As one of today’s biggest building trends, energy efficient custom homes are a great way to get the beautiful forever home you’re looking for and ensure that it’s affordable for many years to come. Energy efficiency means that your home does its best to reduce its energy consumption, while still providing you with a home that maintains a consistent temperature and provides all of the luxury comforts you’re looking for. Energy efficient homes can protect you from harsh climate changes, save you money on your heating and cooling energy bill, and reduce your home’s overall energy intake. But what, exactly, makes a custom home energy efficient, and how can you build one?
At Whitmore Homes, we pride ourselves in our ability to provide a beautiful custom home that is also energy efficient. Let’s look at the elements that we have found are critical to designing an energy efficient home.
One of the very first considerations that go into building a truly energy efficient custom home is location. Selecting the building site and positioning the home appropriately on the building envelope is essential. You want your home to be in an area that is naturally protected from elements like wind, rain, and snow.
Landscaping and Grading
Surprisingly, the way you landscape your home can really affect its energy efficiency. You’ll want to ensure that your new custom home is properly graded to allow water to flow away from your foundation. Proper landscaping can also aid in this effort. It’s also a good idea to install proper trees which provide shade and break the wind and lower the energy needed to heat and cool your home.
Air Sealing Strategy
In your energy efficient custom home, you’ll want to ensure that all of the exterior walls, windows, and doors are properly air sealed. When you’re building a new home, this involves minimizing the air movement and air leakage through proper techniques and materials like vapor barriers, caulk, insulation, and house wrap. This critical step will minimize any outside air from entering and inside air from escaping your new home.
When you’re trying to build an energy efficient home, insulation is not a place to scrimp. The better the insulation that you use, the more energy efficient your home is going to be. Insulation works to provide a protective barrier between the exterior and interior of your home. We typically insulate above the ceiling, exterior walls and lower level walls. We also pay close attention to areas like 3 season rooms where it’s extra important to have extra insulation.
Thanks to today’s technology, even your roof can be energy efficient. These days, “cool roofs” work to reflect the sun’s rays and absorb less heat from the exterior. These roofs are made from extremely reflective materials, and function to keep your home from heating up in the warmer months. When installed with a proper amount of insulation, these new high-tech roofs can also defend against other common roof problems, like dangerous ice dams.
Energy Efficient Windows
Most exterior walls have a standard R value which is much greater than most energy efficient windows. So it’s pretty clear that windows can be a high loss area for energy. We know that highly efficient windows are expensive, but you get what you pay for with windows. By purchasing windows that are more energy efficient and offer the best insulation possible, you’ll be protecting your home’s efficiency as best you can and furthering your efforts to create that impermeable barrier.
It’s also good to note that where you put your windows can affect the energy efficiency of your home. A standard rule of thumb is to put more windows on the south and east sides of the home as you’ll still get a lot of sunlight, but heat won’t become oppressive throughout the day, especially in the warmer months of the year.
One of the best ways to save money and capitalize on energy efficiency is to buy a high-efficiency heating and cooling unit. When building your new home, you will work with your HVAC contractor to design the size and layout of ductwork to optimize performance and efficiency. Proper duct layout will go a long way towards increasing your energy efficiency. Using insulated ducts to protect your conditioned air will ensure that it remains the same temperature as it leaves the unit and is delivered throughout your home.
Today’s HVAC units are incredibly efficient and can provide consistent temperature, higher-quality indoor air, and quieter operation. The best part is that highly efficient heating and cooling units often end up paying for themselves in the amount of money you save on your energy bills.
Energy Efficient Lighting and Appliances
The last part of building an energy efficient custom home comes in the final building phase. You can save a lot of money on energy bills, and do your part to lower your carbon footprint, by choosing LED lighting options and efficient Energy Star rated appliances. These options do tend to cost more upfront, but you end up saving money in the long run:
Energy efficient lights use considerably less wattage to provide a greater amount of light, and don’t have to be changed as often. Many LED bulbs will last for years, even after regular use, which means that even if you pay a bit more up front, you’re still paying for just one bulb. A similar watt fluorescent bulb would have to be changed multiple times in the lifetime of just one LED bulb.
New, energy efficient appliances do tend to last longer as well, but the real benefit comes in the energy savings. Energy Star rated refrigerators are at least 20% more efficient than standard models, and Energy Star washing machines use 50% less water and 30% less energy than non-Energy Star options. That’s a lot of savings on both energy and water, which means you’re helping your home and the environment by investing in energy efficient appliances.
When you’re building a new home, it just makes sense to be as energy efficient as possible. You save money and build a better quality home. If you have questions about our energy efficient building strategies, please get in touch with us. We’re always here to answer questions and discuss your new West Michigan custom home. Talk to an expert at Whitmore Homes by calling 616-446-3482.