9 Must-Know Tips for Building an Energy-Efficient Home
Proper planning goes a long way. The same is true when you build a new home that is based on energy saving fundamentals. Energy-efficient homes not only save energy but also help you save money in the longer run. Moreover, your home becomes more durable and comfortable.
With time, the cost of energy is rising and will continue to increase, making it imperative to save energy. Energy-efficient home renovations or designs not only help save money but also help you decrease your carbon footprint by resorting to eco-friendly options.
With integrated planning and budget considerations, there are multiple options to cut down on energy costs. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) states that homes in the United States have become more energy-efficient over the past decade. Usually, fuel and electricity are converted to heat, light, and other forms that can be used within a home. A smart home can better utilize these resources and hold an aesthetic element that looks good to the eye too. Multiple resources can greatly influence the use of energy in automated homes.
Home design tips to build energy-efficient homes:
Whether you plan to build a new house or renovate your existing one, the following tips would help you in achieving a smart and energy-efficient structure for your smart, energy-efficient home.
- All About Location
- Ventilation Systems
- HVAC Systems
- Energy Saving Devices
- Building Envelope
- Roofing Materials
- Lighting Fixtures
- Solar Option
- Water Heating Systems
All About Location
While building an energy-efficient home, location, shape, and construction materials are prime considerations that will greatly influence the heating and cooling requirements. The maximum use of passive solar energy gain in winters and reduction of the heat gain during summers is the ideal scenario and can be achieved by optimizing the location and landscaping of the home.
Such strategies can make a huge difference and you’d be able to enjoy summers without your house being overheated. For instance, if the building is constructed in a way that is not exposed to the sun, walls are insulated, or the glass is shaded, then the solar gain is minimized. The cooling requirement will ultimately decrease which would help you save energy. But the tradeoff is a lower solar gain in the winters, however, if you live in an area that experiences short winters then this is ideal for you.
Similarly, if you’re living in a colder climate then you’d want to choose the location of your windows to be able to absorb maximum sunlight. South facing homes capture sunlight in the winter while blocking it during summer.
A well-designed ventilation system for an energy-efficient home doesn’t only provide comfort but also helps to save energy by preventing the overuse of electrical appliances used for heating and cooling purposes. Moreover, a ventilation system also filters out contaminated air. The simplest form of the ventilation systems are windows and mechanical systems with fans used to keep the interior pleasant. Your home design should ensure healthy and natural ventilation.
The ventilation system is an important part of your energy-efficient home design because it moves air and moisture across the barrier of the building envelope, and sometimes it also moves heat. A well thought out ventilation system can greatly minimize your overall energy usage.
The US Department of Energy estimates that heating and cooling accounts for 48% of energy use in an average US home. This research shows that HVAC systems are one of the largest consumers of energy. Energy can be saved and electricity bills can be reduced with the installation of an efficient HVAC system.
Energy saving is one of the concerns of the users and the Department of Energy shows that heat pumps can reduce electricity used for heating by 50% as compared to furnaces, baseboard heaters, etc. Opt for the most energy-efficient cooling unit for your home. Verify energy efficiency ratios and look out for SEER ratings and smart functionalities that can help increase your savings.
Energy Saving Devices
With the progress and advancement in technology, the selection of relevant smart devices can help you in saving and optimizing your home energy. Such devices use minimum energy to function as compared to regular devices, thus further reducing your electricity bills. An energy-efficient home needs to be smart to give a good return on investment and save money in the longer run.
You can utilize smart AC controllers, smart thermostats, smart bulbs, smart blinds, kitchen appliances, etc. to equip your smart home. Taking the example of smart AC controllers, they function by regulating your air conditioner usage according to your usage habits throughout the day. They can also be coupled with other smart home climate control appliances or be connected with Alexa or Google Home.
Every building/home uses an interior and exterior lighting system which might consume a lot of energy depending on the type of lighting fixtures or bulbs that are used. According to research by the U.S Energy Information Administration, light accounts for 14% of the electrical budget for an average home in the United States. It is thus advised to use fluorescent bulbs and LEDs because they generate less heat and more light which ultimately helps the users to save energy. LEDs provide good returns on investment and can fit in most of the light fittings.
Apart from LEDs and bulbs, windows of the building can be designed in such a way that the natural light can reduce the need for artificial light during the day. Moreover, aluminum-clad wood can be used for window frames since these windows provide better insulation making your home energy efficient.
You protect your smartphone from scratches by using a glass protector or an external cover, right? Similarly, a building envelope serves as a protector or covering for a house. The outer structure of the building is called the building envelope and it is one of the necessary energy systems. It works as a shield between the inside and outside environment protecting the house from the air, moisture, and general harsh weather conditions.
Considering the type of insulation used, building envelope maintains the interior temperature at any level that you desire. It can keep your home warm during winters and cool during summers. It is important considering an energy-efficient home design.
Body envelope includes insulation which can be very beneficial for energy saving. It lowers the load on the heating and cooling system of the house and makes your home energy efficient. It does not only maintain the desired temperature at home but also absorbs moisture and saves your walls from being damaged.
The roofing material is another important consideration for an energy-efficient home design. The material used for the roof of your house can absorb less heat by deflecting the sunlight, thus maintaining a constant temperature of your home. The choice of roofing materials makes a difference in overall energy efficiency. The materials used to build the roof helps you to save energy, decrease air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions, and keeps your home cool without air conditioning.
Initially, the selection of a roof could be expensive, but in the long run, it pays back and reduces your bill by regulating the temperature of your home during summers.
According to the latest U.S. residential solar market report, the residential solar market in the U.S reached a record high in the third quarter of 2019 with 712 megawatts of solar panels installed. Solar Panels can help build energy-efficient homes. If your area is exposed to the sun throughout the year then solar panels will surely help you to reduce electricity bills. These panels don’t require extensive maintenance, so it’s a one-time investment that saves you from a lot of hassle and makes you self-sufficient.
Solar panels are an environmentally friendly option since solar energy is converted into electrical energy, hence there are no harmful emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Once you have installed solar panels, you can use the energy for a host of different uses such as a solar heater for heating water, bulbs, and practically any home appliance.
Water Heating Systems
The home water heating system consumes a huge amount of electricity. There are multiple ways through which the water heating system can be improved and the user can save energy. One of the ways is to insulate the tank of water heater to retain heat. This lets your water heater to remain idle without the water losing much heat. Another option is to use solar water heaters, which are an eco-friendly option and can help in energy saving.
Choosing a water heating system could be a tough decision though. Learn more about the types of solar water heaters and how to choose the water heating system for your energy-efficient home.
Along with these tricks, the user should take care of the electricity being overused. Make sure your lights, HVAC system, or home appliances are turned off while you are away. Moreover, energy-efficient home plans have proven to be effective and help the user to save energy. It does not only let the user save energy but also helps to decrease the carbon footprint.
Energy-efficient house plans might be expensive at the start but can prove to be greatly beneficial in the longer term, thus letting you save money as well as energy.