8/13/2014

Energy-Efficient Home Design

With greater energy efficiency awareness and stricter building codes, many homeowners are shifting toward a more energy-efficient home design. An energy-efficient home design has a number of benefits for homeowners, as well as the environment. With proper planning, homeowners can build a home that will have long-term cost and energy savings as well as increased comfort.

When designing and building an energy-efficient home, homeowners can select from a number of standards and guidelines for the level of efficiency they wish to achieve. Certain internationally-recognized building standards such as Passive House or LEED can provide homeowners with guidelines for energy-efficient home design.

Whole Systems Approach

For optimal energy-efficient home design, homeowners are advised to use a whole-house systems approach. This way, homeowners, architects, and builders can be sure that they’re considering all possible details, interactions, and variables that ultimately affect the way a home uses energy. Important components to consider when using a whole systems approach are site conditions, the behavior of the home’s occupants, and the climate of the area in which the home will be built.

Other considerations or a whole-house systems approach include:

  • Air sealing and insulation
  • Space cooling and heating
  • Home electronics and appliances
  • Lighting and daylighting
  • Doors, windows, and skylights
  • Water heating
  • Ventilation

Heat and Energy Recovery Ventilation’s Role in Reducing Building Energy Consumption

Close to half of the global energy consumption is in buildings.  A high percentage of building energy consumption is from heating and cooling.  Incorporating high-efficiency Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) or Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) is an effective way to greatly reduce energy consumption while providing a constant supply of fresh air to the building occupants without the “opening windows” methods.  An HRV or ERV greatly reduces heating/cooling costs, and it costs little to operate/maintain.   A high-efficiency heat recovery ventilator unit likeZehnder’s CA350 HRV (for an average home) typically uses the energy consumption of less than a 40 watt light bulb.  It typically costs annually less than $40 to run the HRV continuously and another $44 for replacement filters for a constant supply of fresh-filtered ventilation for the home.

Energy Efficiency State Incentives

A growing number of states in the U.S. have begun to encourage the environmental, financial, and health benefits of energy-efficient home design. As an added reason to consider energy- efficient home design, a number of states are offering residents certain incentives for meeting these standards. Homeowners who build energy-efficient homes or remodel to meet certain energy efficiency requirements may be eligible to receive rebates and other financial incentives from their state government. If you’d like to learn more about the incentives available in your area, click here to visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy.