5 Ways to Build Energy Efficiency into a Home
When constructing a house, homeowners requesting specific energy efficient products for the building envelope can gain long-lasting energy savings. Energy Awareness Month in October serves as an important time for consumers and builders to research and select the most sensible, energy-efficient materials for home construction.
A home’s building envelope consists of the materials creating the “outer shell” of a structure. These generally consist of the foundation, walls, doors, windows and roof. According to building experts, consumers researching the selection of these materials can save every year on energy bills.
Step #1: Energy-Efficient Foundation
“Every home starts with a foundation so it’s critical to select a reliable one,” says Jim Costello, president of Superior Walls®. “Precast concrete foundations can help ward off heat loss plus provide more comfortable living space in the home. Constructed with 5” of interior insulation and reinforced with steel, Xi PlusTM foundations serve as the first step in constructing an ENERGY STAR® qualified home.”
The dependable Xi Plus foundations were recently used to launch two This Old House® projects in Rhode Island. According to Jeff Sweenor, builder for both homes, the Superior Walls system played an important role in the construction of the houses.
“The Superior Walls foundation in the THIS OLD HOUSE® 2018 IDEA HOUSE provides added living space for the future homeowners,” says Sweenor, president and CEO of Sweenor Builders. “In addition to a storage area, we’ve created a home theatre, gym and sauna room in the basement. As a bonus, the sturdy foundation is also extremely energy efficient.”
Step #2: Windows With Special Features
As the shell of a home goes up, there are many holes to fill — the most important being the windows. Selecting high-quality, low-maintenance windows that have exceptional features will pay off with years of comfort in the home and significant savings on energy bills.
When thinking about windows, consider not just their looks, but what special aspects they can bring to a home. Here’s a great example. During the past 20 years Harvey Classic vinyl acoustic window systems have been specified almost two dozen times as part of airport sound abatement projects across the country. More than 20,000 homes close to airports in cities such as Indianapolis, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Sarasota, Detroit and Cleveland have all had these windows installed.
“Harvey’s acoustic windows help make homes quieter, and at the same time help homeowners save on heating and cooling costs,” says Ken Howland, sales manager for Harvey Building Products. “These windows are ENERGY STAR qualified and independently tested to meet all sound abatement program performance issues.”
Why is energy efficiency so important for windows? According to the book, Fenestration in Buildings, a clear, single-pane glass reflects about 25 percent of the sun’s ultra-violet (UV) radiation away from the home, while insulating glass reflects up to 40 percent. Using Low-E coated glass provides additional protection, reflecting up to 74 percent. This reduces the penetration into a home of harmful rays without changing the overall vibrancy of the light gained inside the home.
Step #3: Privacy Windows for Special Areas
While clear glass windows generally dominate a house, there’s always room for privacy windows in key areas of the home. Fortunately Hy-Lite offers energy-efficient acrylic block awning and casement windows featuring E3 SunBlocks. This unique block limits solar heat gain through tinted UV inhibitors in the resin while also including an extra panel of acrylic in the center of each block for added energy efficiency.
“These easy-to-operate windows are ideal for bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms where homeowners don’t wish passersby to have a clear view into their home,” says Roger Murphy, president of Hy-Lite, a U.S. Block Windows Company. “The E3 SunBlock windows can help keep a room more comfortable during all types of exterior temperatures.
“With a U-value as low as .32 and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) as low as .19, these privacy windows easily complement the entire energy-efficient window package of a home.”
Step #4: Garage Doors
One of the largest openings in the building envelope — the garage door — should also be selected with energy efficiency in mind.
Manufactured in the USA, the 2000 Series garage doors from Haas Door have a calculated R-value of 17.66 and a full thermal break in the construction of the two-inch thick doors. This eliminates metal-to-metal-contact and limits the transfer of temperature.
Filled with dense CFC/HCFC-free polyurethane foam insulation, the garage doors are manufactured with heavy gauge galvanized steel that incorporates the look of embossed wood grain. Enhanced air infiltration seals in the section joints of the door restricting air movement to increase the energy efficiency of the garage door.
“This garage door combines function, beauty and energy savings to make it a perfect choice for energy efficiency,” says Jeffrey Nofziger, president of Haas Door. “Whether you live in Oklahoma, Florida or Delaware, this door is ready to take on the elements while providing solid energy savings.”
Step #5: Up on the Roof
At the top of the house, the decision to include a Cool Roof made of durable composite slate or shake can save homeowners years of maintenance hassles and energy expenses. These special roofs can actually help reflect sunlight and heat away from the home.
“By having Cool Roof tiles installed on a home, the surface of the roof temperature can be reduced,” says Michael Cobb, president chief marketing officer at DaVinci Roofscapes. “The composite Cool Roof tiles we manufacture help to significantly lower attic temperatures, resulting in lower energy bills. According to the Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR program, Cool Roofs can help reduce air conditioning costs by as much as 10 to 15 percent for a homeowner.”
These composite roofing tiles are rated independently by the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC). Several of DaVinci’s Cool Roof slate and shake roofing tiles have even earned the designation of ENERGY STAR qualified products and all of them are Title 24 compliant.
For more tips on building an energy-efficient home, which includes consideration of appliances and home electronics, insulation and air sealing, lighting, space heating and cooling, along with water heating, visit the http://www.energystar.gov website. Full checklists are available there for energy efficient home design and do-it-yourself home energy audits.