Before designing and building a new home, consider incorporating energy-efficient products and construction techniques. You’ll save energy and money in the long run. Other benefits include increased whole-house comfort in the hot summer and cold winter months, added home value, and improved building durability.
Designing and building an energy-efficient house requires careful planning and attention to detail. A whole-house approach can help you develop a successful strategy for incorporating energy efficiency into your home’s design. A whole-house approach takes into consideration every element of your home, including your building site, climate, insulation and air-sealing, heating and cooling, water heating, windows and doors, lighting, and appliances. Since any of these features can greatly affect the others and ultimately affects the overall efficiency of the house, using this approach will result in energy-saving benefits. Here are several energy-saving tips you should consider when building your new home to ensure it’s as energy-efficient as possible.
Properly installed insulation in floors, walls, and attics ensures even temperatures throughout the house, reduced energy use, and increased comfort. To make your home as energy-efficient as possible, it should be properly insulated from the roof down to its foundation. Efficient types of insulation include blown-in cellulose, sprayed or injected foam and rigid insulation. Insulation is measured in R-value and recommended R-value amounts vary by region.
Any air sealing efforts will complement your insulation efforts, and vice versa. Common techniques and materials for new homes include air barriers, airtight drywall, caulk, and weatherstripping, all of which can improve the energy efficiency of your new home.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling account for about 54 percent of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, making it the largest energy expense for most homes. In addition to using less energy to operate, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems can be quieter, reduce indoor humidity and improve the overall comfort of the home.
Water heating is the third largest energy expense in your home, behind heating and cooling. You can reduce your monthly water heating use and costs by choosing the right size and type of water heater, and one with the right fuel source for your home.
Energy-efficient windows and doors can help make your home more energy-efficient, thus lowering your heating, cooling, and lighting costs. If an exterior door or window is not properly installed or air sealed it can result in significant air leakage and energy losses. Choose doors and windows with high energy performance ratings.
Choosing more efficient light bulbs or fixtures can make a big difference on your utility bills. The most common energy-efficient lighting types include compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). They are significantly more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, and can be found in most hardware and home improvement stores.
In a typical U.S. home, appliances and home electronics account for about 20 percent of the energy bill. By choosing ENERGY STAR® appliances, you can reduce your home appliance use and costs and improve your home’s energy-efficiency.