When faced with building a new home, you may be surprised at the number of options available for lowering your energy consumption, and thus, your utility bills. However, some ideas are better than others, and a good rule of thumb, according to Bethany Jenkins, Vice-President of Jenkins Custom Homes, is to evaluate the product and choose those with a 2-4 year payback. One of the benefits of building a new home – as opposed to purchasing an existing – is the flexibility you have in design. Here are some of our favorite ways to control energy costs:
- Start with a great design. Your home’s orientation on the lot, as well as the location of windows and doors, can take into consideration cross-ventilation and the direction of the sun in both winter and summer months.
- Have a carefully planned “thermal envelope”. The thermal envelope is a technical term for the insulation in your home. Think of it like a thermos – the quality of the insulation is what determines how hot or cold your liquid inside remains. The same is true of your home. Putting your money into a high-density foam insulation and highly efficient windows will keep your home warmer or cooler, therefore reducing the number of times the A/C or heater has to cycle on and off.
- Require high-performance mechanical systems (heating and cooling systems, hot water heaters), as well as appliances.
- Employee technology when cost-effective (occupancy sensors for lights, A/C & heater, for instance).
- Carefully placed trees can shade your house from cold winds or the summer heat, and drought resistant landscaping will lower your water usage. A good landscape architect can design your green space with eye toward lowering your energy costs.