Building a custom home that’s both beautiful and energy efficient is a popular must-have for homeowners today. The appliances, systems, windows, and many more choices you’ll make while designing your custom home have the potential to make your home more energy efficient. What features make a house energy efficient? What design choices can you make that will increase your custom home’s energy efficiency?
1. A Tight Envelope
Your home’s envelope refers to its walls, doors, roof, and windows. Choosing a builder that is knowledgeable about building a custom home in Cincinnati that will have a tight envelope means they will prioritize reducing the passage of air and moisture that can leak through the usual trouble areas, like windows, doors, and ventilation systems. This also includes proper and efficient insulation, especially in the attic.
A loose envelope will require more energy from your HVAC system to keep your home comfortable. It could also result in moisture leaks, which can encourage mold and mildew growth in your home, making your indoor air unhealthy.
2. In-Floor Radiant Heating
In-floor radiant heating isn’t only unexpectedly affordable, but it’s an efficient alternative to the traditional forced-air method for heating your space. Radiant heating is installed beneath the floor, so having this method installed during the construction of your custom home is far more practical than planning to install it later.
Some materials are more efficient in radiating heat than others. Ceramic tile, porcelain tile, and natural stone will conduct heat far better than vinyl and wood, for example.
Radiant in-floor heating has been popularly used in bathrooms, but consider using this method in other areas of your home, like the mudroom, sunroom, or kitchen. You’ll notice that your energy usage is greatly reduced during colder months because radiant heating uses less energy. Also, your HVAC system will run less frequently, making your home quiet and evenly heated.
3. Install a Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat can help you save energy by automatically adjusting the temperature of your home based on your schedule. It can help you save money on your energy bills by allowing you to customize your heating and cooling settings according to your needs. For example, you can program the thermostat to turn off the heating or air conditioning when you’re not home or when you’re sleeping.
Choose a system that you can control from your smart device to have even more control, so if you’re out of town, you can override the automatic settings so as to not waste excess energy heating or cooling an empty house.
4. Energy Efficient Windows and Doors
Windows and doors are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to energy loss in a home. Installing energy-efficient windows and doors is one of the simplest ways to make your home more energy efficient. Look for windows and doors that are certified by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) as being energy-efficient.
Low E windows and doors, for example, are a great asset to an energy-efficient home. They keep excess heat and UV rays out of the home while still allowing all of the natural light into your home. How it works is that each pane of glass is coated with a microscopic metallic layer. In conjunction with multi-pane windows, your home will be free of heat transmittance, cutting down on the amount of energy your heating and cooling system will use to keep your home comfortable.
By reducing UV rays that come through your windows and doors, you’ll also resist the typical fading and discoloration that can happen to your floors and upholstery with standard glass panes. So, you’ll save on replacing your finishes and furnishings down the road.
5. Choose Energy Efficient Appliances
Make sure your appliances have the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR appliances use less energy than traditional appliances, which can save you money on your energy bills in the long run. Fortunately, ENERGY STAR appliances have grown in popularity, so you’ll have plenty of models and styles to choose from, without having to settle on only a select number of appliances.
Energy-efficient models of everyday appliances are available for the kitchen and across the home. Choose to supply your home with hot water using a tankless water heater, choose an ENERGY STAR refrigerator, range, and washer and dryer. Even high-end appliance companies have energy-efficient models, so you won’t have to settle on style or performance.
6. Invest in a Solar Power System
A solar power system can be a large investment on the front end that will pay for itself over time by reducing your energy bills to nearly zero if you choose the right size system for your home. Solar panels convert sunlight into electrical energy which can be used to power anything in your home that would typically run on traditional electricity.
Fossil fuels make up for about 10% of emissions in the US and are still used in many household appliances, like the dryer, water heater, heating system, and range. When you replace your appliances with electric alternatives, you have the option of sourcing your energy instead from a solar power system.
To make the most of your solar power system, replace your water heater with a tankless option and other appliances with ENERGY STAR models. This way, if you choose a solar power system that’s smaller than what would typically power your entire home, you’ll still further reduce the amount you spend on utilities per month.
7. Increase Natural Light
Artificial lighting uses a lot of energy. To reduce the amount of artificial light your home needs, work with your designer on the placement, number, and size of windows to include in your custom home design plans. You can also incorporate skylights in rooms that don’t typically receive enough, or any, natural light, like bathrooms, your walk-in closet, and the kitchen.
Take advantage of the side of your home that gets the most sun and plan for more windows in those spaces. An open floor plan is also great for increasing the amount of natural light in your home because larger rooms tend to have more expansive wall space to include larger windows.
Natural light is also a great way to reduce bacteria in the home, making your indoor air healthier. Not to mention, the mood-boosting properties of natural light are a great reason to work large expanses of windows into your design, especially if working from home keeps you indoors for most of the day.
When you do have to use artificial lighting, use LED bulbs. They are long-lasting and only use 15% of the energy of conventional bulbs. They also come in a variety of types and colors and they’re compatible with dimmer switches, further reducing the amount of energy you’ll use and extending the life of your lightbulbs.
Your Energy-Efficient Home Builder in Cincinnati
Choosing even a couple of ways to reduce your energy usage in your custom Cincinnati home will help you save on utility costs and reduce your carbon footprint. The first step, however, is choosing a custom home builder that’s knowledgeable about these and other options for creating an energy-efficient custom home.
Chris Gorman Homes is a Cincinnati-based custom home builder with a track record for designing and building energy-efficient custom homes. We even have awards to prove it. Our design team and builders are well-versed in environmentally-conscious design and methods, making Chris Gorman Homes a leader in energy-efficient design. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and we’d be happy to discuss your energy-efficient custom home options.