With energy prices rising, building a energy smart home is more important than ever. A large part of balancing a modern budget is keeping the utility costs down, especially for families making house payments. Fortunately, today it is very easy to design and build an energy efficient home. So what is the recipe for energy efficiency?
Building a Energy Smart Home Recipe: Smaller House
For many years, having a larger home was a status symbol. Then when heating and cooling costs went up, those people found it very expensive to keep their homes comfortable. Today trends are toward smaller more air tight houses. While most people consider a smaller house to be between 1000 and 2000 square feet, some of the extreme green architects are suggesting homes around 500 square feet. These types of homes feature multipurpose areas where the living room converts to a dining room and the kitchen takes a corner of this room. Picture a large comfortable sectional sofa, with a coffee table that rises to dining height. It is like the concept of a great room, only smaller. Many of these homes have luxury features, which are suddenly affordable since the home itself is so small. Good design is the key to packing the most into a home that is less than 1000 square feet.
Building a Energy Smart Home Recipe: Thicker Walls
There is a trend to use two-by-six inch studs instead of two-by-four studs for walls. It makes the house stronger and affords more room for insulation. Another new development is the use of insulated concrete panels. Insulated concrete panels have some of the highest R-values possible for walls. Some offer R-values in the 60s. Insulated concrete panels are also stronger and more durable than most materials. They are created by sandwiching a thick foam core panel between two sections of wire mesh, and either pouring, spreading or spraying the panel with two inches of concrete on each side. The wire mesh is used to create fasteners to attach one panel to another. The advantages are quick installation, and relatively low cost.
Building a Energy Smart Home Recipe: Insulation
There have been many improvements in insulation over the years. Pink fiberglass is rapidly being replaced with sprayed in closed cell insulation, and between the ceiling and roof, radiant barrier insulating techniques prove quite effective for keeping the attic cool in the summer, and locking in heat in winter.
Building a Energy Smart Home Recipe: Triple Glazed Windows
Triple glazed windows do cost more, but windows that are three panes thick create a powerful insulating barrier. However, double and triple glazed windows are no better than their installation. If gaps are left between the frame and the window, air leaks around the frame, and that makes those expensive windows ineffective. Also make sure your windows seal properly when closed, so that no air leaks around the moving parts or the metal sides.
Building a Energy Smart Home Recipe: Energy Efficient Appliances
While energy efficient appliances may cost a little more, the benefits are great over time. Keeping your total kilowatt usage down, keeps your power bill low, but it also increases your chances of using solar panels exclusively and avoiding your electric bill all together.
The savings on energy efficient homes will only increase over the years. Energy savings are important to your family, and to the country as a whole. Building a energy smart home is the best investment you can make to help your budget in the future.