Creating a custom home is an opportunity to design a space perfectly suited for your needs. You want a house that will work for you, saving you both energy and money. Building an energy efficient home will benefit you financially and the community environmentally.
Here’s what you can do to build a home that is more energy efficient:
In your home, there are two major areas in which you can be wasting energy (and money): the kitchen and the laundry room. Selecting appliances that conserve energy will make your home more energy efficient and will help you to save money.
Federal standards require that dishwashers use no more than 4.25 gallons of water per cycle. You can select a more energy efficient model by looking for dishwashers with the ENERGY STAR label. These certified models use less water than the federally mandated maximum, saving you both energy and money.
When shopping for a refrigerator, assess the Energy Guide label to see how much electricity in kilowatt-hours (kWH) each specific model uses in one year. Aim for the smallest number of kWh: this means less energy used – and less money spent!
The easiest way to save energy and money with your washing machine is to use less water and to use cooler water. When building your energy efficient home, look for washing machines with the ENERGY STAR label – these models clean your clothes with 35% less energy and 20% less water than other models.
Look for the same ENERGY STAR label on prospective dryers use 20% less energy than typical dryers. For added efficiency in your home, consider a dryer that has a moisture sensor, which automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry. This not only conserves energy, but also protects your clothes from excessive wear-and-tear from the dryer.
For even greater efficiency, consider buying drying racks to air dry your clothes and avoid using the dryer (and the extra energy) all together.
When building an energy efficient home, changing your methods of lighting is one of the quickest and easiest ways to save both energy and money. Traditional incandescent light bulbs give off a lot of heat, use a lot of energy, and are expensive to operate. You can reduce the energy output of your home by using more energy efficient light bulbs and natural daylight.
Energy efficient light bulbs
Energy efficient light bulbs are now offered in many different sizes, levels of brightness, and color to suit every room in your house. For your energy efficient home, there are a couple of different options:
- Halogen incandescents: These light bulbs are available in many different shapes and colors, and may be used with dimmers
- CFLs: CFLs are compact fluorescent lamps – many people recognize them as the “curly” light bulbs. CFLs use about 1/3 of the energy of halogen incandescents and can last for up to 15,000 hours of operation.
- LEDs: LEDs stand for light emitting diodes. They are, perhaps, the most energy efficient lights on the market. LEDs use only 25-30% of the energy of halogen incandescents and can last between 8-25 times longer.
Another way to increase your energy efficiency is to incorporate natural daylight (via windows, skylights, etc.) into your home. Using natural light during the day reduces the need for artificial lighting; thus, saving you energy and money.
When designing your energy efficient home, consider the placement of your windows for the best aesthetic effect and the greatest energy efficiency:
- South-facing windows: Allow the most sunlight to enter the home during the winter and limit the amount of direct sunlight received in summer.
- North-facing windows: Bring natural light into the house with even distribution and minimal glare. Also, bring in little to no unwanted heat in the summer.
- East- and West-facing windows: Can allow for good natural light in the mornings and evenings, but will bring in unwanted heat during the summer and little effective solar heat during the winter.
Heating and cooling
Heating and cooling are responsible for almost half of the average home’s energy use. When building your energy efficient home, considering new methods of heating and cooling can make a big impact in reducing the amount of energy you use and, consequently, the amount of money you spend.
Active solar heating
Active solar heating systems use solar energy to heat a fluid (liquid or air). The solar heat is then transferred to an interior or storage space for later use.
This method of heating is ideal for cold climates with sufficient solar exposure. Active solar heating is a great option for building your energy efficient home because it helps to reduce your use of expensive heating fuels, like propane or oil. This produces two benefits: 1) a much smaller fuel bill and 2) less air pollution.
Furnaces and boilers
Most homes rely on furnaces or boilers for heat. Unfortunately, these old furnaces and boilers operate at only 56% to 70% efficiency. When building your energy efficient home, consider upgrading to a new furnace with the ability to operate at up to 98.5% efficiency. These newer furnaces convert nearly all of the fuel into useful heat for your home. As a result, you can significantly reduce both the size of your fuel bill and the amount of pollution exhausted from your furnace.
As always, when shopping for an upgraded furnace, look for the ENERGY STAR label to ensure maximum energy efficiency.
Ventilation cooling is the least expensive and most efficient method for cooling a home. By keeping windows opened and taking advantage of the wind, you can help cool your home with natural ventilation.
As a supplement, window, ceiling, or other circulatory fans are sufficient for cooling most homes. For larger homes, consider a whole house fan, a great energy efficient substitute for traditional air conditioning.
An energy efficient home should be a priority for every homeowner. Greater energy efficiency means both financial and environmental benefits, for you and the larger community.
Contact Brendon Homes about building an energy efficient home, custom for you.