New Home Planning: Step 4: Designing the Efficient Home
We have already mentioned that you should make sure that your home is oriented correctly to take advantage of solar gains and cooling options and now lets look at the actual construction.
One of the home components that I am a big fan of is SIP’s- Structural Insulated Panels. I have used them many times and from a company in Vermont called Winter Panel.
These panels are structural and become the walls with no further need for 2 x 4’s or 2 x 6’s for support. They also offer a panel that is 8 ¼” thick which gives the panel and rating of R-50. That makes for an efficient wall and roof system. Another advantage is the speed of installation because when the wall or roof is erected, it is sheathed, insulated and ready for whatever finish you want to apply to the exterior and interior walls such as clapboards or sheet rock. Also because there are no studs in the walls, there are no thermal breaks as with a stud built home.
Today there are many water efficient fixtures that you should look into as almost every brand offers them. Some of these cost a bit more but when you look to the long term, you end up saving money and the resource of water. The easiest way to make sure that you are buying the best water efficient products is to look for the water sense labels on items that you are considering purchasing.
The WaterSense label can be found on products for the home, including:
• Bathroom sink faucets and accessories - http://www.epa.gov/watersense/products/bathroom_sink_faucets.html
• New homes - http://www.epa.gov/watersense/new_homes
• Showerheads - http://www.epa.gov/watersense/products/showerheads.html
• Toilets - http://www.epa.gov/watersense/products/toilets.html
• Urinals - http://www.epa.gov/watersense/products/urinals.html
• Weather-based Irrigation Controllers - http://www.epa.gov/watersense/products/controltech.html
For more information you can go to http://www.epa.gov/watersense/ where you will find additional ways to save energy as well as water.
Lighting and Appliances
Again this isn’t very hard to do when you are looking for new lighting and appliances because just like the water sense label there is an Energy Star label that you can look for when making these purchasing choices. If you see that label on an item, you can be sure that it has passed a certain set of critera to have been included. The cost of running these lights and appliances is surely not going to decrease in the future so it’s even more important to make the right choices to start with.
There is also a great site that will help educate you on the benefits of using Energy Star products and what to look for and think about. http://www.energystar.gov/ .
Heating and cooling systems
For most people, their heating and cooling costs are more than likely their largest home expense as an item. Therefore it is important to choice the best available systems for your area and climate. Also consider what your fuel choices are such as natural gas, propane, oil or electric as well as the future projected costs associated with each of those. A top quality system compared to a cheaper, less efficient system will end up costing you less in the long run as energy costs rise.
Designing your new home to be as energy efficient as possible will pay big dividends for you and the environment.
Next time we look at: Choosing the right contractor
Todd Vendituoli, owner of Todd Vendituoli Construction L.L.C. in Vermont . He also writes for: