THE BEST TIME TO THINK ABOUT ENERGY EFFICIENCY IS IN THE PLANNING STAGE. THE MOST EFFICIENT HOMES TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SITE, DESIGN, ENERGY EFFICIENT MATERIALS AND THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY.
SITE - Make the most of your site's natural features, considering sun and wind. Especially in cold climates, plan a good amount of southern exposure, since the south side receives almost three times the sunlight as other sides. Minimize glass on the north, east and west, but remember to let in some light to balance. Deciduous trees on the south block hot summer sun, but are leafless in the winter to let the sunshine in. In hot climates, shield the house from effects of direct sunlight, both for comfort and for air-conditioning efficiency. Overhangs, porches, shade trees and windows in the path of air flows can help prevent overheating in the summer.
DESIGN - The less space you have to heat, the better. Determine exactly how much space your family requires. Then arrange rooms in relation to the sun, light and heat where you need them most: the breakfast nook in early morning, the kitchen throughout the day, and the family room during the late afternoon. Consider locating sleeping and working areas to the north, where cooler temperatures are preferred. A kitchen will generate its own heat. If at all possible, avoid placing an entry to the north, or at least keep cold air from entering with an air-lock entry.
MATERIALS & TECHNOLOGY - Fifty to seventy percent of the energy used in the average American home is for heating and cooling. The use of energy-saving materials is essential if you want to substantially reduce energy costs.
The crucial role of thermal insulation:
Insulation not only saves money, it can make your home more comfortable. Insulation helps maintain a uniform temperature throughout the house. Walls, ceilings and floors will be warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Fewer drafts mean your home will remain comfortable at lower thermostat settings. Thermal insulation also acts as a sound barrier keeping noise levels down.
The insulating ability of the components of a home, whether in the roof, walls, windows or doors, is most often measured in terms of R-value, or the resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.
Tyvek® house wrap improves energy efficiency:
Tyvek® acts as a windbreaker over insulation to help stop drafts and prevent air movement in the insulation cavity, thereby protecting R-value. Air movement can account for 30-40% of a home's total heating or cooling loss. Tyvek® is placed on the exterior or cold side of the insulation, over the sheathing. A vapor barrier – heavy polyethylene sheathing – is placed on the interior or warm side of the insulation. Equally important, it keeps moisture away from the insulation, which would destroy its R-value.
Low-E insulated windows
Low-E glass uses a hidden metallic coating and Argon-filled cavity to provide maximum energy efficiency. It allows sunlight to enter and heat your home. But when the heat tries to escape, the coating reflects it back into the room. As much as 90% of the radiated heat is retained, reducing heat loss up to 50%. In summer or in hot climates, the reverse is true: Low-E blocks the heat from entering the home.
Insulated entrance doors
Your best choice is an insulated door with a high R-Value. Pre-hung insulated door systems come complete with weather for a tight fit with no gaps to waste energy. Choose an insulated door for your garage if it doubles as a winter workshop or is attached to your home.
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