When building a new home, most everyone is interested in energy-efficient strategies, cost-saving measures and keeping utility bills at a minimum. When you’re beginning to envision your dream home, some simple design features can make a big difference in the comfort and efficiency of your home. Although gas prices may be at their lowest in years, that’s bound to change. One thing is certain, cost for utilities will only increase and instituting energy–saving measures with your design and construction will save you thousands over the years.
There are many green and energy efficient measures that can be implemented before the home design process begins. There may be a slight increase in the upfront costs, but most sources including ENERGYSTAR.gov estimate that you will have a quick return on your investment (5 years or less), depending on how many energy efficient strategies are implemented.
- Primary in considering energy efficiency is the site and how the home is placed on the lot for maximum passive solar gain, as well as protection from the hot summer sun. A simple directional and design tweak can make the difference between enjoying the winter sun streaming in the windows to overheating because of exposure in the summer.
- Landscaping can also play an important role in energy savings. Planting deciduous trees on west and south sides of a home creates shade that shelters those aspects from summer sun. Come fall, they lose their leaves and allow winter sun to passively heat the house.
- Insulation and wall systems: There are many energy efficient wall systems including ICFs (Insulated Concrete Forms), thicker wall and roof construction with higher R value insulation. Blown-in foam insulation is recognized as one of the most cost-effective and energy efficient forms of insulation and the preferred insulation of Kogan Builders.
- Windows: Having high quality windows with a U-factor and Low-e (Low emissivity) appropriate for the climate and direction of the window is critical. Here in the mountains, where we have maximum UV rays year round, cold winters and beautiful views, the windows, especially, play a significant role in energy efficiency and can make or break your comfort level in winter or summer.
- Going along with the windows and insulation is the potential for air leakage. Proper sealing around all joints, sills, ducts, doors, vents, etc. can significantly affect your heating costs.
- ENERGY STAR rated appliances. You know those bright yellow stickers on refrigerators, washers and dryers? Those are calculations from ENERGY STAR that tell you how much you will save in energy cost in a year. A significant savings is achieved when all the appliances in your home are ENERGY STAR certified.
- You can spend as much as 54% of your energy bills on your heating costs. Choosing the most efficient heating system for your house and our mountain climate is essential. A few ways that Kogan Builders ensures energy savings on heat include programmable thermostats and the latest in heating systems. Many mountain homes we’ve designed and built have the highly efficient in-floor radiant heating.
- LED lighting has come a long way in the last ten years. It is the lighting of the future and will save you hundreds of dollars and last 10-20 years before they need replacing. It’s simply one of the quickest returns on your investment and virtually all fixtures will work with LEDs.
- Heating and storing water is a major source of your utility costs. It is estimated that 17% of your energy costs are because of how you heat water. The tankless water technology, as opposed to the more common hot water storage tank has gained a foothold and come a long way in development. There may be additional venting and installation costs upfront, but in the long run, this method of heating water provides instant hot water, eliminates storing hot water in a tank that may not be used for hours or days and reduces the space requirements needed for a large tank.
- Active solar systems will immediately reduce or eliminate your electric bill depending on the size of the system. Solar PV (photovoltaic electric) systems continue to rise in demand and decrease in cost. Kogan Builders has installed active solar systemsthat feed the excess electricity back to the grid. Our homeowners are seeing a return on their investment six years later and no dollars spent on the electric company. As the market shifts and tax incentives change, it’s hard to calculate the ROI, but it’s safe to say that as energy costs increase, solar installations will increase and so will your cost-savings.
As a certified green building professional, Kogan Builders designs and builds homes with the most efficient strategies within your budget. If energy efficiency, comfort and cost-savings are some of your goals for your custom home, let us help you get started with a sustainable, energy-saving design.