Simple Energy Savings (But Efficient) Ideas for New Homes
Today new home designs are incorporating the latest in energy savings. From the way the house is situated on the lot to the systems that power the home, architects and builders are focusing on green home development across the country.
The Materials Factor
Saving energy in your home is more than saving money on the power bill. Everything you use to build your home has a cost at some point.
At one time, mahogany was the common hardwood used for woodwork and paneling in new homes. Today many of those early building are on historical registers and the beauty of mahogany is apparent through the property.
Today the supplies used to build your home are often chosen for their manufacturing and environmental savings. Bamboo is now one of the most popular flooring options. This is not the cheapest or most expensive wood floor you can install but is a renewable resource.
Bamboo grows quickly and provides a source of strong, attractive flooring that is long lasting and has little harmful impact on the environment. Bamboo is also being used to build kitchen cabinets and other household items today.
Carpeting of the past focused on luxury or on using manmade fibers that provided stain resistance. Many carpets in new homes carried the chemical odor of treatments meant to reduce linting and prevent stains from being absorbed.
Both the fibers and the chemical treatments posed hazards to the environment. Manmade fibers dumped in landfills did not decompose rapidly and the off gassing of the chemicals caused allergy problems for many new homeowners.
We want comfort in our homes but are no longer willing to choose comfort without regards to the effect on either our own financial health in running the home or in what damage the products may have on the environment.
Every product installed as a new home is built comes from some manufacturing process. Builders are increasingly aware of the need to avoid products where the plants cause runoff or emissions that poison the ground or contribute to climate change.
Situating a New Home
Our ancestors understood the necessity for situating a home in a way that best suited the surrounding environment. Shade trees on western exposures kept the hot afternoon sun from overheating living space.
Eastern and southern exposures were best for large windows and light. A line of windbreak trees or shrubs were planted a distance form the northern exposure of a new home where harsh winds are common during winter months.
Home build lots are no longer clear cut as a standard preparation for building a new home. Instead, trees on the property are kept and preserved as much as possible as we know the benefits they offer.
Home heating and cooling systems are carefully sized to fit the interior space of the home. An HVAC system that is either too small or too large for the home will waste money on energy use. Heat pumps are standard today and use the geothermal energy of the earth to boost energy efficiency of HVAC systems.
Concrete or Steel
Many builders today use concrete or steel instead of wood framing or as a way to reduce the amount of wood used in building the home. Limits on logging and efforts to reduce tree loss have increased the price of framing timber and made it financially feasible to use other materials in the framing process.
Many areas of the country are suitable for digging basements for new homes. At one time a basement was little more than cold storage for canned and preserved foods.
Today basements are dug deeper to provide the same headroom found on other floors. The basement provides for warm floors above even during the coldest weather and offers an ideal area for a family room or game room that is well insulated by the surrounding earth and requires little energy for heat or cool. The square footage listed for many new homes includes a finished basement.
Today a home builder will feature energy savings tips for homes as a top selling feature for his services.
High performance insulated windows, controlled air flow throughout the home, improved ceiling and wall insulation and sealed duct systems are features commonly advertised by builders.
Increasingly, home builders are adding a focus of building in an environmentally friendly way. High end new homes may include solar features in the design or use passive solar for sun rooms that will spread warmth to other areas of the home.
Energy saving ideas for new homes today has a wider focus than simply saving money on power bills. The goal is to cause as little environmental damage as possible by installing only eco-friendly products in a home designed to be comfortable, beautiful, and cost effective.