Ever found yourself wondering, “How energy efficient is my home?” Then the answer is that it’s probably not as energy efficient as it could be. Unless you have all the latest green appliances, windows, lights, and other home accessories, your home likely has room to improve. And since updating energy efficiency in the home is an opportunity to both lower your energy bill and reduce your carbon footprint, the switch is really a no brainer.
That being said, the process of building an energy efficient home poses many questions. You might be wondering, “What is the most energy efficient home construction?” or more simply, “What is energy efficient housing?” Whatever you do or don’t know about energy efficient homes, it’s all OK. It takes time to build a knowledge base, but we can help you get a head start. With decades of Lowcountry building experience under our belts, the Roberts Construction Family has the expertise in energy efficient materials, building processes, and much more. And what’s the point of gaining all this knowledge, if not to share with others?
That’s why we put together this energy efficient home guide. We’ll go over the factors that impact design and how energy efficient your house is. Then we’ll go over the features and benefits of custom energy efficient homes. We can’t promise we’ll leave you with every piece of information you need, but this article should serve as a good starting place for you to build your knowledge.
Energy Efficient Starts With Your Environment
The climate, environmental conditions of your Lowcountry land plot, and your personal lifestyle preferences have a huge bearing on what is required to design and build your energy efficient home.
For example, the Lowcountry has a subtropical climate, which means you must carefully consider window placement to avoid too much glare from direct sunlight. By letting your builder know from the beginning that having an energy efficient home is important to you, each design aspect will be evaluated to improve comfort and durability while simultaneously reducing utility usage.
Based on evaluations of the site of your new home, you and your builder can make a well informed decision about the location of the structure and the shape of the design. For instance, your preferred orientation for the home may be from the north to the south as a way to maximize the solar gains during the colder months while reducing solar gains in the warmer months
The room layout should also be a consideration. Rooms facing the south will get the most sunlight during the daytime hours and are ideal for living rooms and dens. Rooms to the north have less sunlight and are often reserved for garages and laundry rooms. The kitchen and bedroom are best placed in the east as a way to get sun during the day, but start to cool down in the late afternoon. Floor plans created for a new home will also need to have strategies for maximizing ventilation through proper window and door placement.
Features of Energy Efficient Homes
In the ever-expanding world of technology and research, building codes, materials, and processes change more frequently than ever. As such, today’s home builder must keep up to date not only to stay on-trend but to adhere to local and federal standards. The measures builders take often include the following:
- Advanced Framing and Roofing – A more conscientious approach to construction known as advanced house framing (or optimum value engineering), this method reduces lumber use and waste by replacing certain wood frames with insulation and using only single-lumber headers. In a wood-framed house it cuts cost and excess. In addition, some builders choose cool roofs, which are constructed of reflective material that absorbs less sunlight, making the interior easier to cool in warm seasons.
- Energy Star Rated Appliances – Machines and appliances can be a huge factor in draining and wasting energy, particularly things like your fridge, dishwasher, and other appliances used daily around the house. Energy star rated appliances have a long life span which saves you money in the long run instead of repurchasing new ones often. Furthermore, higher productive machines give a certain amount of protection against rising energy costs increasing the home value if you decide to sell.
- Efficient Heat and Cooling – Since extreme temperatures lead to heavy energy use, contemporary HVAC systems focus on climate controlling only those areas in need.
- Insulation – To aid the conservationist approach, builders are constantly looking to improve insulation methods and material while ensuring a tight seal at every crevice. This practice might include insulating unfinished attics, exterior walls (between spaces like the garage, storage rooms, or shed roofs), unvented crawl spaces, and slab floors.
- Multi-Pane Windows and Other Accessories – Along the same lines as insulation, it makes sense to focus on high quality windows, as they can act as significant barriers to energy efficiency. On the upside, most modern homes come with double pane windows capable of cutting utility costs drastically.
- Install Efficient Lighting – Many homeowners turn to LED lights when looking for cost saving options, but not all homeowners like LED lights. However, the choices now available in the LED arena have exploded in recent years. You can purchase bulbs at different brightness and color hues, and ones that are dimmable. Many of these bulbs come with a long life. You pay for them once and you don’t have to think about them for at least a decade. And the monthly savings on your electric bill is substantial. The U.S. government claims that widespread adoption of LED lighting has the greatest potential for energy savings nationwide.
- Invest in Solar Energy – If you want to go the extra mile on energy efficiency, consider installing solar panels on your property to source your own clean and renewable electricity. The initial investment is steep, but you’ll recoup the costs by stabilizing your electric bill over the next few decades in your new custom home.
- Wireless Programmable Thermostats – Wi-Fi enabled thermostats allow you to program and remotely adjust your home’s temperature for maximum energy efficiency. They also provide information on your energy usage, so you can make better decisions about when to adjust the temperature.
- Water Conserving Fixtures Throughout the Home – Reducing water usage lowers your water bill and energy bill for using hot water. Your builder can help you select water conserving devices such as:
- High-Efficiency Toilets
- Performance Showerheads
- Recirculating Hot Water System
- Water-Saving Faucets
On top of the energy efficient methods already in play, you as a homeowner can go above and beyond to safeguard against excess energy consumption. For example, the landscape choices you implement can have a cooling effect on your property:
- Deciduous trees planted along the southern boundary can block the sun’s warming rays
- Tall shrubs and greenery concentrated in the north and northwest can reduce wind gusts
- Any bushes, shrubs, or vines planted near the exterior can act as additional barriers against outdoor elements, providing shade and insulation.
Benefits of Energy-Efficient Homes
1. They Are Better for the Environment
This one might seem obvious, but it’s really important. Many of us are striving to do our part in preserving the health and quality of the planet. Focusing on energy conservation when building your home is really a good way to step up, especially in the Lowcountry where cooling your home throughout the year requires a significant amount of power.
2. They Are a Good Investment
While an energy efficient home offers eco-friendly benefits and utility savings, many people forget that energy features go a long way towards increasing a home’s property value. This is especially true in hot climates, where energy efficiency is a top priority for home shoppers. Implementing the tips included in this article can make your home more attractive on the market and even earn you a nice return.
3. It Will Lower Your Energy Costs
Energy efficient homes can decrease your energy costs in a number of ways. First, a well-insulated home is able to keep cool air inside which can alleviate the burden on your AC system. Sealed doors, double pane windows, and a new roof are just a few of the features of a brand new energy efficient home that can improve insulation. Brand new Energy Star certified appliances will also lessen your power consumption and utility bills.
4. You Will Be More Comfortable
When building a new custom home, comfort is a top priority. Energy efficiency can actually improve your comfort because your home will be more capable of maintaining consistent air temperature and quality. Good insulation and a new roof will help to minimize fluctuations in air temperature, prevent drafts, and minimize internal humidity. High-quality, consistent air will ultimately keep your home comfortable throughout the year.
5. They Can Benefit Your Health
Believe it or not, energy efficient homes can actually have positive effects on your health. Sealed windows and good insulation means that the inside of your home will be less susceptible to allergen and asthma triggers. An energy efficient home is well insulated which means it is capable of maintaining good air quality and humidity levels. Humidity regulation also prevents dangerous plant growth, such as mold or mildew, from forming in your bathrooms and kitchen. Healthy air quality and comfortable temperatures can also have a positive impact on mental health.
Roberts Construction takes pride in offering the highest quality energy efficient custom homes to their customers. With a reputation for quality craftsmanship, we craft technologically advanced houses for families in the best neighborhoods who wish to reduce their carbon footprint and their monthly energy costs.