Everywhere you look, there seems to be another lot surrounded by yellow fencing with contractors busily working on their latest custom home. While this may seem wasteful, custom homes offer the opportunity to bring energy efficiency into more local neighbourhoods – and that can have a lasting positive impact for communities everywhere.
Energy efficiency is not a new buzz work in custom home building, but it has been gaining a lot of traction, as homeowners look to reduce their energy consumption, save money, and decrease their carbon footprint.
So how are custom home builders delivering affordable, energy-efficient homes? It’s not as complicated as you may think. Here are several ways that you can choose to build a greener home without breaking the bank.
Consider the Structure’s Orientation
Energy-efficient custom homes building starts long before ground is broken on a project. Smart homes start with intelligent design, and where and how you choose to situate your home can play a huge role in your eventual energy consumption.
If your lot allows it, position your home to take advantage of natural sunlight, without directly facing southwest, to reduce your lighting, heating, and cooling costs all year round.
In Vancouver, south-facing orientation allows you to gain maximum sunlight in the winter and the ability to block out sunlight in the summer. The main living areas, typically the kitchen or living room, should be positioned to close in the areas that will experience the most natural sunlight – not only will this be the most efficient design, but it will also give a great view.
Super-Seal Your Building’s Envelope
The exterior of your home is called the building envelope, and ensuring it is tightly sealed from air, moisture, and harsh weather is a crucial part of achieving better energy efficiency. The ultimate goal is to form as close to an airtight protective barrier as possible.
The building envelope helps to regulate interior temperatures while reducing the burden on your home heating and cooling system. A well-sealed envelope will keep your home warm during the winter and cool throughout the summer – which is good for both the environment and your wallet.
Use More Insulation
Say goodbye to builder grade; when it comes to home insulation and energy efficiency, quality and quantity matter.
Insulation comes in many different types, with wide-ranging R-values; the higher the R-value, the better the performance. Combined with a tightly sealed building envelope, a well-insulated home helps to stabilize temperature within your home year-round.
By this point, the costs of building an energy-efficient custom home in Vancouver may be adding up in your head., so it’s worth noting that closing off any gaps in your structure and doubling down on insulation can help you save hundreds of dollars per year on your energy costs.
Install High-Efficiency Windows and Doors
You can probably see the trend on how sealing your home improves its energy efficiency, even in relatively mild climates like here in Vancouver. You can also add highly insulated windows and doors to the list.
Less efficient windows and poor installation are massive energy suckers and could be one of the largest factors contributing to your energy costs, after insulation and your building envelope. With the climate being relatively mild in BC, there has been a general acceptance of lower-rated windows and doors, but that’s a mistake.
When shopping for windows, look for Energy Star Certified products; they will cost you more upfront, but with a life expectancy of around 30 years, they will contribute to your home’s energy efficiency for many years to come. To make the most out of the available sunlight, organize your home’s layout to incorporate as many windows as possible where your home gets the most sunlight.
Incorporate Smart Technologies
No one is perfect. Who hasn’t forgotten to lower the heat or turn off all the lights before leaving the house?
But with today’s technology, you control your entire home, from temperature to lighting, at the touch of a button or verbal command. Automated assistants can even ensure that you never need to worry about leaving your heating, cooling, and lights on when you’re not home ever again. Going with a custom build is the perfect opportunity to incorporate smart technology into your home that will not only improve your energy efficiency, but will also make your life easier – it’s a win-win.
Choose Energy Efficient Fixtures and Appliances
Not all energy efficiency is achieved during the construction of your custom home; what you put inside it matters too. When shopping for fixtures and appliances, look for energy-efficient options.
LED lightening can greatly reduce your energy consumption and save money with bulb replacement costs – an energy-efficient LED light can last up to 50,000 hours which 20 to 50 times longer than other lighting options.
Using energy-efficient appliances throughout your home can reduce your energy consumption, lower your carbon footprint, and save you money. Look for Energy Star Certification, where possible, to ensure you are truly getting the most efficient appliances available.