How to Build a New Home to Ensure Energy Efficiency

October 17, 2012 Written by  Brianna Breach Comments Print
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If you're looking to build a new home to ensure energy efficiency, here are some suggestions for ways to reduce consumption and save money on energy and water. We realize there are many decisions that go along with building a new home, and it’s a promising sign that many prospective homeowners have begun to acknowledge the idea of energy efficiency.

The energy requirements for your home are heating, hot water, refrigeration, lighting and in some climates air-conditioning. For residential purposes when designing and building a new energy-efficient home, you can break energy usage into three components. First, is the building envelope. This includes insulation and air sealing levels. A homeowner can start with the heating and cooling systems because they are a crucial part of the home and from there move into any direction; whether it be lighting, windows, appliances, etc. For example, if you have a good heating system but all the heat constantly escapes through a leaky building envelope, then unfortunately it’s not helping you save money or reduce consumption . You’re just wasting efficiently produced conditioned air. *One note on windows: unless they are single pane and in horrible condition, they are never usually worth replacing. Now with that being said, if you a want to replace them for aesthetic reasons that is your decision, just don’t do it for energy savings.*

The second component is the building system. This component focuses on the efficiency of the hot water heater, the furnace, the appliances and other items within the home that consume energy. Again, if you have a good building envelope but your furnace is inefficient; that is an area for improvement.

The third component—and perhaps the trickiest—is the behavioral aspect. This component provides room for the most creativity. Say you have an efficient furnace and a solid building envelope, but like to keep the heat at 80 degrees and the windows open. If this is the case, this will clearly affect the amount of your energy consumption; resulting in a higher electricity bill. 

By looking at the home as an energy system with these three interdependent parts, you’ll see how each affect the performance of the entire system. Breaking it down into these three components keeps it simple but also covers all the areas that should be considered when building a new home to experience greater comfort, reduced maintenance and lower utility costs.

When trying to successfully optimize home energy efficiency, builders can also qualify for a variety of financial incentives that cover or exceed the cost of the certification fee. Homeowners may also consider including renewable energy systems that produce electricity and heated water.

Check out our infographic below with tips on how to build a new energy-efficient home. Click the link to view last week's blog post How Much Water Do We Waste Every Day? or check back next week for more energy saving tips.

build a new energy efficient home