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Finding Energy Efficient Builders in Maine

The topic of home heating is a popular one in the Northeast. If you live in a cold northern climate, it's not easy to keep a house warm when the winds blow in winter. Good heating systems can make the difference between sitting comfortably in the living room and shivering under down blankets. And inefficient systems can break a budget in no time. That's why an energy-conscious builder is the best choice for new construction in Maine and other states where the temperatures dip well below freezing.

Being an energy-conscious or "green" builder means you do everything possible to conserve the resources used in construction as well as the energy needed to run the house. Homeowners looking for a custom homebuilder in southern Maine or other areas of the country should look for a green contractor that builds to ENERGY STAR standards. ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection (EPA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) whose purpose is to save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and methods. In 2008 alone ENERGY STAR helped Americans saved $19 billion on utility bills.

Homes built to ENERGY STAR standards meet the EPA's guidelines for energy efficiency. They have insulation appropriate for the climate, high-performance windows, tight construction and duct systems, efficient heating and cooling systems, and energy efficient lighting and appliances. Independent home energy raters conduct onsite inspection and testing to verify that homes qualify as ENERGY STAR.

The EPA also has standards for indoor air quality in green buildings, called Indoor airPLUS. After qualifying as ENERGY STAR, homeowners and builders can incorporate additional features that control moisture, chemical exposure, radon, pests, ventilation, and filtration-all of which help to reduce indoor pollutants and improve air quality inside homes.
Ask questions before you choose a green builder in Maine or anywhere else. Ask prospective contractors if they build energy efficient homes, particularly ENERGY STAR rated homes. If they do build to ENERGY STAR standards ask if they have the homes independently tested. Ask how they achieve healthy indoor air quality and if they use paints and sealants that have low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Find out the kind of experience and training the builder and staff have with green building. Ask for local references; talk to them and tour their homes if possible.

Besides all the other benefits of green homes, there's another big advantage: they have high resale value because homeowners are increasingly concerned about energy use and the environment. Energy efficient homes save money on utility bills, provide a more comfortable living environment, have better indoor air quality, and help protect the environment. And because houses last many years, the environmental benefits last for decades. To date more than 6,500 homebuilders have constructed nearly 940,000 ENERGY STAR qualified homes across the country. When you're ready for new construction in Maine, look for a green builder with a proven record. You'll be glad you did.

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