Building a new home? Consider making it more energy efficient. Energy efficient homes save money by reducing energy use, providing a higher level of comfort, and increasing the resale value of the house. Fortunately, advancements in construction and technology have made the process of building an energy efficient home easier than ever.
Energy efficient homes will have more complete thermal sealing, controlled ventilation, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, energy efficient doors, lights, windows, appliances, and smart devices. Here are some considerations for building an energy efficient home.
Proper site orientation for a home will allow homeowners to take advantage of the sun’s energy. In Ohio, homes should be oriented north-south to minimize direct sunlight during the summer to decrease the need for air conditioning and maximize sunlight during the winter to reduce heating demands.
When it comes to the layout of the house, energy efficient homes should consider the direction rooms will face:
- North-facing rooms have low levels of sunlight. These are best suited for garages, laundry rooms, bathrooms, and other service rooms.
- East-facing rooms wake up to the morning sun and cool down in the late afternoon. Kitchens and bedrooms are best facing this way.
- West-facing rooms are the opposite. The late afternoon sun can be a problem for kitchens and bedrooms.
- South-facing rooms have the best sunlight during the day. This is ideal for main living spaces like living, family, and dining rooms.
Energy efficient homes will have continuous insulation or insulation that is uncompressed and continuous across the entire structure. Continuous insulation prevents thermal bridging or air from leaving or entering the house. By eliminating drafts and keeping the heat or air conditioning inside, homeowners save money and energy by reducing heating and cooling expenses.
By making homes more airtight, continuous insulation also prevents moisture and eliminates condensation. Moisture resistance is important for preventing rot, mold, and mildew, which can compromise the indoor environmental quality of a home and lead to health problems among the inhabitants.
The airtightness of energy efficient homes may trap pollutants like radon, formaldehyde, and other volatile compounds. To control ventilation, an energy recovery ventilation system can help minimize energy loss by transferring energy from the outgoing air to the incoming fresh air. Additionally, energy-efficient homes should include exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom.
Energy efficient homes can capitalize on the windows, skylights, and doors that make up a home’s glazing system to provide light, warmth, ventilation, and savings. In Ohio, major glazing areas should face south to take advantage of the sun’s energy and reduce heating costs in the winter.
Look for energy efficient windows and skylights with protective coatings and improved frames to utilize the sun during the winter and block it out during the summer. These windows can also protect against ultraviolet rays that can discolor carpets and furnishings.
Exterior doors that aren’t properly insulated, installed, or sealed can leak air and waste energy. Pay attention to the door’s energy performance rating, specifically the U-factor. The lower the U-factor, the better the door will keep in heat.
A home’s heating and cooling system can account for about half of the energy use, so energy efficient homes should consider HVAC systems that use less energy. High-efficiency systems provide more comfort, moisture control, improved indoor air quality, and quieter operation. When installed properly, HVAC systems have the potential to offer homeowners big savings on the utility bill.
Installing the right lighting is an important consideration when building an energy efficient home. LED bulbs offer homeowners better energy efficiency and long-term savings when compared to incandescent bulbs. Most LEDs can last an average of 25,00 hours, while incandescent bulbs last a mere 750 hours. Plus, there’s the cost of electricity. It takes $240 to light an incandescent bulb for 25,000 hours as opposed to $40 for an LED. Additionally, controls such as timers and dimmers can further help homeowners save money and energy.
Smart Home Devices and Appliances
Savvy homeowners should consider installing energy efficient appliances when building a new home. Smart refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves, and washers and dryers, for example, can help homeowners save energy and money while streamlining chores. Additionally, smart devices like power strips, thermostats, and blinds can further increase energy efficiency and reduce utility bills.
More Energy Efficiency Tips
When building an energy efficient home, homeowners can save energy and keep utility bills down right from the get-go. Want to save more energy? Check out the NOPEC tip house for more energy efficiency advice.