Building a new home offers you comfort, quality, and durability. When you are considering your highly efficient custom home (or dream home!), often we think about the design of the look and feel of the exterior, or the interior design and overlook the core benefits.
A highly efficient custom home is built with details that offer peace of mind using “tried-and-true” building practices, along with independent inspections, so you can be sure that things were done as they should. Efficiency features include using superior quality materials which provide better performance in the long term. Another benefit includes the comfort of a heating and cooling system that ensures consistent temperatures throughout your home. High energy efficiency means lower utility and maintenance costs. Energy Star certified homes are at least 10% more energy-efficient than homes built to code and achieve a 20% improvement on average, even when compared to most resale homes on the market today. When considering the energy efficiency of a new home, there are a few topics of consideration: thermal enclosure, heating and cooling, water management and appliances.
The thermal enclosure of a new luxury home includes air sealing, extreme insulation, as well as high-performance windows. Air sealing is when we create an air barrier between your living space and the outside. The air sealing barrier should be just inside of what is commonly referred to as the thermal barrier, i.e., your insulation. Without air sealing the benefits of added insulation are often reduced to half or less because air easily moves through insulation and it then loses its ability to insulate.
Greystone Homes pays attention to details, like making sure all penetrations have been sealed and sealing the drywall in your attic to prevent leaks and wind wash. (Wind Wash is when wind passing through or behind thermal insulation causes loss of heat flow control or even condensation.) Making sure your highly efficient custom home has been sealed properly can save you thousands of dollars over a span of seven to eight years. The EPA offers a fact sheet on the Thermal Enclosure System if you’d like more information.
In building construction, there are different forms of insulation in order to reduce the loss of heat through walls, ceilings, and floors. In general, insulation helps to keep heated interior spaces warm in the winter, and air-conditioned spaces cooler in the summer. Having excellent insulation makes your home comfortable living space and can considerably reduce your energy costs.
Insulation is usually measured with a scale known as an R-value. The type of insulation you select when designing and constructing a space will depend on your desired R-value. We work with Great Lakes Superior Walls for our basement foundation walls, which offer insulation with an R-12.5 value, versus a traditional precast R-1.
Above is an example of a high-performance window with low expansion foam around it to make sure that we don’t have air infiltration from the outside. High-performance windows feature advanced technology, like protective coatings and frames that are highly insulated. Additionally, these windows can block ultraviolet rays from the sun that might normally discolor furniture and carpets. Also notable in the photo is that the blown-in insulation is packed into every nook. Fiberglass batts, an older way of insulating, typically leave voids and/or compressed areas that reduce the effective value of the insulation. What you can’t see above is that we have rigid foam, i.e. Dow Styrofoam on the exterior so that in addition to the insulation between the studs, there is a continuous insulation layer on the exterior. We wrap our homes with a “blanket” of foam just like you might wrap up with a blanket on a cold Michigan evening.
Heating and Cooling
New technology in highly efficient custom home systems use less energy, are quieter and many offer better warranty coverage. Additionally, newly built homes can benefit from ventilation systems that exchange indoor air with air from the outdoors to help reduce pollutants that might be found in the home. Per the CDC there are a variety of sources of indoor air pollution.
Smart thermostats and other systems can use machine learning to monitor how you tend to adjust your heat and cooling and can automatically make changes for you. In addition to making you more comfortable, this could potentially reduce your utility bill as well as allowing you to monitor and control your system remotely
When building new homes, we utilize flashing, moisture barriers and heavy-duty membranes in order to drain water from the walls, roofing, and foundations.
In this photo, you can see the installation of a wind and moisture barrier known as house wrap. All unheated areas like garages are covered in house wrap before siding, stone, etc. are installed on the exterior. Heated areas use an exterior foam blanket mentioned above to prevent water and wind intrusion.
Utilizing energy star rated appliances
Installing highly efficient appliances and lighting systems and provide excellent performance and reduce your utility bill. Many new lighting systems last longer and utilize less energy than traditional bulbs. According to the EPA, home appliances account for almost 11 percent of energy usage in the average home. Energy Star certified appliances boast lower energy costs and provide improved quality, performance, and durability.
An Efficient Home’s Environmental Impact
Utilizing expertise of best practices and building science in building a highly efficient custom home, we provide our clients with systems that offer you the utmost comfort, quality, and durability. Beyond the comforts and cost savings associated with your own home, efficiency can reduce your carbon footprint and the environmental impact of your energy usage. To find out more about how your daily life has an effect on the world around us, read more from the EPA. Call our office to find out more about how we can build your energy-efficient dream home!