Between rising energy costs and concerns about the environment, many homebuyers keep energy efficiency top of mind when considering a home. Older homes are often more difficult to keep warm or cool, and retrofitting them with energy-efficient options can be challenging or cost-prohibitive.
These days, most local building codes require homebuilders to use certain building materials to achieve minimum energy efficiency standards when building new homes. However, even these standards aren’t always enough to satisfy today’s buyers. As a trusted homebuilder serving central Alabama, Lowder New Homes strives not only to meet these codes but to exceed them with an array of energy-efficient features standard with every home they build — as well as upgrade opportunities that can help homebuyers save even more.
If low energy bills and reduced environmental impact are important to you, here are five must-haves for any energy-efficient home.
1. High-Grade Insulation
Even with today’s advances in energy-efficient technology, there’s still no better substitute for energy efficiency than a well-insulated home. We’re not just talking about applying insulation in the attic; you need to insulate the walls, as well.
Insulation systems are assigned an “R-value” to measure the amount of energy saved. High R-values indicate there are even temperatures throughout the home and there is minimal loss of heat or cooling energy. For best results, walls should be insulated to an R-value of 15 or higher. Attics should be insulated to an R-value of 38 or greater. Lowder New Homes feature high-density exterior wall insulation with an R-value of 15 or better, as well as loose-fill fiberglass attic insulation blown to a thickness of 16” to achieve an R-value of 38.
2. Energy-Efficient Windows
The next line of defense in improving your home’s energy efficiency? Your windows. Even with proper insulation, heated air can escape through the windows in winter. Likewise, in the summer, it can be a challenge to keep your interior cool when the sun’s rays stream in through windows.
When buying a new construction home, look for a builder who installs “low-E” windows. Short for “low emissivity,” low-E windows are air sealing windows that minimize the amount of heat that can pass through.
While you’re thinking about windows, be sure your exterior doors are equipped with weather stripping to keep air from escaping.
3. HVAC Systems with a High SEER Rating
For most households, the majority of energy costs stem from heating and air conditioning systems. The more efficiently your HVAC or heat pump runs, the less energy it takes to heat and cool your home.
We recommend investing in more efficient heating and cooling systems to keep your utility bills low. Building codes currently require new high-efficiency HVAC systems with a minimum SEER rating of 13 (“SEER” stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). However, a SEER rating of 15 or greater will stretch your energy dollars much farther.
4. Energy Star Appliances
The next place to look for home energy savings is appliances — most notably, your refrigerator, oven, stove, dishwasher, and washer/dryer units. Appliances carrying the Energy Star symbol have been rated for low energy consumption. Make sure your builders install energy-efficient appliances in your home and be sure to ask about upgraded appliance packages for even more savings. While you’re at it, don’t forget to ask for an energy-efficient water heater.
5. Smart Home Technology
Equipping your home with so-called “smart home” technology might seem like more of a luxury or a technological convenience, but in fact, this technology can help you save a lot on your energy bills. Having the ability to control and program heating, cooling, lighting, and appliance use from a smartphone or tablet can greatly reduce unnecessary energy consumption. For example, zoned heating/cooling combined with programmable thermostats can be directed to send heat or cool air into specific rooms only when they are being used, thus reducing waste.
Finally, if you really want to go all out and turn your home into a “green home,” you can consider even more efficient building options to reduce your energy use. Look at renewable energy options like solar heating or consider investing in a high-quality ventilation system.
Lowder New Homes places a high priority on energy efficiency solutions that meet and exceed modern building standards. To learn more about our energy-efficient new construction homes, contact us today.