In today’s eco-conscious world, there is a great focus placed on “being green” in almost every aspect of our lives. The same holds true with our homes as buildings alone contribute about 40% of total energy used in the United States. If you are in the position where you are considering building a custom home or are currently in the process and want to ensure your new house is friendly to the environment, then there are some important energy efficient strategies to consider. Implementing these tactics will not only reduce your carbon footprint but will also serve to reduce what you spend on utility bills.
- Energy Efficient Appliances: Install appliances that are friendly to the earth throughout your home—and especially in your kitchen. Appliances like refrigerators as well as laundry machines use about 13% of your home’s electricity—and this might vary depending on the size of your family and individual usage. Target Energy Star rated appliances—they are 20% more efficient than other standard models. Plus, you could get a tax deduction for using these appliances, too.
- HVAC Systems: The U.S. Department of Energy states that heating and cooling functions account for approximately 48% of home energy usage—this too, can vary depending on the climate you live in (extreme winters in the Chicagoland area, anyone?). Ultimately, the HVAC system that you use in your custom home has the ability to make or break you. Therefore, save energy and money by considering an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV). This is a system that will recycle air from the exhaust fan and ducts in your home to either preheat or precool. More simply put, it will reduce HVAC energy usage. Another strategy? Consider a high-efficiency heat pump, which can reduce the electricity used for heating by almost 50%.
- Smart Thermostats: Smart home devices might seem uber-trendy at the moment, but they also serve a fantastic purpose. Case in point, smart thermostats—simple systems that can save tons of energy when they are added to your HVAC system design. The technology behind these clever little devices will turn on or turn off the heating or AC when the temperature in your house meets or falls below a certain threshold. What’s more is they can be programmed to modify systems during certain times of day, i.e. at night or when you are not at home. This means that you aren’t wasting energy when you aren’t using it, saving you some cash in the process.
- The Right Insulation: The American Chemistry Council estimates that almost 40% of a building’s energy could be lost because of air infiltration. This means you have to address the areas of your home, specifically in your walls and your roof, where heat is being lost during the winter and cool air is being lost in the summer. The best way to do this? Insulate your house with spray foam, widely recognized as the most energy-efficient insulation on the market today. Yes, this is a bit more expensive than traditional fiberglass insulation; however, it also stands to prevent almost all air leakage and comes with the ability to fit into spaces that fiberglass cannot. Plus, it lasts longer (up to 80 years compared to 10-25 for fiberglass) and will add structural integrity to your custom home.
- Doors and Windows: Building off the last point, don’t lose the benefits of insulating your home with spray foam by installing energy inefficient doors and windows. Again, these might be costlier on the front end, but in the long term the savings will add up. Again, target Energy Star windows and doors—statistics show they can reduce energy bills in your home by 23% on an annual basis. Just so you know—and to complete these last two points—at SeBern custom homes, we use Blown in Fiberglass insulation and thermal pane windows.
These are just a few ideas to consider as you start brainstorming on how to not only make your custom home beautiful and truly represent your family’s lifestyle, but also remain friendly to the environment. For more information about implementing eco-conscious strategies in your custom home, reach out to SeBern Custom Homes today—a member of our team would be happy to speak with you.
Call us at 630-377-7767 for your free appointment.