Having an energy-efficient home for long-term cost savings is about harness the energy already around us, but most people only focuses on changing lightbulbs and appliances. If you are serious about energy efficiency, there are 5 things you need include in your design to make a comfortable sustainable home that really reflects in the utility bills.
Mind the orientation
Orienting the openings of your home to the south not only saves energy costs, it’s also better to set the mood and make spaces more comfortable with the natural light. Although the location of the house will determine how much you can do, you must take care of the orientation of windows and doors to exploit solar influence all year round. If your house is poorly oriented, just focused in increasing natural light in interiors.
For well oriented homes, ask your contractor about passive solar design and high thermal mass materials to help temperature steadiness. Making the most of the house’s orientation to take advantage of solar energy -in both summer and winter- is a very important measure to reduce overall energy costs for your home.
Put an energy efficient air barrier
The most effective way to reduce cooling and heating costs is avoid outdoor air infiltration to increase interior temperature stability. To increase energy efficiency, install a continuous air barrier around the entire house, with special attention around transitions between materials, particularly near windows and doors. A good certified contractor is the best insurance to this type of work because caulking, tapping and spray foam to seal are tricky business to get done properly.
Airtight construction does require proper ventilation, or the interior air could become stale, and unpleasant, so make sure your HVAC can handle the ventilation without heat loss.
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Improve insulation and wall thickness
Having thicker walls leave you with more space to insulation, which is the key to keeping the indoor temperature comfortable. Depending on the construction type of your house, you can choose between various options of green insulation to apply to wall cavities. For older houses, you can switch to insulated modern sidings or adding an extra wall outside to increase the R-value.
In new constructions and additions, ask an architect for the best option on walls for your specific area and climate, having insulation and thermal resistance value in mind.
Invest in high quality windows and glass
Having considered air tightness and insulation, the next weak point on efficiency are the windows. If you took care of the sealing of the entire house you need to put high quality window frames and panes to match all that work.
Capturing or filtering the sunlight is function of the window panes, so -depending on your area- you might consider upgrading to double or triple pane and/or low-e coated glass. If your house already passed an energy audit, you can just reglaze your existing windows with a higher quality glass panes to make the most of the available sun. Remember that you will have the same windows in winter and summer, and the type of window you end choosing need to serve to the specific area your home is.
Make solar-ready electrical installation
The real “efficiency” relies on clean energy, so convert to solar is the next obvious step, but you need to get your house prepared. Weather you are building your house from the ground or want to convert your already finished one, there are some steps you need to take before going solar. If you are planning any kind of remodel you can seize the opportunity to advance in the matter and save money and the hassle of a retrofit afterwards.
Even if solar conversion is not something you will face right now, you should consult with a solar contractor to preview structure and placement of panels, wiring and meters for a future job. And they can also help you apply to a solar conversion program, because going solar can be more affordable than you first thought.
With the advance of building techniques every piece of your house can contribute to energy efficiency, so you need to make the needed upgrades to make it consistent all year round without sacrificing comfort or design. A greener home is possible and we can help you achieve it!
Posted April 12, 2016
by Gabriel Posternak.