How to Build an Energy-Efficient Home
One of the best reasons to build a custom home is the ability to maximize energy efficiency in every way. For example, when you buy an existing home, the chances of being oriented in a direction to make the most out of sunlight and shade during the seasons when they matter most is low. By designing the layout of windows, doors, and roof types, and by arranging the floor plan to get the most out of trees and other shading elements - even homes made out of traditional materials can be far more energy-efficient than the vast majority of existing structures.
With a little forethought and planning, anyone could make better use of these things than the average structure does. On top of that, if you incorporate advanced materials and technologies like super insulate and zero energy solar, you will have a home that is vastly more energy-efficient than the average house. Of course, this is just one reason to choose to work with a custom home builder, but it is a big one. The money you can save on your utility bills over the coming decades and the comfort you will enjoy will make your custom energy-efficient home worth keeping in the family for generations.
How to Build an Energy-Efficient Home
There is a lot of advice online about how to build an energy-efficient home. But rather than repeating the same old aphorisms, we want to take a brief look at three of the most overlooked and effective ways to make a greener, more eco-friendly, and energy-efficient home.
Also known as a "building envelope," super insulate has its predecessor in the 12 to 24 inches of cellulose or fiberglass insulation that became the norm in the 1970s. Today, the technique has been refined with the help of advanced insulating foam with which we wrap more than just the wall-interior space with insulation. With the super insulate technology and method, we seal the floor, ceiling, and walls with insulating foam creating a fully enveloping thermos-like effect.
The super insulate means and method can be accomplished with a wider variety of materials than traditional methods. In some extreme cases, builders have found that rock wool works wonderfully with this method, even though it has been considered to be antiquated for some time. Interestingly, rock wool is also now considered the greenest alternative to insulation that we have since it is made from completely natural ingredients.
Energy modeling is the result of a decades-old tradition of looking for alternatives to standard design styles, shapes, and architectural norms to develop structures that are naturally energy efficient. As stated, this begins with the orientation of the home in relation to the rising and setting points of the sun. It also looks at getting the most benefit out of shading features around the home as well as the optimal roof type for the climate or micro-climate where the home is to be located. Once the exterior energy modeling is settled, we move to the interior to design flow dynamics that optimize the benefits of cool and warm air over seasonal and diurnal cycles.
Energy modeling software is often used to simulate the energy efficiency of a specific design. In this way, we can model, test, and revise structural designs until they are as close to perfect as mother nature will allow.
The most energy-efficient types of houses vary greatly depending on the direction, duration, and intensity of sunlight at different times of the year. An A-frame home is often considered to be the most energy-efficient design, but this is not always the case. Using energy modeling, we can determine the most efficient types of homes for your location and let you choose from among them
Zero Energy Solar
While there are a lot of solar power system manufacturers out there with the word "zero" in their name, Zero Energy Solar is more about making the most of the available sunlight through advanced materials and energy modeling. We begin with the proper orientation of the home and optimal layout. Windows, doors, roof type, and house shape are all optimized for the location and immediate surroundings. Then we use super insulate techniques to make the structure as close to temperature impermeable as possible. From there, energy-efficient windows, doors, and the full closure of common gaps such as power outlets and ducting ingress points are fully sealed.
All of this can be thought of as a full design integration of the super insulate ideal, but it incorporates a laundry list of advanced materials and techniques to make the home as close to thermos-like as possible.
The Cost of Building an Energy Efficient Home
The cost to build an energy-efficient home will be greater than building a non-energy-efficient home of the same size and proportions, though this is not always the case. More importantly, by investing in green design, a home of average size can expect to use an average of $2800 less per year on utilities.