If you don’t have plans for going out this weekend, you’re not alone. Recently published studies show that American homeowners are spending more time than ever at home.
“Americans spent nearly eight more days at home in 2012 compared to 2003, and even when we allow for displaced energy consumption – such as the electricity required to run server farms – they consumed less energy.”
While it’s great news that we’re not currently using more energy to run our homes, the study also “raises important concerns about making home energy use more efficient.” If American’s time at home continues to rise, home efficiency will need to as well.
It’s up to architects, designers, builders and contractors to continue to step up to this challenge. When we build better homes designed for energy-efficiency, we create a space that the end-user can be proud to call home.
The Benefits of Designing Energy-Saving Homes
Your clients want a higher-performing home that consumes less energy. And that’s not (entirely) just because of what’s trending online and on HGTV.
Energy-saving appliances can also earn homeowners tax credits and rebates. Even just installing more energy-efficient windows throughout a home will reduce utility costs for homeowners, sometimes in the hundreds of dollars.
Supporting the Green Lifestyle
The green building market grew in 2013 to $260 billion, and that trend is expected to grow even more in coming years. “Green living” isn’t just a fad, and homeowners want the spaces they live in to reflect the same eco-friendly lifestyle that they aspire to.
Energy-efficiency can improve our health, too.
Most humans spend a lot of time indoors, whether we’re at work, in a restaurant, or at home.
But this indoor behavior doesn’t lend itself to better health. In fact, the air that we breathe in our homes can put us at risk for an array of health problems, because of the pollutants coming from materials and systems in the house.
Building an energy-efficient home can also meet higher standards for indoor air quality. Better ventilation systems, environmentally-safe building materials, and proper insulation ensure that the home performs better and promotes cleaner air.
Energy-efficient homes offer more comfortable environments for the people inside, but can also offer a bigger payback if they put their house on the market.
Several studies support the fact that resale value on energy-efficient homes is just better. In Portland, “efficiency-labeled homes sold for 30% more than non-labeled homes in 2011.”
Strategies for Building Energy-Efficient Homes
Builders can help homeowners optimize their homes for energy-efficiency, and it might help to talk through the areas of the home that are key.
Location and Orientation
Builders can ensure energy-efficiency by designing and orienting a home to take advantage of the sun’s position throughout the day.
-The morning sun will be dominant in east-facing rooms.
-Early evening sunlight will come from the west at lower angles.
-North rooms will have the least amount of natural light.
Building a home that performs at its highest potential is a bit of a balancing act. Each of the home’s systems play a role in that performance, but it starts with the building envelope. The external walls, windows, roof, and floor all need to work together to provide continuous insulation and protection from outside elements.
ICF construction meets this demand for a high-performing building envelope, providing the ultimate in comfort and security with a system that is both resilient and energy-efficient. The interlocking blocks of an ICF wall have two layers of continuous insulation, filled with concrete, enabling an airtight, high-performing wall assembly. If you’re looking for a building envelope that resists moisture and can stand up to hurricanes, ICF offers homeowners a great solution.
Energy-Efficient Appliances and Systems
Homeowners have a growing number of options when it comes to energy-saving appliances, along with smarter technology for the systems that help run the home.
Install thermostats that regulate the home’s temperature during specific times of the day. Some programmable systems even connect to mobile apps, so homeowners can control settings even when they’re not at home.
Certified energy-efficient products
ENERGY STAR is a government-backed program that offers consumers guidelines for more energy-efficient systems and products. There’s an entire menu of ENERGY STAR-rated products on their site, from refrigerators to windows to light bulbs.
Photovoltaic devices are becoming increasingly available to homeowners to help power their homes, heat water, and save on additional energy costs. The U.S. has a wealth of solar energy available so taking advantage of this resource can not only save homeowners money but also make their home more eco friendly.
Meeting Future Demand
The demand for energy-efficient homes is only going to increase in coming years. It only helps those of us in the industry to stay ahead of what homeowners want so we can build the home they’re looking for.
Building homes designed for energy-efficiency means we have higher-performing spaces, and in the end, happier homeowners.