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Save Money with an Energy-Efficient Home

In designing a new home, the two most important features are the foundation and energy efficiency. If you're considering cutting costs, it is better to scale back on other areas of your home construction project rather than the foundation and other energy-saving features. Even if you're able to pay your house off, you will never get away from paying utility bills.

The following items are energy-saving features Steve Shuert RESIDENTIAL DESIGN in Allen, Texas, recommends in your new home design to help you save money:

Spray Foam Insulation: Spray foam insulation is the most energy-efficient product you can install in your home, allowing you to lower your heating and cooling energy usage by 50% to 60% compared to traditional insulation products. That means that you are directly responsible for 50% to 60% less oil, natural gas, or coal being burned to create electrical power to fuel your air conditioner/heater. Spray foam insulation is also made with renewable plant oils and recycled water bottles and is manufactured on site as it is applied. This allows for the process to begin in an environmentally friendly way and to help significantly reduce the fuel used to insulate your home.

View a video on spray foam insulation. 

Windows: Windows are the most common place for homes to lose warm air in the winter and cool air in the summer. Glass is an excellent conductor by which hot and cold air move quickly in and out of homes, meaning your heating and cooling systems have to work much harder to keep you comfortable. To help keep that air where you want it, consider using energy-efficient blinds and replacing your windows with energy-efficient ones. Also, look for "low-E" windows, which often have double panes with argon or krypton gas between the panes. This gas barrier helps reduce conductivity without affecting the view.

Aluminum Frames: Aluminum frames do not rank especially high as an energy-efficient option because they are heat conductors — the flow of energy is not as regulated as with other framing products. They are quite cost effective, and it doesn't take much to maintain them.

Vinyl Frames (Also Called PVC, uPVC, and PVCu): Vinyl frames are more energy efficient than aluminum frames. They're popular for their low cost, low maintenance, and resistance to moisture.

Wood Frames: Wood frames are energy efficient, though they will cost you quite a few pennies at the outset and in regular maintenance costs. They are relatively easy to repair if broken, and you can ensure a sustainable product by purchasing from a certified supplier.

HVAC: For HVAC systems, ductwork should be sealed with mastic, a concrete-based paste that is painted over the joints to prevent air leakage, or with foam insulation. Air-conditioning systems with a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) of 15 exceed the code minimum of 12. With houses being so tight, it is recommended that you include an outside (fresh) air intake.

Plumbing: Dual-flush toilets that use 0.8 gallons of water to flush liquid or light waste or 1.6 gallons of water to flush solid waste are recommended. Kohler claims that these types of toilets can save up to 2,000 gallons of water per year.

While residents leave the heat off in their homes when they leave for vacation, the same cannot be said for hot water. It seems only logical to leave the hot water off when it is not needed. This is the logic behind the "tankless" or "instant" water heater, which provides on-demand and instantaneous hot water at an efficient and less costly rate. Although the intangible savings of fossil fuel pollution and water waste are not immediately apparent, the fact that energy and water are such indelible aspects of a home's eco footprint means that the water heater is an ideal target for those aiming to conserve.

Tankless heaters not only save several square footage of storage space, but also prevent standby energy losses and sitting water. Typical tankless water heaters can be about 35% more energy efficient than traditional storage tank water heaters for a home that uses about 40 gallons of hot water a day.

Vinyl Window Rating

Vinyl Window Seal


Tankless Water Heater

Depending on the extent of their use, tankless heaters can yield energy savings of up to 50% if they are installed in a strategic and advantageous manner. Since approximately 15% of the total energy expenditure of typical households goes to heating water, the benefits can be far-reaching.

Click to view a video on tankless water heater systems.