This table compares a code-minimum reference house and the author's previous Energy Star houses with various improvements he considered in order to gain a federal tax credit under the Energy Policy Act of 2005. It assumes air conditioning efficiency of SEER 13.
This table compares a code-minimum reference house and the author's previous Energy Star houses with various improvements he considered in order to gain a federal tax credit under the Energy Policy Act of 2005. It assumes air conditioning efficiency of SEER 13.

After working as a superintendent for a local contractor for five years, I started my own construction company — building custom presold homes and additions — in February 2004. Two years later, I decided to build my first spec house, on a lot I purchased at a municipal tax auction. Fuel prices were increasing and I wanted to explore practical ways to increase the energy efficiency of the homes I built; a spec house, I reasoned, would give me the freedom to try some new energy measures.

There was a further incentive: The Energy Policy Act of 2005 offered a $2,000 federal tax credit for any new home that used 50 percent less energy for heating and cooling than a "typical" new home. Since I had already been building Energy Star homes, I was eager to find strategies that would allow me to qualify.

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