How To Build An Energy Efficient Home

New home construction allows you to make the home energy-efficient, which reduces your environmental footprint and your ongoing energy costs. From the basic to the major, here are several steps that you can use to make a new construction home energy efficient.


1. Upgrade to LED Light Bulbs


LED light bulbs are much more energy-efficient than traditional halogen bulbs, and they use significantly less energy than newer halogen bulbs. They also last longer, thus providing savings on both electricity and bulb replacement costs.

You can expect to cut lights’ electricity usage by 75 percent if you install LED lights throughout the house. Although lights don’t use as much energy as other appliances, this can add up to a substantial energy reduction since lights are on for long periods each day.


2. Install Low-Flow Plumbing Fixtures


Low-flow plumbing fixtures restrict water usage while still offering good performance. Low-flow showerheads and faucets will still generate good water pressure; sometimes even better than traditional fixtures. Low-flow toilets are designed to provide good water pressure so that they flush well.


Low-flow faucets can save the average household approximately 700 gallons of water per year, which is the equivalent of about 45 showers. These fixtures don’t necessarily last longer, but the water savings add up as you live in the house for years. For the best water savings, look for fixtures that feature the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense label.


3. Invest in ENERGY STAR Appliances


ENERGY STAR is the EPA’s energy-efficient certification program for appliances and light bulbs. Compared to standard new appliances, ENERGY STAR models use 10 to 50 percent less energy. The exact savings depends on the specific certified model and comparison model.


Considering how energy-intensive appliances are, even a moderate reduction in usage can have a big impact. The impact can be especially significant if you use an appliance frequently (e.g. running the washing machine on a daily basis).


4. Choose an On-Demand Hot Water Heater


To further improve your home’s plumbing, choose an on-demand hot water heater over a traditional one. Whereas traditional water heaters have a tank that they constantly keep warm, on-demand models heat water only as it's used.


An on-demand hot water heater will lower water-related energy usage by 24 to 34 percent in an average home that uses 41 gallons of hot water each day. Homes that use more can see additional savings of 8 to 14 percent.


As an added benefit, on-demand water heaters provide a continuous supply of hot water that doesn’t end. You’ll still be saving energy even if you take long, hot showers.


5. Stay Current With a Smart Thermostat


Smart devices are becoming more popular, and they provide great convenience. Smart thermostats also help save energy, as you can control the house’s temperature remotely at all times. Turn the heat or air conditioning up just before you get home and lower the temperature at night when you’re sleeping.


How much energy a smart thermostat will save depends on how often you change the temperature setting and your HVAC system’s efficiency. A thermostat is inexpensive to install,, and it’s a simple way to improve your home.


6. Select a High-Efficiency HVAC System


To greatly reduce your heating and cooling energy costs, select a high-efficiency HVAC system. The EPA uses the Energy Star program for HVAC systems, and any Energy Star-certified model will provide savings every time you turn on the heat or air conditioning. Assuming you use one of the two for most of the year, this accumulates to a lot of savings because HVAC systems are so energy-intensive.


7. Go With Double or Triple-Pane Windows


Most windows installed in new homes are double or triple-pane, although some budget homes might still be built with single-pane. The air gaps between double and triple-pane windows help insulate against temperature transfer, thus lessening how much your HVAC system must work.


Windows account for 25 to 30 percent of residential homes’ heat gain and loss. You won’t completely eliminate heat transfer, but insulated double or triple-pane windows can help lower the loss. If you have limited resources, this is one of the best places to invest because of how much heat transfers through windows.


8. Upgrade to High R-value Insulation


Insulation’s effectiveness is rated as an R-value; the higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation. Upgrading to higher R-value insulation can have profound effects on how much heat is gained or lost throughout the home.


The insulation in your home can have different R-values depending on where it’s located. For example, floors don’t need as much insulation as attic ceilings. The R-value you look for is also dependent on where you live. Homes in the Northern United States should have higher R-values to protect against cold winters than homes in the South. The EPA has a helpful chart showing recommended R-values, or your builder can discuss options with you.


Make Your New Home Energy-Efficient


If you have your new home built so that it's energy-efficient, you’ll reap the benefits every time you turn on a light, use water, run an appliance or adjust the thermostat.


Watson Homes Inc.

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