Energy savings when building a new home is increasingly more important to people building a new home. With the price of electricity and fuels at all time highs and mortgage rates at all time lows, it is only sensible to weigh energy savings against just a little more on your mortgage payments. Even if some of the insulation and triple pane windows cost extra, that savings are well worth it. Plus it’s possible to save the money elsewhere in construction. Insulation is part of the structure of your home, and therefore more important than expensive floor coverings, or nicer wall paper. Floor coverings and wall paper come and go, over the life of a house, but the structure of your home should last well over a century.
There are many green home construction methods which involve non traditional energy efficient materials, which may cost less than the following, but for the purpose of comparison, let’s look at traditional construction and green energy savings.
Let’s look at some features and what they mean in dollars.
A level three energy efficient green home:
• Geo-thermal heat pump
• Six layer wall insulation (R-32.5)
• 2” x 6” lumber in walls
• Triple glazed windows
• Conditioned crawl space (R-19 fiberglass on foundation walls)
• 2” x 10” floor joists
• Radiant barrier roof
• Closed-cell sprayed ceiling insulation (3 layers – R-38)
• Heat pump water heater
Cost of electricity for heat and air can be as low as $30 per month. This will save the buyer $49,411 over a 30 year period.
Now Lets look at what you are paying on your mortgage. If you plan to finance your home with a 30 year mortgage at the current rate of between 3% and 4% your interest will equal the price of the construction, just as a typical rule of thumb even at these low rates, over the course of the mortgage you will pay twice the cost of the house, so if you plan a 30 year mortgage you should consider that everything you buy for your home costs twice as much as the price you are quoted. Even so, if all of the perks above cost only $25,000 more you are definitely coming out ahead financially.
Now consider if you have a 15 year loan you aren’t paying double for your home. You are only paying 33% to 35% more than the cost of your house, so if your potential savings are around $50,000 (just rounding off) then you could spend up to $33,000 more on energy saving construction materials and still obviously save money. Those are direct savings, meaning that you are choosing to pay for a better quality home, rather than a higher electric bill, but you are still paying exactly the same amount of money. The only difference is that you are choosing to pay your mortgage rather than a higher electric bill.
Now consider the other savings over the years. If you live in your home for more than 30 years you will enjoy the savings even after the mortgage, enabling you to retire without the worry of extreme electric bills. Plus the savings listed are at the current rates. Electricity costs will probably increase over the next 30 – 50 years, so your savings is even more extreme. You will also pass those savings on to future generations, and help the environment as well.
There is also a substantial difference in quality which you will notice as you live in your home. Building your home with 2”x 6” lumber filled with the most advanced insulation, rather than standard 2”x 4” lumber and minimal insulation, has tremendous benefits in structural integrity, soundproofing and comfort. As long as you live in your home those extra thick walls, extra heavy joists, and the strength of your roof, will protect your family from violent storms, falling trees, and other disasters better than the average tract house. Your insulation will block drafts on windy days, and keep your home warmer in winter, and cooler and summer, providing comfort as well as savings.
Energy saving construction is also durable construction. It produces a better home which saves a lot of money over time. You will also be paying for your home over a long period of time. Energy savings help you make the mortgage payment in a very real way, because you aren’t paying an enormous electric bill, plus your house payment. In the current economic environment, and looking forward over the years to come it only makes sense to consider energy savings when building a new home.