SITE – Make the most of your site’s natural features, considering sun and wind. Especially in cold climates, plan a good amount of southern exposure, since the south side receives almost three times the sunlight as other sides. Minimize glass on the north, east and west, but remember to let in some light to balance. Deciduous trees on the south block hot summer sun, but are leafless in the winter to let the sunshine in. In hot climates, shield the house from effects of direct sunlight, both for comfort and for air-conditioning efficiency. Overhangs, porches, shade trees and windows in the path of air flows can help prevent overheating in the summer.
DESIGN – The less space you have to heat, the better. Determine exactly how much space your family requires. Then arrange rooms in relation to the sun, light and heat where you need them most: the breakfast nook in early morning, the kitchen throughout the day, and the family room during the late afternoon. Consider locating sleeping and working areas to the north, where cooler temperatures are preferred. A kitchen will generate its own heat. If at all possible, avoid placing an entry to the north, or at least keep cold air from entering with an air-lock entry.
MATERIALS & TECHNOLOGY – Fifty to seventy percent of the energy used in the average American home is for heating and cooling. The use of energy-saving materials is essential if you want to substantially reduce energy costs.
The crucial role of thermal insulation:
Insulation not only saves money, it can make your home more comfortable. Insulation helps maintain a uniform temperature throughout the house. Walls, ceilings and floors will be warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Fewer drafts mean your home will remain comfortable at lower thermostat settings. Thermal insulation also acts as a sound barrier keeping noise levels down.
The insulating ability of the components of a home, whether in the roof, walls, windows or doors, is most often measured in terms of R-value, or the resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.
Tyvek® house wrap improves energy efficiency:
Tyvek® acts as a windbreaker over insulation to help stop drafts and prevent air movement in the insulation cavity, thereby protecting R-value. Air movement can account for 30-40% of a home’s total heating or cooling loss. Tyvek® is placed on the exterior or cold side of the insulation, over the sheathing. A vapor barrier – heavy polyethylene sheathing – is placed on the interior or warm side of the insulation. Equally important, it keeps moisture away from the insulation, which would destroy its R-value.
Low-E insulated windows
Low-E glass uses a hidden metallic coating and Argon-filled cavity to provide maximum energy efficiency. It allows sunlight to enter and heat your home. But when the heat tries to escape, the coating reflects it back into the room. As much as 90% of the radiated heat is retained, reducing heat loss up to 50%. In summer or in hot climates, the reverse is true: Low-E blocks the heat from entering the home.
Insulated entrance doors
Your best choice is an insulated door with a high R-Value. Pre-hung insulated door systems come complete with weather for a tight fit with no gaps to waste energy. Choose an insulated door for your garage if it doubles as a winter workshop or is attached to your home.
How Homes Become Green
- Look to more durable roof coverings such as integrate asphalt shingles, standing-seam metal roofing, slate or concrete tiles and solar roofing products, steel and fiber cement to reduce the frequency of roof replacement.
- Energy efficient windows incorporating advanced technologies like Insul lowE2 Argon Gas glazing, warm wood interiors and maintenance free exteriors with heavy-duty extruded aluminum cladding to keep heat inside in the winter & outside in the summer.
- Wood is the only building product that is renewable, biodegradable, recyclable, energy efficient and naturally beautiful. Logs and other basic wood building components generate the least amount of air & water pollution, green house gases and solid waste.
- Increasing the amount and R-value of insulation is a cost-effective way to save energy and help reduce heating and cooling bills, which account for at least half of the energy use in the home. Sprayed insulation made from foam, cellulose or wool and reflective foil are alternative to glass fiber batting.
- Incorporating passive solar design features like large south-facing windows helps heat the home in the winter and allows for more natural daylight.
- Foundation walls should be insulated, as well as the main level walls, for efficient energy use and enhanced comfort, particularly if it is used for living space.
- Factory-built components including trusses and pre-hung doors allow for more efficient use of raw materials, and reduce job site waste.
- Recycled plastic lumber and wood composite materials reduce reliance on chemically treated lumber for decks and porches. Stamped & dyed concrete is another alternative to treated lumber.
- Proper sized overhangs and porches over the exterior doors help to prevent water intrusion, reducing maintenance and enhancing durability.
- Oriented strand board (OSB) is an engineered wood product that doesn’t demand older-growth forest like plywood. OSB can be created from small-diameter trees.
- In addition to natural wood, flooring choices include low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) carpet for better indoor air quality. Also consider laminates and linoleum.
- Select energy efficient, properly sized heating and cooling and water heating equipment to save energy.
- The energy efficiency of refrigerators and freezers has tripled over the last three decades because they have more insulation, advanced compressors, better door seals and temperature controls. Front-loading washers use about 40% less water and half the energy of conventional styles.
- New toilets have re-designed bowls and tanks that use less water, but function more efficiently than first-generation low-flow models. Advanced shower and sink faucet aerators supply the same flow regardless of pressure to reduce water use and the energy used to heat it.
- Xeriscaping, or using native plants, significantly reduces the need for watering, fertilizers and herbicides.