Energy Efficient New Home
Simple Techniques To Build a Green New Home & Save Big Money
Integrating energy efficient design and building greener custom homes involves many techniques, which can range from the very simple and seemingly “no-brainer” in design changes, to using sophisticated, innovative materials and construction methods.
Often, very simple design changes can make your new home much greener and energy efficient, with very little extra cost, if any, in terms of the initial construction. As it turns out, a lot of these simple design changes can actually add to the beauty, comfort, aesthetics and even the resale value of your Southern California mew home.
Let’s take a look at some other simple changes you can make and the typical construction methods that will go into making your new home greener, how much they cost, and the expected annual savings and payback time.
This is one of the simplest changes you can make to save significant money on your utility bill with little upfront cost and no real labor. Numbers are based on 40 bulbs @ 3 hrs. per day. Average lifetime of a bulb is approx. 6,000 hrs.
• Initial cost: Approx. $136 – Annual Savings: Approx. $200
• Payback Time: 8 months
This is a common area of major air conditioning energy loss in California. According to the U.S. Department of Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute, 25% to 40% of the heating and cooling energy put out by heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems is lost through the ductwork system (Please see our article on Air Conditioning Systems for more information).
• Initial cost to professionally seal and insulate all ductwork: Approx. $1,350
• Annual Savings: Approx. $250
• Payback Time: 5.4 years
Professionally Installing Insulation
This is a major area to address in making your home as Green and as energy efficient as possible. Using expanding foam in the block walls and spray foam in the ceilings (we use Icynene, Demelac or Bayer products) will significantly decrease energy loss and increase energy-savings. (Please see our article on Home Insulation for more information).
• Initial cost to professionally install insulation: Approx. $2,000 $5,000
• Annual Savings: Approx. $350
• Payback Time: 5.7 – 14.2 years
This is probably the most important area to address in making your home as Green and as energy efficient as possible. According to the Department of Energy, your windows can be the largest source of heat loss within your home and installing storm windows can reduce heat loss through your windows by approx. 30% to 40%. Installing Low-E storm windows can save you even more energy. Low-E storm windows have microscopically thin coatings applied to the window glass that helps keep heat inside during the winter and outside during the summer. The numbers here are calculated for an average home with 25 windows at a cost of approx. $100-$200 per window (Please see our article on Storm Windows for more information).
• Initial cost: Approx. $2,500 – $4,700 Annual Savings: Approx. $690
• Payback Time: 4 – 7 years
Tankless Water Heater
This is another big improvement in appliance technology that can bring you big dividends. Although a little expensive initially, you can see the payoff. Numbers are calculated for a family of four using a gas Bosch AquaStar 7.2-gpm tankless heater supplying two or three major applications (shower, dishwasher, kitchen sink).
• Initial cost: Approx. $1,489
• Annual Savings: Approx. $175
• Payback Time: 8.5 years
A surprisingly big money saver and a big improvement in technology. These numbers are based on a family of four using a Kohler WaterSense toilet.
• Initial cost: Approx. $299
• Annual Savings: Approx. $90
• Payback Time: 3.3 years
Some of the biggest advances in energy efficient appliances have come with more energy efficient refrigerators. As we mention in our Energy Efficient Appliances Page, a refrigerator built today is 75% more efficient than one built in 1970, and 40% more efficient than one built just ten years ago. These estimates are based on a GE Energy Star® 18.2-cubic-foot refrigerator- freezer, vs a 1990 refrigerator-freezer.
• Initial cost: Approx. $729
• Annual Savings: Approx. $90
• Payback Time: 8.1 years
Once again, we will be here to help you and are glad to thoroughly discuss with you all of your options when it comes to building a greener Southern California home, as well as recommend the best appliances and air conditioning and heating systems to install to get the most out of your building dollars.