• IABA

Energy efficient homes and appliances

Provided by the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC)

There is so much online about energy efficient homes and appliances. Sometimes I can’t tell what is reliable information. Can you help?

With new “green” products being offered almost daily and the myriad of tax credit and other incentives, it can be hard to find and choose reliable resources for making decisions when buying or renovating a home or buying home appliances. We’ve got a few tried-and-true resources that, when combined with local know-how, can help.

Let’s start with the big guys. The US Department of Energy has a massive website called “Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy” ( We’ve referred to it in our series of articles, and we find it is a great place to start and get basic answers to a wide range of questions. Click on this site to find a guide to rebates for ENERGY STAR appliances, and a description of what criteria the government uses to give this designation. Also find tips on reducing energy use in your home, choosing a heating system or weatherstripping your doors and windows. Combine that information with a visit closer to home: the Golden Valley Electric Association ( website offers the same kind of tips for the Alaskan climate. Schedule a Home$ense audit while you’re there, for specific information for your home.

The National Association of Home Builders also has a wealth of information on their website ( Directed at homebuilders, there is still plenty of solid advice for consumers on choosing to build a green home, including information about new building materials, water use efficiency and more. Their “Illustration: How Homes Become GREEN” is an excellent overview of new building materials – for use in new homes and renovations.

But don’t forget our local resource. The Interior Alaska Building Association (IABA) has excellent resources, including their annual “Construction Directory,” which includes local contractors, specialty contractors (think plumbers or carpenters), services and suppliers. This is a resource you need before you start a home building or remodeling project:

Finally, we’ll toot our own horn a bit. The CCHRC website has a lot of information for local homeowners. Thinking of adding insulation to your home to make it more energy efficient? Are you trying to figure out a way to collect rainwater for your new vegetable garden? Wondering what kind of foundation to build your hunting cabin on? Check out for information that has been tested and is specifically written for northern climates such as ours.

Do you have a question about energy efficiency, building or renovating a home, or other home building concerns? Send your question to

The Cold Climate Housing Research Center is an industry-based nonprofit based in Fairbanks, Alaska that develops and tests energy efficient building technologies for the north. The articles and videos included in this guide are part of its mission to promote healthy, sustainable, affordable housing in Alaska and beyond. Find more at