The average house in the US is 46 years old – quite a stunning statistic when you think about it. It means that more than half of all properties in the country were built before the late 1970s – a time well before the general public recognized the importance of energy-efficient houses.
Today, though, the situation is different. We now know that owners’ home construction choices affect the bills they eventually pay and the CO2 they produce.
In this post, we discuss the properties of an energy-efficient house and why you should build one. Here’s everything you need to know.
Building Properties In The Right Way
People are sometimes surprised to discover that the majority of a home’s efficiency comes from the way home builders construct it, not fancy electronics or gadgets. Ever since the 1990s, construction companies have been following the German Passivhaus Standard to reduce the amount of energy consumed by homes. This standard ensures that construction teams closely follow energy efficiency rules. The idea is to create design features that passively reduce energy requirements for the home, without the need to tack on energy improvements into the home later.
Thus, zero energy homes built in this style usually include features like triple glazing, cavity walls, and extra-thick insulation in the roofing. These elements add to the price in the short-run but typically result in savings over the long term.
Airtightness Is Critical in Being Energy Efficient
You could build your home with the most advanced materials in the world. But if there are drafts, they won’t be able to do their job. That’s why green home builders focus so much on making new properties airtight.
You don’t want cold air rushing into the property. But at the same time, you want to avoid sealing the home to the point where you prevent fresh air from entering.
Most energy-efficient home builders use insulated concrete formwork, structural insulated panels, and cross-laminated timber to improve airtightness characteristics. Regular brick and block are okay by themselves, but usually require tapes and membranes to boost their performance. Green builders will usually recommend using airtightness techniques in conjunction with costly energy-efficient home features, such as triple glazing, to ensure you get value from your investment.
Energy-efficient home systems try to use nature to their advantage whenever possible. Therefore, many green builders orientate their homes so that they’re south-facing. This positioning ensures that they get the maximum amount of sun throughout the year.
Energy Efficient Green Homes Have High Thermal Mass
Have you ever noticed that some buildings remain cool, even on hot days? That’s because they have a high thermal mass – a measure of the responsiveness of the internal temperature to the temperature outside.
Materials such as brick and concrete have high thermal mass and help to keep homes warm or cool. By contrast, wood paneling reduces thermal mass, increasing internal temperature variation.
If you’re looking to build an energy-efficient home, shoot to increase the thermal mass as much as possible. This will help you to retain whatever warmth you generate in the home during winter while also keeping the home cool in the summer.
If you’re looking for a green home builder in Bend Oregon and/or have questions about green building construction just give us a call today.
We’ve been building green homes in Oregon for over 41 years and would love the opportunity to help you however we can. Give us a call today at (541)-388-0719!