While exposed beams and window walls can add to a home’s overall unique character, these design features may be costing homeowners on their utility bills. NBC News’ Dana McMahan spoke with Lauren Urbanek, a senior program advocate at the Center for Energy Efficiency Standards’ Climate & Clean Energy Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Here are a few design elements Urbanek said waste energy the most:

Exposed Beams
“Living in a building where there's a half inch thick piece of wood between you and outside…of course comes at a cost…to your utility bill and to your comfort as well” Urbanek said. That wood was never meant to see light of day. “Heat always wants to travel to where it's cooler so if it's cooler inside your building … if you have no insulation between your rafters and the roof, the heat or cold is just going to pass right through,” she explained.

Exposed Brick
“Exposed brick is really wonderful, but brick is also not a great insulator in and of itself,” Urbanek said. “You can put your hand up to an exterior wall in the middle of winter and feel cold if it's just a layer of brick.” Consider this: building codes today call for insulation levels of R-19 (the the R-value refers to a material's thermal resistance) or higher on exterior walls, according to North American Insulation Manufacturers Association. Even in a house like this that's three bricks thick we're lucky if we're at R-3. No wonder inside that brick room doesn't feel much different from outside!

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