March 3, 2024

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Transforming Houses Into Homes

How to Plan Your Efficient Energy Home

The time to start planning an efficient energy home is before you construct it. There are a number of factors you should consider before you build your energy efficient dream home.  The building materials, placement of ventilation, and type of heating and cooling systems are all important.  The climate and region of the country you are located in will also be determining factors when deciding the best way to design your efficient energy home.

If you live in a cold climate, simple things like placing windows on the side of the house that receives the most sunlight can have a big impact on the amount of energy you will consume.  The rays of the sun will break those chilly mornings, and help you cut your heating costs. Also make sure that there are no gaps beneath the windows and doors. Even small gaps can allow cold drafts to invade your living space, and let the heated air out, which will cost you more money. Unfortunately small gaps around doors and windows can even be found in a brand new efficient energy home, so don’t skip this step just because your home is new.

Another way to save on energy costs is to install an area heating system, such as a wood burning fireplace insert, free standing wood burning stove, or pellet stove. These units are very efficient and can cut your heating bills by as much as 80{7fcbeda410c9f02a886f83a59a5af911565ec7141a170d397df667872a958d9e}. They will also keep you and your family toasty warm all winter long. These systems can usually be installed for $3,000 to $4,000, but with today’s energy prices it shouldn’t take long to recover your investment.

If your home has a traditional fireplace, you may want to install a heat circulating grate system. These systems are not expensive and they can push up to 40,000 BTU’s per hour into the living area of your home. Also consider spending $400-$500. to have a professional install a top mount damper on your fireplace chimney. Top mount dampers seal much more tightly than traditional dampers and can save you as much as 10{7fcbeda410c9f02a886f83a59a5af911565ec7141a170d397df667872a958d9e} per year on your heating bill.

If you live in a warmer climate, you may want to try to place mylar inside of the windows to reflect the sun’s radiant heat away from the house.  This will significantly lower the temperature in most homes.  Once again, you will want to check your windows and doors for cracks that could allow the cool air to escape.  The efficient energy home needs to have as little air leakage as possible.  

You can raise your air conditioner settings a little higher without noticeable discomfort if you use fans. If it is particularly humid, the use of fans will make you feel more comfortable. Each degree you raise the thermostat on your air conditioner can save you up to 5{7fcbeda410c9f02a886f83a59a5af911565ec7141a170d397df667872a958d9e} per month on your energy bills.

As for building materials, your choice of insulation is important no matter what climate you live in. Your home should have the proper types of insulation in the walls as well as the attic and basement.  This will make a tremendous difference in your efficient energy home bills.