Five Energy Savers You Have To Build Into Your New Home

You’re building a new home and you want it to be energy efficient, cheap to operate.  Getting there can be confusing because vendors are trying to sell you everything from solar panels to geothermal heat pumps.  And that stuff is not cheap.  But building a tight house can be easy if you concentrate on the following five areas.

House air conditionerView in gallery

Insulation:  There are three basic types—batt, cellulose and foam.  Batt is the Pink Panther insulation stuffed in between the studs and joists and it is the cheapest.  It is also the least efficient because of gaps and is often badly installed.  Cellulose is basically shredded paper treated with boric acid.  It is blown in the ceiling and the walls wet.  The final type is foam and the most expensive.  Each type has advocates and detractors.  After a lot of research we went with cellulose.  The cost quotes worked out like this for our house–$8,500 for batt, $11,000 for cellulose and $15,500 for foam.  We are very happy with the cellulose.

House air conditionerView in gallery

Windows:  The thing you need to know here is LoE, or low emissivity.  Don’t ask about the details, it is all science.  Just make sure your windows are rated LoE and this can be found on the energy label.  Go for quality but don’t go overboard.

Doors:  Same as windows.

House air conditionerView in gallery

Heating and Cooling:  One of the major expenditures for your new home will be the HVAC units.  Use common sense and do some research.  In Texas we have real heat so the SEER rating on the air conditioner has to be good.  Good but not necessarily the very best.  A SEER factor of 13 will do.  You can do more but my analysis showed for each one-point increase, say 13 to 14, in the SEER rating I was going to pay about $1,000 and get savings of only about $70 per year on that investment.  That is a payback of over fourteen years and I have better uses for my money so a SEER of 13 worked great.  My highest monthly electric bill for a 4,400 square foot house was $235.  That is efficient.

Plan:  Do some common sense planning like bedroom placement.  If all your bedrooms are upstairs, get two HVAC units—one for upstairs and one for downstairs.  Place your windows where they get less sun.  Ask your architect or house planner for help with this.  You can do it before you build but not after.

The key to energy savings is planning and investing in good, but not necessarily the best, materials and components.Solar may be the future but windows, door, insulation and efficient HVAC units are the present solutions to today’s high-energy bills.{picutre sources:1,2,3}.