Home Energy Chronicles

Most home designers and architects are up to date on energy conservation techniques, however they are also geared to meeting their customers needs and priorities for their home designs. find more info Many consumers will consider home energy management almost as an after thought when it is too late to incorporate energy savings concepts into their new home design. As you and your home designer or architect discuss your plans and your objectives for your new home, always emphasize that energy management and home comfort are a very important element of the final design that your are looking for.

Designing a new home actually begins with site selection and orientation of your home on the property. Depending on the climate consumers will want to orient their homes on the property to manage the amount of solar heating that the house will be exposed to. A common theme throughout this report is to orient your home so that the sun can heat the home naturally in the winter, while minimizing the effects of solar heating during hot summer days. Adding trees or shrubs to provide shade and taking advantage of natural land formations to provide shelter from prevailing winds is the first step in managing your energy costs.

Construction of the foundation for homes varies a great deal across the continent. In some locales a below grade basement is mandatory, while in other locations a concrete slab is standard. In both situations, insulation is a key component to maintain comfortable living conditions while reducing your energy costs. Insulation can be added below the slab of concrete and all basement walls should be properly sealed and insulated to at least R20 levels. All exposed hot water pipes can be insulated as well in addition.

Walls should be insulated to at least R20, while attics should have insulation to a level of R40. Floors over crawl spaces will be warmer and you will lose less energy if the floors are also insulated. Many customers will select wall to wall carpeting for additional insulation and warmth, however if you prefer ceramic, marble or hardwood floors, area rugs can be used as decoration as well as providing a warm surface to walk on. Ceiling fans are another inexpensive way to distribute naturally heated air.

Consumers can select windows and doors that are energy rated with triple pane windows and insulated steel doors. Adding a storm door to the outside increases the level of insulating and energy savings that you can achieve. During the winter consumers will enjoy the warmth of the suns ray’s through the windows, while summer months the windows can be covered to reduce the heating affects of the sun. Selection of window coverings, while meeting aesthetic requirements can also support energy saving concepts as well.

The selection of lighting fixtures with fluorescent lighting and also taking into account natural lighting can reduce your lighting costs significantly. Incorporate timers, motion detectors, photo cells at appropriate locations in your home to assist in managing your lighting needs as well as energy usage. Bathroom design as well as all areas were water is used should incorporate flow restrictors to minimize the use of cold and hot water.

Everyone loves to have a fireplace in their home. A fireplace can generate a huge loss of energy if not managed properly and designed with energy conservation in mind. Natural wood burning fireplaces have the lowest efficiency, while sealed gas fireplaces can be very efficient, while still providing the ambiance that many consumers are looking for.

The selection and use of your appliances can have a significant impact on your energy costs. Old appliances may be energy guzzlers, while new appliances should be chosen based on their energy ratings. Selecting a high efficiency furnace, air conditioner and water heater is a first step. Consider purchasing new appliances instead of moving your appliances from your last home. Electronic ignition of gas appliances, taking advantage of shade for your air conditioner and using a digital thermostat that allows timed control of your homes interior temperature are all elements of the energy design of your home.

One final comment about new home design is in order. Consumers may also want to arrange for an energy audit of their home before they agree to the final design. Suggestions by an expert quite often will pay for the cost of the audit in terms of energy savings.

Energy Conservation – A Way of Life
Consumers who go to the time and expense of designing and building an energy efficient home may be disappointed with the savings that they obtain if they do not practice energy conservation in their daily lives. For example, you may have paid for a well insulated home, sealed all the cracks, used caulking were you were supposed to and installed the best windows and doors. If you then leave windows open, forget to turn down the thermostat on cold winter days when you are not at home or turn up the thermostat on hot days, you may not achieve the savings that you were expecting. Leaving lights on, running appliances with partial loads e.g. the dishwasher etc can also increase your energy consumption beyond what you may have been expecting.

Our home energy checklist covers many items that home owners can consider as a means of taking advantage of all of the energy efficient attributes of their home to reduce their energy consumption even further. Making this approach part of your lifestyle will ensure that your energy savings continue after you have moved in to your new home and lived there for sometime.

Many people are also concerned about the impact of conserving energy on their comfort and may be afraid to implement some energy saving concepts. We would like to politely point out that replacing an incandescent light with a fluorescent light will not only save you energy, but provide you with a more comfortable light in your home as well. Filling up the dishwasher or the clothes washer before running them takes no additional effort on your part and saves you energy usage at the same time. There are many examples such as these that will reduce your energy consumption and not impact your comfort. In fact plugging leaks and designing ceiling fans into the home can positively improve the aesthetics as well as reduce drafts.