Becoming more environmentally conscious starts at home—beyond even your daily habits and decisions, but with your home itself. Innovations in technology, materials and design collectively make energy efficiency an easy target in the current market, which coincides with the rising popularity of green homes.
According to the 2019 edition of the National Association of Home Builders’ survey on “What Home Buyers Really Want,” recent and prospective home buyers from the baby boomer generation expressed strong opinions about the desirability of energy efficient features. About 91 percent of respondents marked ENERGY STAR-rated windows, like those installed by Kroll Residential, as “essential” or “desirable.” Many baby boomers—or 89 percent of respondents—also designated ENERGY STAR-rated appliances as “essential” or “desirable.” These opinions align with general trends among home buyers, who strongly desire energy efficient features.
While there is plenty of talk about going green, some may still be compelled to ask, “What is an energy efficient home?” In other words, what various features collectively comprise a structure that can be defined as environmentally friendly?
Related: “Nice to Have” Features to Consider When Building a New Home
A Green Home Score
First of all, when exploring green homes, it’s worth getting acquainted with the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index, developed by the Residential Energy Services Network. The index is the industry standard for measuring and calculating a home’s energy efficiency and performance. A HERS report for a given house will outline its energy features and the expected cost of utility bills, according to RESN’s website. The lower a home’s HERS Index Score, the more energy efficient it is.
HERS Raters factor a number of variables into a specific home’s energy score, including:
- Exterior walls
- Ceilings and roofs
- Floors over unconditioned spaces
- Windows, doors, vents and ductwork
- Attics, foundations and crawl spaces
- HVAC and water heating systems
- Leakage in heating and cooling distribution systems
- Overall air leakage in a home
Another nationally recognized rating system to measure homes for energy efficiency based on their structure and systems is the U.S. Department of Energy’s Home Energy Score.
Related: 6 Things to Consider When Selecting a Floor Plan
and How to Match a Floor Plan with Your House Goals
How to Build an Energy Efficient House
The best time to address and invest in energy efficiency is from the beginning, while a home is still being designed and built. Not only will your home be more durable and comfortable, but you also will save energy and money, according to the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Because energy efficiency is a highly desirable characteristic among home buyers, semi-custom home builders, like us, are dedicated to incorporating energy efficient home designs and features.
Here is a closer look at how you can make your home energy efficient:
1. Low-E glass for Windows
Windows are, by nature, designed to let in sunlight, and also fresh air when open. However, without the proper type of glass, windows also can be a source of heat loss. Glass with a low-e (or low-emissivity) coating minimizes the amount of ultraviolet and infrared rays entering a home and also keeps the interior temperature consistent by reflecting heat back into a room during winter, rather than letting it escape. There are different types of low-e glass, and your green home builder can help you choose which one is appropriate for your region’s climate. In general, though, installing windows with low-e glass can make your home more energy efficient and save you money on utility bills.
2. Programmable Thermostats
Another ENERGY STAR product to help make your old house or new one more energy efficient is the programmable thermostat. With pre-programmed settings, this style of thermostat can help you regulate your home’s temperature when you are home, away, or asleep. The idea is to only heat or cool your home when you need it—and automatically reduce heating and cooling when you don’t—which can lower your household’s overall energy consumption.
3. Radiant Barrier Roof Sheathing
Radiant Barrier Roof Sheathing, which is installed on your house during the construction phase, is certified under the ENERGY STAR program because it can lower your home’s energy consumption by as much as 17%. The purpose of radiant barrier sheathing is to reflect a majority of the sun’s radiant heat, preventing its transfer through the roof and insulation into interior living spaces.
4. Therma-Tru Doors
Therma-Tru provides a complete door system, with various components designed for durability, reliability, and energy efficiency. Therma-Tru systems include front doors made of fiberglass, an adjustable sill to handle house-settling, PVC brick molding, and FrameSaver jambs. The system is engineered to resist drafts and leaks and to help improve weather resistance and energy efficiency.
5. Low-Flow Toilets and Faucets
Known also as low-flush or high-efficiency toilets, low-flow toilets are designed to reduce water consumption, without sacrificing flushing power. In general, they use only 1.3 gallons of water per flush, as opposed to 1.6 gallons. You can accomplish a similar goal with low-flow faucets, which can reduce water and energy consumption by about 50 percent. WaterSense, a voluntary partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is a nationally recognized label for water-efficient products to guide the incorporation of energy efficient faucets and showerheads into your home.
If you are building your new home in Virginia with Kroll Residential, be sure to mention your desire for the optional upgrade to these low-flow toilets and faucets.
Embracing Green Building Techniques
As technology continues advancing, homeowners will have access to new, innovative energy-efficient options in terms of construction, lighting, appliances, and more. However, the market already offers numerous options for designing and building green homes that are suitable for the Virginia climate and environment. From energy efficient windows and doors to low-flow faucets and toilets, an environmentally conscious builder can help you construct a home that uses energy sparingly and cost-effectively.
“Top 10 Home Features Baby Boomers Want — and Don’t Want.” National Association of Home Builders. Accessed online at http://nahbnow.com/2019/04/top-10-home-features-baby-boomers-want-and-dont-want/
“What Home Buyers Want in 2019.” National Association of Home Builders blog. Accessed online at http://nahbnow.com/2019/02/what-home-buyers-want-in-2019/
“Understanding the HERS® Index.” Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET). Accessed online at http://www.hersindex.com/understanding
“Energy-Efficient Home Design.” Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy. Accessed online at https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/design/energy-efficient-home-design
“Window Technologies: Low-E Coatings.” Efficient Windows Collaborative. Accessed online at https://www.efficientwindows.org/lowe.php
“The Lowdown on Low-Flow Toilets.” HGTV.com. Accessed online at https://www.hgtv.com/design/rooms/bathrooms/the-lowdown-on-low-flow-toilets
“Water Faucets.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed online at https://www.epa.gov/watersense/bathroom-faucets
“Programmable Thermostats.” ENERGY Star website. Accessed online at https://www.energystar.gov/products/heating_cooling/programmable_thermostats