When it comes to energy-efficient homes, the details matter. After all, your home is the space where you will be spending the majority of your time for the foreseeable future. Every decision you make about its design, construction, and performance has a direct impact on its sustainability and utility costs. To that end, there are several key steps you can take when designing an energy-efficient home. Each of these considerations will have an impact on your utility bills and help protect the environment in the long run. Let’s take a look at some of these essential considerations for building an energy-saving home.
Research your options
Before you even design the home itself, you should research the different energy-saving technologies available. Certain materials, fixtures, and appliances are more energy-efficient than others and will likely save you money in the long run. But before you buy, make sure you compare everything across the board. Certain features, like a smart thermostat, may seem like a no-brainer when it comes to energy efficiency, but if they come with a pricey up-front cost, they might not be worth it in the long run. That’s why it’s essential to know your options before you even begin designing the home. That way, you can be sure to make the right decisions from the beginning and save yourself a lot of money and energy in the long run.
Make the right decisions from the beginning
Once you have researched the different energy-saving technologies and fixtures available, make sure you choose the most energy-efficient ones from the beginning. Not only are these often a lower upfront cost, but you will also be able to recoup your investment in energy savings much faster than if you went with a less efficient option. It is important to note, however, that energy efficiency does not only come from energy-saving appliances and fixtures. You can also increase the energy efficiency of your home by simply making certain key design decisions. For example, you can maximize the natural flow of sunlight into your home by placing your home in a sunny location, choosing a southern-facing lot, and designing your home with lots of large windows. Additionally, you can improve insulation, airflow, and heating and cooling systems to further maximize the energy efficiency of your home.
Install a programmable thermostat
The simplest and most effective way to reduce energy costs is to control your thermostat. Before you even begin to design your home, be sure to install a programmable thermostat to help you manage your home’s temperature. If you don’t have one already, a programmable thermostat can be installed for as little as $15. Along with being affordable, they’re easy to use and can save you up to $150 per year on your energy costs.
Use durable, low-maintenance materials
Building with energy-efficient materials comes with the expectation that they will last for a long time. Not only will these materials be more durable, but they will also require less maintenance over the years. If you plan to build a home, use low-maintenance materials like vinyl, wood, steel, and concrete. Avoid using materials like stone, hardwood, or tile. While they may look beautiful on the surface, they’re more fragile and require more maintenance to keep looking great.
Be cognizant of the location and angle of sunlight
When designing your home, be sure to consider the location of the sun. If your home is facing the wrong direction, it could be costing you more energy than necessary. Similarly, you want to watch out for shadows from neighboring trees or buildings. Your neighbors may appreciate the shade, but they could also be blocking sunlight from reaching your home. This could be causing your home to be cooler than necessary during the hot summer months. Be sure to analyze your surroundings and consider the sun’s location and shadows. Doing so will help you design a home that is energy-efficient but also maximizes its potential.
Utilize a small but powerful ventilation system
When designing your home, consider what type of ventilation system you want. A powerful ventilation system will help keep your indoor air quality at its best. However, a small ventilation system will help you save energy. If you live in a dry climate, be sure to have a ventilation system installed, even if it’s a small one. This will help balance the indoor air while reducing your energy usage. Even when you’re not actively cooling or heating your home, your air conditioning and heating systems are still consuming energy. A small ventilation system can help reduce this energy consumption.
Install an energy recovery program
If you’re designing a new home, consider installing an energy recovery program in your central HVAC system. If you have an existing home, you can retrofit it with an energy recovery program. What is an energy recovery program, you ask? It’s a system that captures the indoor air and uses it for the outdoor air. This helps to reduce the amount of energy needed to cool and heat your home. Additionally, it reduces the number of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere, which is good for the environment.
Choose your windows wisely
Windows are a key design element in any home, but it can also be an opportunity to save energy. If you have new windows installed, be sure to choose energy-efficient windows. This will help to reduce the amount of heat and UV rays that enter your home. These windows will have an impact on your energy costs, so be sure to choose ones that are rated highly for energy efficiency.
Don’t forget to focus on indoor air quality
As we’ve discussed, a strong ventilation system is a key design element when building an energy-efficient home. However, there are other considerations to keep in mind when designing indoor air quality. This includes things like the type of flooring you choose and the type of paint you select for your walls. If you plan to use carpeting in your home, avoid using synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester. Instead, opt for natural fibers like wool and cotton. Both types of fibers are naturally anti-microbial, so they are less likely to trap and hold bacteria. Wool is especially beneficial as it is naturally fire-resistant and is the best option for allergy sufferers. Your choice of flooring can also have a significant impact on indoor air quality.
Install a smart home automation system
If you are planning on building a new home and have some control over its design, incorporating a smart home automation system from the start will save you time and money down the line. The system should incorporate things like a smart thermostat, which will allow you to control your heating and cooling systems remotely, and a smart outlet system, which will allow you to automate your appliances and lights. You can even add voice control functionality with an Amazon Alexa or Google Home device. This will allow you to control your entire home with your voice and make your life much more convenient and energy efficient.
Seal up your home
One of the first things you will want to do when designing an energy-efficient home is to seal it up. Sealing your home, particularly the roof and windows, will help keep out the cold, retain the heat and make your home more energy efficient. Typically, roof shingles are installed with solid rubber, which can be used to seal your roof and protect it from rain and snow. Windows can be sealed with a variety of different materials, like plastic, aluminum, or even plexiglass. You can also, if you have the budget, replace your windows with energy-efficient models. These windows are designed to let in as much light as possible while still being energy efficient.
Install solar panels
If you have the space, budget, and patience for it, installing solar panels on your roof can help you power your entire home with renewable energy. Just make sure that you get a roof that can accommodate them if you choose to go this route. You will want to work with an engineering company to ensure that your roof can support the weight of the solar panels. And, of course, you will want to check with your local homeowners’ association to make sure that such panels are permissible in your community. However, if you go this route, you will likely save a significant amount on your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint as well. Additionally, many governments and utilities offer incentives to homeowners who go solar. So, when designing an energy-efficient home, you should absolutely consider installing solar panels.
Design your home with energy-saving in mind
Once you have your energy-saving technology, appliances and fixtures decided upon, you can start designing your home with energy efficiency in mind. For example, you can place the thermostat on an interior wall, which will allow you to control the temperature of each room individually. You can also maximize the flow of sunlight into your home by choosing a southern-facing lot and placing your windows strategically. These are just a few of the many things you can do to design your home with energy efficiency in mind. There are many more design considerations, like installing weather stripping and doors and adding insulation, that can make your home more energy-efficient.
Get creative with your design
All of these considerations will help make your home more energy-efficient, but you can also get creative with your design to maximize energy-saving potential. For example, you can plant trees and shrubs that will help shade your home during the summer months and let the sunlight in during the winter. You can also create a landscape with a porous surface that can reduce runoff and increase water retention, leading to a reduction in your water usage. You can also utilize DIY hacks to make your home more energy efficient. For example, you can add insulation to your walls with recycled newspaper and Styrofoam to save on energy costs.
Stay on top of maintenance
Finally, you can also keep your energy bills lower by staying on top of maintenance. This means scheduling regular tune-ups with qualified professionals to clean and repair your HVAC system and plumbing, as well as replace your filters. You can also turn off appliances and lights when they are not in use and use energy-efficient appliances when you can. And, in the long run, these measures for designing an energy-efficient home will pay off. You will likely see a reduction in your utility bills and a decrease in the amount you have to pay.
Designing an energy-efficient home has many benefits. It will not only help protect the environment and lower your utility bills, but it will also make your life more convenient. There are many things you can do to increase the energy efficiency of your home. By incorporating the considerations above, you will ensure your home is built to maximize energy savings.
One thing is clear: building a sustainable home that uses as little energy as possible is a challenging endeavor. It will require extensive research and planning, as well as a willingness to spend time and money. However, the benefits of an energy-efficient home are undeniable. Not only will your utility bills be lower, but your home will be healthier and more comfortable to live in. With these 13 key steps in mind, you’re on your way to designing an energy-efficient home that serves you and your loved ones for many years to come. Now that you know what to look for when designing an energy-efficient home, go out and make it happen! Your home will thank you for it.