DESIGNING FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Energy efficient design begins with the basics. Here, we share three easy ways to kick-off your efficient plan. LOCATION
Certain homes have become associated with various regions over time, such as the saltbox homes of New England or the ranch homes of the Midwest — and with good reason. Many of these homes were built specifically to handle the conditions present in that particular climate. This climate-specific home design — be it window shading from a hot southern sun or a steep roof for snow runoff — provides a solid base for today’s energy efficient focus without costing extra. To achieve the right design for your location, work with an architect who is familiar with climate-specific design or asking critical questions during the design phase to ensure an environmentally suitable home.
Sure, you want your home to capture the best views. But proper orientation to take advantage of the sun for passivesolar capabilities is also a must for any energy efficient home. A few good rules of thumb: Avoid west-facing slopes in southern climates, because your afternoon sun is really going to heat your house. Northern clime dwellers, on the other hand, should be conscious of the direction of harsh winter winds, perhaps necessitating a south-facing slope. Haven’t bought your property yet? Consider what type of orientation your potential parcel will afford you before making your purchase.
Decreased square footage is definitely a factor in disturbing less of the surrounding environment and consuming fewer materials, thereby creating a more eco-friendly structure. However, you can regain some of that square footage by building upward instead of out. Twostory homes not only disturb less land and use less energy to build, they’re also typically less expensive to build because no additional foundation is needed.
Creative planning can best utilize cost-saving heating and cooling techniques that two-story homes offer. Such plans provide a narrower footprint than one-level homes, allowing more sunlight to infiltrate a greater number of areas in the home. Zone heating also may be more realistic by grouping together frequently used spaces in one area rather than across the home. Another option: placing less-used spaces, which require less heating and cooling, on the northern side of the home to capture more solar benefits in frequent hot spots on the southern end.