With environmental consciousness more pervasive than ever, making sure you understand how to maximize your home’s energy efficiency remains key to saving money and minimizing your carbon footprint. Especially if your home was built in the last few years, knowing how systems operate can help you stay in the know. With that, here’s a comprehensive look at what today’s homebuilding experts do to keep new builds running efficiently.
Updated Standards and the Whole-House Approach
In an ever-expanding bubble of technology and research, building codes change more frequently than ever. As such, today’s homebuilders must keep up-to-date, not only to stay on trend but to adhere to local and federal standards. The measures builders take often include the following:
Advanced Framing and Roofing – A more conscientious approach to construction, known as advanced house framing (or optimum value engineering), this method reduces lumber use and waste by replacing certain wood frames with insulation and using only single-lumber headers. In a wood-framed home, it cuts cost and excess. In addition, some builders choose cool roofs, constructed of reflective material that absorbs less sunlight, making the interior easier to cool in warm seasons.
Energy Star-Rated Appliances – If you’ve never heard of the energy star rating, it’s a system designed to approximate appliances’ energy efficiency. With many builders including these appliances in their homes, highly-rated refrigerators, washers/dryers and dishwashers are coming as standard offerings.
Efficient Heating and Cooling – Since extreme temperatures lead to heavy energy use, contemporary HVAC systems focus on climate controlling only those areas in need. To aid the conservationist approach, builders are also consistently looking to improve insulation methods and materials while ensuring a tight seal at every crevice. This practice might include insulating unfinished attics, exterior walls (between spaces like the garage, storage rooms, or shed roofs), unvented crawl spaces, and slab floors.
Multi-Pane Windows and Other Accessories – Along the same lines as insulation, it makes sense to focus on high-quality windows, as they can act as significant barriers to energy efficiency. On the upside, most modern homes come with double-pane or multi-pane vinyl windows capable of cutting utility costs in half. For additional energy savings, you can also request solar panels, geothermal heaters, and other add-ons that make green living more attainable.
How You Can Do More
On top of the energy-efficient methods already in play, you as a homeowner can go above and beyond to safeguard against excess consumption. For example, the landscaping choices you implement can have a cooling effect on your property:
- Deciduous trees planted along the southern boundary can block the sun’s warming rays.
- Tall shrubs and greenery concentrated to the north and northwest can reduce wind gusts.
- Any bushes, shrubs or vines planted near the exterior can act as additional barriers against outdoor elements, providing shade and insulation.
Along with smart landscaping, you can ask the right questions as the home construction process unfolds. More specifically, you can request that the house be evaluated by the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) and/or certified by a third-party organization regarding energy efficiency.