When you look at a home, it may appear well designed. It can be beautiful, with detailed architectural accents, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s well designed from an energy efficiency perspective. In order for a building to be truly energy efficient, a multitude of design elements must be taken into account.
A building envelope is the area of separation between the indoors and outdoors of a structure. A tight, well designed building envelope is essential to keeping conditioned air inside and unconditioned outdoor air out.
Most homes in the U.S. are constructed with a traditional wood frame. With appropriate construction techniques and careful attention to detail, wood-framed homes can be energy efficient and long lasting. It is now possible to purchase sustainably harvested wood, making the entire construction process more environmentally friendly.
Energy efficient homes and buildings have much higher insulation R-values or thermal resistance than required by local building codes. The higher the R-value the more insulated a building is, making it cooler during the summer and warmer during the winter.
A standard house in our area may have R-11 insulation in the exterior walls and R-19 in the ceiling. The floors and foundation walls may have no insulation whatsoever. A well designed and energy efficient home, on the other hand, may have insulation levels that range from R-20 to R-30 in the walls and from R-50 to R-70 in the ceilings.
Moisture is a major threat to buildings. It can damage the structure and cause serious health concerns. Vapor barriers should be properly installed to help prevent moisture from wreaking havoc.
Most homes lose about 25% of their heat through windows. Energy efficient windows placed accordingly and using passive solar techniques are crucial to preserving energy efficiency.
An energy efficient building should be tightly sealed, meaning air which moves moisture, heat and pollution along with it, should have a very difficult time getting in and out. Controlled, mechanical ventilation is therefore necessary to prevent risks from poor indoor air quality and decrease indoor humidity, reducing the potential for structural moisture damage.
Appropriately sized heating and cooling units are critical to an energy efficient home. Taking into account the true heating and cooling load helps HVAC units to be right-sized. Most units are too large for the areas they are supposed to heat or cool, making the entire process truly inefficient.
Although energy efficient appliances can be a bit more expensive initially, they usually save energy and money in the long-term.
EDGE Energy is the energy expert for Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC. We will work with you to make your home or building’s design more energy efficient, helping you save money, stay comfortable and reduce your carbon footprint.
Contact us or call (888) 586-3343 today to learn about how to improve your home’s design for true energy efficiency!
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