When it comes to building your next home, you’ve decided that achieving optimal energy-efficiency is a priority. You want a home that reflects all of your desires: energy-efficient, budget-friendly, stunningly designed.
If you have been considering the benefits of an energy efficient home, whether it’s to reduce (or eliminate) your utility costs or to have a positive impact on the environment, there are many reasons to make the switch. Yes, summers do seem to be getting hotter and lasting longer. The truth is everyone needs to do their part to minimize all forms of waste so that we can maximize everyone's standard of living and extend the livability of our planet. And one of the biggest impacts we can have on this important initiative, is to improve the efficiency of our homes, so by virtue of living your life every day, you can improve our environment and save money.
To that end, there are several features to consider and understand when designing a new energy efficient home for any climate.
ENERGY EFFICIENT HOME STYLES FOR MODERN TIMES
The most important features to incorporate into an energy efficient home include:
One of the best ways to improve the efficiency of energy consumption in the home is to reduce, even prevent, the exchange of indoor and outdoor air through porous walls and window seams. That's not to say that windows are never opened or that doors should always stay closed but, with an airtight home, it’s more efficient to circulate and heat or cool air from within the home because it is already closer to the desired indoor temperature compared to the outside. So, a leaky house continually dilutes the interior temperature of the home, which forces the HVAC system to work harder to condition the air. An added benefit can be to utilize an HVAC system with advanced air purification capabilities that continuously clean the air before reintroducing it to the living environment.
To achieve this, the home must have a near air-tight “building envelope,” that prevents temperature-regulated air from escaping the house and any outside heat or cold air from creeping in. It's this exchange that causes cooling and heating systems in a home to run inefficiently and, in turn, run up your energy bill. An uncompromised and continuous building envelope that is airtight, on the other hand, is one of the most important, and often poorly implemented aspects of building a new home. Here are some features to look for that indicate a home is properly protected from the energy-draining elements outside:
- Large, continuous structural sheathing, which eliminates connection gaps in the framing.
- All gaps in sheathing as well as any holes made by nails and screws are filled in.
- Double-paned, pressurized windows.
- Barriers around windows, doors, floors, and the roof joints are sealed at the right ambient temperature for curing.
- An air circulation and filtration system that draws and cleans the air, delivering purified air.
Hard-working and Healthy Insulation
Creating an airtight shell is one part of properly insulating a home, but the type of insulation that’s used, as well as how and where it's installed, are also extremely important to pay attention to. Traditional methods for insulating a home include the use of materials like fiberglass and foam that are either rolled into the space between studs or sprayed into walls. Unfortunately, these materials often contain toxic ingredients, like formaldehyde. They are also capable of retaining moisture, which can lead to mold and mildew growth, and they rarely consume all of the available space within the area to minimize the amount of air and, therefore, temperature variation. There are other options available, however, that do a better job of seamlessly insulating your home without risking your family's health or compromising insulating integrity. At minimum, consider requiring:
- Mineral insulation is a new, highly efficient and environmentally friendly insulating material that’s created from recycled rocks (originally mined for other products) and that is produced without chemicals considered dangerous to human beings and the environment. This material doesn’t retain moisture, and it has to be cut and fit into place, ensuring that the maximum amount of available space within an area is occupied by insulation and not air.
- For maximum efficiency, insulation should cover all 6-sides of the entire house.
- Interior wall insulation should also be installed throughout the house and under floors so individual room temperatures can be efficiently maintained without having to condition the entire house. Having the ability to target specific living space with heating and cooling is another way to manage efficiency.
Employ Solar Power with Battery Back Up
The cornerstone of a truly modern efficient home is the use of solar. When solar power is utilized in conjunction with other home efficiency optimizers like an air-tight building envelope and mineral wool insulation, the home is able to utilize solar power with a battery back-up so efficiently that it can be grid independent and/or contribute a significant amount of energy back into the grid, making the home a net positive energy source. Another key advantage to adding solar into the plans of the home before it’s built is that the installation is less problematic. Installing solar on homes later is more expensive and potentially risky when installing on the roof due to leak potential if the mounts pierce the roofing seal, which happens quite often.
- Solar panels can be combined with batteries that collect and store any unused energy produced during the day for use at peak power times later.
- The combination of energy efficient home design with solar makes grid independence easily achievable and a net positive energy source.
Admittedly, finding an existing energy efficient style of home that incorporates each of these features is not easy. It can be even harder to locate one that looks as sophisticated as its energy-efficient systems are designed to run. You could solve this problem by building a home from the ground up with everything you want and that the environment needs, grassroots-style. But, traditional stick builds can run long and over budget. They'll stretch your patience thin, too.
DVELE HOMES INCLUDE ALL THESE ENERGY EFFICIENT FEATURES
When we founded Dvele, we did so with the intent of making the highest quality homes in the world that are capable of having a meaningfully positive impact on the health and well-being of our clients and the environment. And because we build our homes in a factory, we can produce them faster and much more reliably compared to traditional homes, which are subject to weather and labor delays.
If living in a new, modern, healthy and energy efficient home is a dream of yours, we can make that happen.
Ready for an energy efficient home? If so, please take some time to review our homes and feel free to Customize Your Home to see all the possibilities. If you have questions, contact us to speak with an experienced Dvele Project Manager.
Building a home is a big expenditure, so it’s natural to wonder if a modular home represents a good investment. In terms of a home's market value, there's nothing inherently different about a modular home that would cause it to appreciate or depreciate differently than a traditionally built home.