Energy efficient homes are a fast growing segment of the home building industry here in The Bay Area. Creating an energy-efficient home isn’t difficult. If you are building a new one, simply starting with this mindset will set you up for success when choosing framing or insulation. If you already have a home, you may have to get a bit more creative, but it can be done.
When looking for ways to make your home more energy-efficient, you have to start by fixing the problems causing an overuse of energy. Once you have fixed those issues, you will start to see a decrease in your energy bill, and an increase in savings on a monthly basis.
Building An Energy-Efficient Home
If you consider building a new home, you can easily create a more energy-efficient home by starting with the frame. Depending on what type of house you desire, there are different things you can do to save energy and costs.
Creating an energy-efficient home starts with small things like energy-efficient lightbulbs or insulating the cracks and corners in your home. It may branch into big things like replacing appliances, or redoing windows and doors, but the money you will save after the fix is extremely worth it.
No matter what the building process looks like, or what you desire in a home, energy-efficient processes and changes can be made to allow for cost savings and waste-reducing end results. It is important that you find a company that supports your desire for energy-efficiency so your home actually feels like the home you want.
If you have ever desired to live in an earthy, underground-style home, this could be your sign! Living in a home constructed underground, even if only partially, is an extremely energy-efficient way to build a home.
Living in this kind of home would allow you to use the natural heat blocking process that the grass, dirt, and organic material uses, which would keep your house cooler in the summer. Then, in the winter, you would be taking advantage of the insulation that the earth would provide, therefore keeping your house warmer without using so much energy.
Most of the time, homes built underground are more durable than those built normally because of their protection from the elements. This usually means you are less likely to have damages or issues that need to be fixed.
Now, one of the downfalls of an earth-sheltered home is the lack of natural lighting you will be able to capture. This will require you to use far more interior lighting, and that can drive up your energy costs. However, due to the lack of need for cooling and heating, many people still see it as more efficient than a typical home.
Not only do log homes look great, very classy and traditional, but they are also extremely energy efficient. Since building a log home requires the use of full, entire logs for the frame, you end up with so much natural insulation against outside elements.
Now, log homes require a pretty hefty amount of maintenance and care, so it is important to know what you are getting into. While they will automatically be incredibly energy efficient, to keep them that way, you have to maintain the wood and ensure that things were built correctly, to begin with.
Advanced House Framing
Also known as optimum value engineering, this is a great way to build your house to create the most effective and energy-efficient home possible. This process of framing a house reduces the use of lumber, and any waste that comes from building a house, therefore lowering the resources taken from the earth and ensuring minimal stuff is dumped in landfills.
Solar homes are great options for having energy-efficient homes due to their power source, which is largely just the sun. While these houses have not yet been able to run off only solar power, even using half of your power from the sun is enough to make a large environmental impact.
When the sun hits your roof or any of the windows in your house, it is heating up the air in your house, which your air conditioner will have to cool down. You can get a roof that cools down your house instead of absorbing heat.
You will most likely see more of an impact during the summer months versus the winter, but you will notice a difference in the overall temperature of your house, as well as the costs of your energy bill.
When planning out the windows in your house, try to create as much natural light as possible. The more natural light you allow in, the less artificial light you will need to use throughout the day.
Natural Lighting is a great way to help your house stay warm in the winter as well! The more sunlight that can get into your home, the more space it will naturally warm, rather than your heating appliances having to do the work.
Small Energy-Efficient Changes
If you already have a home that you love and don’t want to move out of, no worries, you can make small, or in some cases larger, changes that help your home become more energy-efficient without having to build new things or tear down walls.
While it may seem like you are doing small things that won’t matter much, you will start to see improvements in the efficiency of your home and energy bill over time.
The best way to figure out how your home uses energy is by doing an energy-efficient audit. You can find companies that will come out to your home and look at your energy consumption to determine if it could be better.
Once they determine that you could be more efficient, they will guide you on ways you could go about saving energy in your home. Chances are, they will be able to offer their services to fix certain issues and make different systems better.
Using natural lighting as much as possible will lower energy costs since you won’t use interior lights as much. This will help you heat your home without using so much energy from your central heating system in the winter.
However, this can cause your home to be hotter than preferred during the summer, making your central cooling system work more than it would if you kept it darker in your house.
While using natural lighting can cause higher energy costs in the summer, most people still report that they see lower costs due to not using interior lights throughout the day and having the offset costs through the cooler part of the year.
If you are using interior lights, chances are they aren’t very bright, so you usually use 2-3 lights versus just the one you need; if you switch your lightbulbs to LED bulbs, not only are they brighter, but they last 20 times longer than regular lightbulbs while using less energy.
They cost more to purchase up front, but you will make that money back and save even more money by not replacing them as often and using less energy, therefore lowering your utility bill.
Looking through your appliances is a great way to fix or improve your energy consumption. Depending on how old your appliances are, they may use far more resources or energy than necessary. When searching for a new appliance, look for one that is certified by Energy Star. This is a great way to be sure that you have an efficient appliance.
Essentially what you are looking for is an appliance that achieves the same goal as the current appliance you have while using significantly fewer resources. So your stove needs to use less electricity or gas to warm up and cook food at the same temperature as an older one.
On average, older dishwashers use around 10 gallons of water, where newer, more efficient ones use 5-6.5 gallons per load—decreasing your consumption by 4 gallons a load is incredible! You will see drastic changes in your energy bill, as well as an impact on the environment.
Insulating Leaks On Windows and Doors
You may think your windows and doors have great seals, but chances are there is air flowing through the cracks and crevices they have. This means you are losing your cooled or heated air to the outdoors, and the outside air is coming in.
After you do an energy-efficiency audit, they should be able to tell you if your windows and doors need to be replaced or if the problem can be fixed with some caulk and new weather strips. A good home remodeling contractor can help find energy saving opportunities around your home.
If you simply need to touch up the seals on your door, simply buy some caulk and redo the border. The weather-strips are the pieces that help the door to have a nice tight seal while also ensuring the outdoor elements can’t come inside; those are simple to replace as well.
While it may seem counterproductive to buy fans to use instead of letting your central cooling system do all the work, it can actually save you hundreds of dollars every year. If you buy oscillating fans for larger rooms or stay hotter than others, you end up helping the air circulate better.
When air circulates, it will push hot air away from the ceiling and allow it to mix in with the cooler air, creating a lower temp throughout the whole room. This will stop your central cooling system from running as frequently due to the lower overall temperature, rather than certain parts of the house being hotter.
Standby Energy Consumption
Simply turning off any electronic equipment obviously reduces its energy consumption; however, your equipment can still be using a substantial amount of energy just from being plugged in on standby mode.
Even cords that aren’t plugged up to anything, such as phone chargers or laptops cords, still use energy! Unplugging the electronics that don’t need constant electricity can save you hundreds of dollars every year!
Having an energy-efficient home is helpful to not only your bank account but also the environment. When your home uses less energy, that is less waste put into the earth and fewer resources that are taken from it.
Having an energy-efficient household isn’t hard if you are willing to do a bit of research and trust the process. Upfront costs may seem counterproductive, but the benefits you end up with are far more worth it than wasting energy.
Element Home Remodeling is a home remodeling contractor in Mountain View. We specialize in modern, energy efficient homes that are custom designed for each home owner. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
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