It’s no secret that today’s homes are more efficient than those of decades past. Gone are the drafty, poorly insulated homes of years ago, and instead new regulations and building codes force newly built homes to be more efficient by design. There are a lot of reasons for this – and a lot of benefits.
The Box is Better
What we call the “box” – the actual structure that gets created in the home building process – is being built more efficiently than ever before. The energy efficiency standards applied today are more strict, allowing for innovative ways to conserve energy and promote sustainability. Because of these standards, you can rest assured that any home we are designing for you will be more efficient than the one you grew up in. However, there are other things that we do to help our clients’ experience maximum efficiency during the building process.
Homes will be more efficient depending on which direction they face – N, S, E, or W. A home with windows facing south will likely have heating and cooling loss. This is something we consider when looking at a new home build.
We can be creative with room placement in custom homes. Many of today’s homes have heating or cooling “zones” based on room orientation, placement, and purpose. When choosing and installing an HVAC system, room placement is something to pay attention to.
This is another element that is likely improved from the past because of enhanced codes, however, there are still decisions to be made. Blown-in insulation choices will help to preserve heating, and icynene is also considered an “above code” option which will be more efficient. Although these options will be more expensive in the building process, they will save money in efficiency costs over the lifetime of your home.
“Smart” heating and cooling has become a whole new industry. Highly efficient options are easy to install and can save households hundreds each year. Check out Nest to get an idea of new thermostat options. Motion sensors, timers, and zoning can dramatically impact your monthly heating and cooling costs.
Along with window orientation, which is very important, consider the thickness of windows. You’ll want to note the e-rating on your window choices, and you may consider an extra layer of thickness due to the occasional severe winter conditions in the North East.
Never be afraid of the initial price of efficiency upgrades – they are almost always worth their cost. We can help you pick and choose which make the most sense. Some updates, such as solar panels, may have a significant upfront cost. However, most of these decisions will pay for themselves over time, either on a monthly basis (such as with the thermostat), or in resale value down the road. A good rule of thumb is that if you plan to live in the home for an extended time, you’ll want to make efficiency choices based on recouping costs over time. If you plan to sell quickly, you’ll want to select those that offer the most in resale value. We help clients with these decisions all the time, and definitely, have the know-how to advise you on the whole new world of energy efficiency.