Building an energy-efficient home is not just beneficial for the environment, it also helps you lower your energy bills — which leads to cost savings over the long term. You may even be able to receive tax credits to make a return on your investment sooner.
It’s far easier to build an energy-efficient home than it once was. You now have a huge range of options from green building materials, to techniques and appliances. To make your home as energy efficient as possible, aim to include as many of the following as you can in your home design.
1. Use Low-E Glass Technology for Windows and Sliding Glass Doors
Low-E (or low-emissivity) windows feature a special coating that absorbs ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) light without having any impact on visible light. Filtering out IR light stops heat from entering, whereas minimizing UV light prevents furnishings from fading. As the coating is only around 250 nanometers thick, it has no impact on the appearance of the glass.
When you use low-E glass, you can have as many windows as you want without needing to worry about heating up the interior of your home. You can even turn entire walls into frameless sliding glass doors.
2. Insulate Your Home Properly
One of the most effective ways to insulate your home is to focus on the exterior walls. Structural insulated panels combined with high-quality construction work is the best way to prevent heat loss.
3. Make Your Home Air Tight
In addition to installing insulation, weatherstripping and air sealing are necessary to prevent climate-controlled air from escaping. You’ll need to seal areas like joints, doors, sills, vents, and ducts.
4. Improve Air Quality
To compensate for the airtight sealing, you’ll need good ventilation. Top choices include heat recovery and energy recovery ventilation systems. These provide your home with fresh air without adding to energy costs.
5. Install Energy-Efficient LED Lights
Although they have a higher upfront cost, LED lights use far less energy than CFLs. They also last around 8 to 10 times longer.
6. Choose Cool Roofing Materials
A cool roof reflects light back up to the sky. This stops the roof from absorbing heat and warming up your home. If you live in a hot climate, cool roofing materials are essential.
7. Pick the Right Heating System and Air Conditioner
A heating and cooling system can make a big difference to the energy efficiency of your home. The best option is an air-source ductless heat pump (or mini-split heat pump). This system takes heat from the air, no matter the temperature. When the weather is hot, it removes hot air from your home and acts as an air conditioner. When the weather is cold, it takes warmth from the air outdoors and uses this to heat your home.
8. Invest in Solar Panels and a Solar Water Heater
Solar panels provide you with the most cost-effective source of renewable energy. They can power everything in your home from your heating system and air conditioner to all your appliances.
If solar panels are too expensive for your budget, another solar-powered option is a water heater. As around 15 percent of all your energy costs go to hot water, this will lead to some significant savings.
9. Maximize Passive Solar Gain
A passive solar design takes into account windows, walls, floors, and other parts of your home’s structure. It uses layout alone to collect and redistribute heat from solar energy in the winter and repel heat in the summer.
10. Consider Building a Straw Bale Home
For the ultimate energy-efficient home, consider building from straw bales instead of bricks. Not only does straw offer excellent insulation, it’s also a waste product and requires little energy to grow, making it one of the greenest construction materials around.
Building an energy-efficient home is no more challenging than constructing a conventional home — there are just some additional considerations. The best results of all come from combining energy efficiency with desirable features, such as low-E sliding glass doors to enhance indoor–outdoor living, hereby increasing both the value and the appeal of your home for future buyers.