. Window-mounted air conditioning units should be fitted with a HEPA filter. The unit must fit snugly and the room closed off from the rest of the house for it to work effectively.

Room air cleaners or purifiers recirculate air in a room through a collector (HEPA, electret, electrostatic filters, ionizers). They can control airborne particulate matter and some gaseous material in a confined space.

Because the human body provides warmth, humidity and food for house dust mites, bedding should be washed in hot water. Pillows, comforters and mattresses should be put in “mite-proof” coverings.

Bedrooms should feature clear, smooth nonporous surfaces to the fullest possible extent. These surfaces should be mopped every two to three days with a clean damp cloth.

Dust-attracting devices, such as radios, TVs, audio systems, speakers, computers etc., should be kept as free as possible of dust, stored in an enclosed space and covered when not in use.

House plants catch dust, as well as generate mold, mildew and plant spores or pollen, and should not be in bedrooms if the occupant has allergies.

Venetian or similar slated blinds should be dusted often.

Use hypoallergenic décor and minimize the use of harsh chemicals for cleaning.

Many HOMEOWNERS shy away from installing central vacuum systems in their existing homes, because they fear that the installation process must be part of a full-scale renovation. However, almost one-third of all central vacuums sold in the United States are installed in existing homes without tearing out sections of walls or ceilings. In fact, the entire installation process usually takes less than a day.

According to a NAHB Research Center survey, 34 percent of home buyers want a central vacuum in their next home. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

OSHA Faces Opposition to Silica Rule

Industry stakeholders say the rule is unnecessary, costly and difficult to implement. 

OSHA’S FINAL RULE limiting workers’ exposure to respirable crystalline silica—scheduled to take effect June 23—is facing opposition in the construction industry. By reducing exposure, the rule aims to decrease workers’ susceptibility to lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease, according to OSHA. The rule consists of a standard for Construction and another for the General Industry and Maritime.

In response, many construction and manufacturing organizations have filed lawsuits, stating the rule is unnecessary and will be expensive and difficult to implement. For example, the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association and the Georgia Construction Aggregates Association filed a joint petition in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals against the rule. The organizations say the current standard is successful in limiting workers’ crystalline silica exposure. OSHA states nearly 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica at work, including 2 million construction workers who drill, cut, crush or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone, as well as 300,000 workers in general industry operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries and hydraulic fracturing. 
Monday, June 06, 2016

Construction loses 15K jobs as labor shortage begins to 'undermine' industry's growth

By Emily Peiffer 

Dive Brief:

The construction industry lost 15,000 jobs in May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Associated General Contractors of America reported Friday. April's figures were also revised down from a 1,000-job gain to a 5,000-job loss.

Construction employment was at 6,645,000 in May. Despite the fact that the industry lost so many jobs last month, year-over-year employment totals were 3.4% higher than May 2015. Average hourly earnings in construction rose 2.6% in May to $28.04 — nearly 10% higher than the average across the private sector.

Within the industry, the nonresidential construction sector lost 10,300 jobs, while the residential sector shed 4,400 jobs.

Dive Insight:

Although the labor shortage has been an ongoing concern for construction companies, the AGC noted that May's steep drop in employment signals that tight labor conditions could finally be "reaching the point where they undermine the sector’s growth."

AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson noted in a release that the facts that overall employment in construction is strong and that average pay is significantly higher than the overall private sector signal that contractors "have plenty of work but are struggling to find qualified workers to hire."

Construction employment has seen a sudden slowdown in the last two months, as job numbers skyrocketed in the first three months of the year. However, along with those strong employment gains, experts warned that employers were draining the pool of existing talent and running out of people to hire. Those predictions were unfortunately realized in May.

The industry labor shortage has led some experts to suggest supporting new marketing efforts, a greater focus on technical training in school, immigration reform and a broad coalition effort as possible solutions. "We need public officials to provide the funding and flexibility needed to allow for more career and technical education in this country," AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr said in a release.