Energy Efficient Custom Homes-Energize Your Home Building

In almost every case there are nothing in a person's life that can top the special events surrounding the family unit: births, graduations, marriages, holidays. One situation that ranks almost as high is building a new home. This is because from the inception of the home design to meeting with the homebuilder on your vacant lot there is a feeling of impending greatness to come as the family visualizes driving into the spacious new garage and entering the sparkling new home.

With custom home building the prospective homeowner chooses the lot and the home plans. This person - or persons - and the home builder then sit down to discuss which home design will work with this specific parcel. Building issues such as the slope of the land, the placement of the home on the lot, building code, environmental concerns and boundary lines are considerations during this stage of building. If it is a new neighborhood then covenants such as color, types of materials and the placement of the garage may have to be worked out. However, many people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars without considering how the design of their home will affect their energy costs.

1) Heat from the Sun

Many solar heating experts will explain that one of the best ways to supplement the heat in a home is to position the structure to take advantage of the sun's rays in the winter and to have this solar energy deflected in the summer. Now this might sound like an oxymoron but this is part and parcel of making the home more efficient. In the winter the windows are positioned to take in the sun's heat which is then stored in the materials that make up the interior of the house. When summer comes the same angle of the windows prevents excess sun from entering the dwelling thus keep air conditioning bills down.

The sun's energy is short, wavelength radiation that passes through transparent surfaces, like glass, or is absorbed by non-transparent ones like walls and floors. A certain amount of energy will heat the glass or be deflected because glass is not entirely transparent. The heat from the inside surfaces is given back into the room as “long waves.” This is known as the “Greenhouse Effect” because the heat stays in the building just as it does in a greenhouse.

Having more than one pane of glass in the windows has an effect on how much sunlight passes thorough it. For example, a single pane lets in approximately 85% of light, double-pane glass around 75% and triple-pane will allow between 62-65% of the light to come through. If the sun is perpendicular to the window this increases the flow of light because the light does not travel through the glass at an angle. Figuring out the times when the sun is low (winter) and high (summer) can be instrumental in where to place your


2) Shelter from the Elements

On the eastern coast of America you can still drive through quaint fishing villages but this is quickly changing. Land here is being purchased so that luxurious ocean-front homes can be built and the one thing puzzles many prospective buyers is the placement of the old home built by fishermen many generations ago - they are not on the water. Why? Well, if you are situated out on a point of land in the northeast there are very few days of the year when you can go out in just a T-shirt. There is almost a constant movement of air from a gentle sea breeze to a gale and these gusts are almost the same temperature as the water - around 42 degrees. So most of the older generation built their homes back from the water's edge to gain shelter from the normal environmental occurrences, especially in the winter.

For example, picture a house on a promontory - or exposed, elevated spot. It looks like the best place to build because of the spectacular view. However, this home can get wind from up to three directions during a storm. The first is straight on, which is the fiercest because, at higher elevations, the currents of wind are not impeded by trees or other obstacles. The second is backlash from the land, sort of ricochet as the wind meets a high-pressure area further inland. And the third is from underneath where the lower layer of wind coming off the water follows the ground up the hill bringing rain up under the eaves and clapboard siding of the home.

If wind is hitting the home in this manner then it is also taking a certain amount of the warmth away. If you want to build here then special considerations for the blunt force of wind and cold should be considered. For a more energy conservative home pick a sheltered location, one that is not conducive to water runoff as in some low-lying areas.

3) Climate Control

Design your home to take advantage of the sun's heat by allowing for the installation of vents, fans, ductwork and heat absorbing surfaces. For example, a tile-over-cement floor can act as a thermal storage unit, holding in the heat of the winter sun long after the sun has gone down and the outside air becomes frosty. Padded drapery over the window prevents the heat from escaping through the cooling glass. Then fans move the heat as it is radiated off the tile surface into the ductwork and throughout the home.

Whatever type of home you have designed in your mind just remember that the cost of home heating is never going to go down.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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