Everyone, including architects and reputable construction contractors, put a lot of effort into decreasing energy consumption due to the current conditions of our world. Suppose you want to build energy-efficient homes or zero energy buildings known as green homes. In that case, you should follow 13 simple and integrated steps that utilize standard and commonly available construction materials and equipment along with straightforward building strategies. By following these steps, you can build affordable and energy-efficient homes.
Build Energy-Efficient Homes with Smart Design
Building energy-efficient homes start with intelligent design. Architects, designers, building contractors, and even home buyers should know almost all the energy-efficient stages involved in constructing a green home. Thus, these homes must be designed to allow builders and contractors to apply these stages as cost-effectively as possible. There are various parameters in designing a building that architects need to consider. Clear communication between the home builder and the architects will ensure all the critical details will be done precisely. These stages include:
- Site Selection to Building Energy-Efficient Homes
- Building Orientation
- Climate Considerations
- The Shape of the Building
- Thermal Boundary of the Energy-Efficient Building
- Roof Overhangs
- Building Cladding System
- R-Values of the Facility
- Thermal Bridging
- Perfect Insulations
- Ari Sealing System
- Air Barriers
- Heating and Cooling Equipment
- Water Heater
- Solar Energy Systems
- Engage the Building Team
Choose Energy-Efficient Cladding Systems for Your Green Home
The cladding system you choose for your project plays a vital role in the energy efficiency of your facility. If you want to build energy-efficient homes, you will have to select and buy cladding systems that can keep the heat inside during cold seasons and maintain the cool air inside during warm seasons. One of the best materials with excellent insulating characteristics is an Aluminum Composite Panel.
Aluminum composite panels are popular lightweight materials due to their various advantages. One of the best characteristics of these metal cladding systems is their energy efficiency. Thus, using ACM panels as the cladding system is highly recommended if you want to build energy-efficient homes. Additionally, other materials are also cost-effective and energy-efficient, including:
- Fiber Cement
- Aluminum Siding
- Stucco Siding
- Vinyl Cladding Panels
Solar Tempering with Sun
Sun is a natural source of light and also warmth. Thus, if you want to build energy-efficient homes, you can utilize the sun for heating through south-facing windows during cold seasons, decreasing heating costs.
Moreover, adding shades to those same windows will lower the cooling cost during warm seasons.
Solar tempering is a method that aims to optimize the passive usage of the sun’s heat. This method does not incur the additional cost of thermal mass required to achieve maximum passive solar heating. As told, this particular stage is addressed in the design phase.
Build Energy-Efficient Homes with Modeling Optimization
You should consider and estimate the energy use during the designing phase if you want to build energy-efficient homes. This stage is possible by using energy modeling software such as “design-builder” to ensure that the goal of the energy-efficient building can be achieved while decreasing the overall cost.
Depending on the model results, design and material choices can be modified to balance energy-efficient homes’ performance and construction costs.
Seal the Building Efficiently
The most cost-effective measure builders can take to build energy-efficient homes is super-sealing. Contractors and builders offer various options and air-sealing approaches that you can choose according to your climate, budget, and requirements.
However, we recommend you consult with an experienced architect or designer and ask for help choosing the approach.
Super-Sealing Methods to Build Energy-Efficient Homes
- Setting an Air Tightness Goal
- Sealing the Exterior Wall Cladding System with Suitable Sealants
- Sealing the Inner Wall System
Materials that are Used for Super-Sealing
For sealing your home efficiently, builders utilize some essential tools and materials. Some of these tools include:
- Solid Backing and Blocking
- Sealant Glue
- Eco Seal
- Duct Mastic
- Aero Barrier
Build Energy-Efficient Homes with Super-Insulation Method
After builders make your house airtight with the super-sealing method, they will have to super-insulate the facility. Super-insulation is the second cost-effective solution for creating green homes.
Optimization modeling can help you optimize the levels for insulations used in the ceilings, claddings, and floorings. However, it is essential to select a framing strategy that will make it easier for builders to insulate their building’s envelope and minimize the thermal bridging.
Here are the critical factors to consider to build energy-efficient homes with the super-insulation method:
- Climate and R-Value (Combined)
- Advanced Framing
- High-Performance Cladding System (such as ACM Panels)
- Assembly Insulation R-Values Comparison
- Highly Insulated Roof or Ceiling
- Blown-In Insulation System
- Closed-Cell Spray Foam
- Using Rigid Foam Board
- Flow Insulations
- Insulation of HRV/ERV Ducts
- Minimizing Thermal Bridging
Building Energy-Efficient Homes with Highly Insulated Doors and Windows
Doors and windows are the big energy holes for all homes, even in well-insulated and air-tightened buildings. Using highly insulated doors and windows is the third most cost-effective solution to build energy-efficient homes.
If you manage to control the heat loss caused by doors and windows, you will save energy. However, after choosing the suitable material, you should locate them carefully and optimize their size and orientation for better insulations.
You should consider the following list when selecting windows and doors:
- Low U-Value Windows
- Window Sizes
- Natural Ventilation
- Fixed and Operable Windows
- Optimizing WFA (Windows to Floor Area)
- Windows and Doors Orientation
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient
- Shading for Windows and Doors
- Insulated Shades
Create Fresh Air Supply with Energy-Efficient Systems
Since zero energy houses or green homes are airtight, they must have a continuous source of fresh filtered air and moisture or humidity control. This feature of energy-efficient homes makes them healthier and more comfortable than typical buildings.
For this purpose, builders can use highly energy-efficient ventilation systems known as HRV (heat recovery ventilation) or ERV (energy recovery ventilation) systems that expel stale air while recovering the head and return it to the home’s interior with fresh air.
For efficient fresh air supply, here are some of the essential factors to consider:
- Minimizing Indoor Pollution Sources
- Automated and Controlled Ventilation
- Managing Moisture
- Replacing Exhaust Fans
- Filtering the Air
Choose an Energy-Efficient Cooling and Heating System
Another crucial solution for building energy-efficient homes is using highly-efficient, cost-effective cooling and heating systems. One of the best choices is the air source ductless heat pump, which is also known as a mini-split heat pump.
These mini-split heat pump systems are highly energy-efficient and do not have the shortcomings of forced and central air or the high costs of thermal heat pumps.
However, since cold and warm climates require different systems of different sizes, it is better to ask for help from professional engineers, architects, or even building contractors.
Heat Water Precisely and Wisely
After heating and cooling systems, the most significant energy and utility expenses in a home are because of water heating. Thus, builders and designers must select and locate energy-efficient water heating technologies and other crucial measures.
If you want to build energy-efficient homes, you should take into account the following list of solutions:
- Minimize the Hot Water Usage in Your Home
- Utilize Solar Water Heating System
- Use Heat Pump Water Heaters
- Utilize Energy-Efficient Electric Resistance Water Heaters
- Locate the Heater Close to the Water Consumption Areas
Build Energy-Efficient Homes with Lightings
Optimizing lighting systems for residents and minimizing energy usage is crucial to building energy-efficient homes. LED lightings are one of the best solutions for lighting, which is incredibly energy-efficient.
LED lighting systems are better than CFLs since they can last many years longer and do not contain mercury, a toxic substance. Additionally, they can fulfill various lighting requirements, from very bright white light to warm and soft yellowish light.
Selecting and buying suitable LED lights, locating them appropriately, and using natural lights as efficiently as possible can reduce your home’s energy usage and utility bill costs.
Select Appliances and Electronics that are Energy-Efficient
Since green homes feature highly efficient shells and utilize high-efficiency HVAC and water heating systems, electronics and appliances become the most significant energy consumption and expenditure source in your homes.
So, selecting efficient appliances and electronics becomes the final stage required to build energy-efficient homes.
Selecting energy-efficient equipment mentioned in the list below will help you improve your home’s efficiency:
- Induction Stove Tops
- Microwave Ovens
- High RPM Washer with Cold Water
- Clothes Dryer
- Heat Pump Dryer
- Other Electronics such as TV, Iron, etc.
Build Energy-Efficient Homes with Renewable Energy
One additional step you can take to build energy-efficient homes is using PV panels or solar panels. The grid-tied solar photovoltaic panels provide the most cost-effective form of renewable energy for green homes. They will provide all the energy your house needs for heating, cooling, lighting, appliances, and hot water.
However, you should know that PV solar panels are the most expensive components of an energy-efficient home.