As a modern homebuyer, you have more opportunities than ever to lower your carbon footprint and to get a home that is energy-efficient and less expensive to run. Today's homebuilders have numerous tools at their disposal for creating sustainable, green homes without adding significantly to the cost. "Look for a homebuilder that prominently displays the homes’ energy-saving features so that you can be sure they are committed to building in such a way," warns Darren Patton of Inland Empire Solar. "For example, Tampa builder Homes By Westbay provides energy-saving features for their homes in each community’s profile." Below are some of the energy-saving features that you should be looking for when shopping for a new home.
According to Tasha Cohen of Solar Panels Boise, "Windows that allow air infiltration are one of the main reasons that your home will lose heat in the winter and gain it in the summer. These windows will cause your heating to work harder in the winter and your air conditioner to work harder in the summer. Higher energy use from less efficient windows will result in higher costs. Your options for energy saving windows include those with low emissivity (low-e) coatings along with insulated windows. Low-e windows have a thin metallic oxide coating on the glazing that helps to lower the amount of UV and infrared light that can pass through glass. The result is that heat from inside your home is prevented from escaping during the winter and heat from outside cannot get in during the summer. Insulated windows have multiple panes of glass with an insulating pocket of air sandwiched between them. The air between the panes helps to prevent heat transfer."
In a hot, muggy climate, having the right kind of insulation in your ceiling, walls and floors can help to prevent heat transfer. Foam-filled concrete blocks used for foundations and other structural elements are a good choice. Along with those, wall insulation with an R-value 13 is recommended for your exterior walls. Air infiltration barriers between the framing and drywall are another feature that can make a home less expensive to keep comfortable. A new home should also have insulation over the conditioned spaces; the insulation for these areas should have an R-value of 38. Radiant barriers are insulation systems that reflect heat away from your home's interior, thus preventing heat transfer. Radiant barrier roof sheathing can, therefore, help to keep living spaces comfortable.
Low-Energy HVAC Equipment
To save money on cooling your home, you will need energy-efficient HVAC equipment. This constitutes a unit with a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) of at least 13. SEER 13 air conditioners provide a 30-percent increase in efficiency when compared to older SEER 10 units. A programmable thermostat is also recommended, as this will allow you to control the temperature of your living space whether you are at home or away. Additionally, ductwork that is sealed with mastic and metal-backed tape can greatly improve indoor comfort as well as energy-efficiency.
Any claim that a newly constructed home is energy efficient should be backed up with third party inspections and testing. Homes that are designed to be energy efficient should be designed and built for local conditions with builders choosing the most appropriate energy efficient features. Tests that should be conducted include a blower door test to measure air leakage in the house, as well as a duct blaster test to determine whether air ducts are properly sealed.
While the location of a home and its size are important factors for every homebuyer, it is also important to purchase an economically sustainable home. Choosing energy-efficient Energy Star certified homes can provide you with a home that is both enjoyable and environmentally friendly.