Ideally, if you want an energy-efficient home, most experts would suggest retrofitting an existing home with energy-efficient upgrades. Building preservationists suggest that historic buildings or homes have energy embedded within the structure – meaning that years ago people used energy to build it. Tearing an old building to clear an area for a new structure uses more energy and wastes the energy used to build it.
However, sometimes you just can’t repurpose an older home. Its structural integrity might be compromised or other underlying issues may prevent you from purchasing it. In any case, you might end up having to start from scratch, and that’s okay.
Building an energy-efficient home may seem like an overwhelming process, but taking the time to do some research and work with experts makes it easier.
Find a LEED Certified Contractor or One with Energy-Efficiency Experience
Green Home Guide by the U.S. Green Building Council has a database of trusted contractors, architects and consultants that can help get your project started on the right track.
Watch for scammers that claim to have LEED certification or some kind of training in building energy-efficient homes. Ask to see a copy of the certification and call the agency to verify if you think that it’s not legit.
(P.S. – Not sure what LEED even means? Read more about LEED certification in this past Zing post.)
Think About Energy-Efficiency Holistically
Just because you used a few energy-efficient windows and a door here and there doesn’t really mean you have a truly energy-efficient home. From the foundation to the roof to how you heat and cool your home all have to work together to get the most bang for your buck.
Additionally, thinking about your home and all of the components working together could lead you to more a more streamline design. For example, a passive solar home design retains and releases heat more efficiently, which could help you purchase a smaller heating and cooling system for your home.
Utilize Recycled Building Materials
Ask your contractor to look into local companies that offer recycled building materials. Sometimes they can be cheaper than newer materials, plus it keeps them out of local landfills.
You might be thinking that they’ll look junky or worn, but you’d be surprised. Many cities have architectural salvage shops that offer unique pieces for your home. From doors to fixtures, many of these things can be retrofitted to meet efficiency standards.
Incorporate Certified Energy-Efficient Building Materials
You may need to supplement building your home with eco-friendly or energy-efficient building materials. With the rise in consumer demand for these types of products, they’re fairly affordable and more are on the market than ever. Things like insulation, paint, carpet, wood floors and roofing materials are some common materials to think about when going green.
Don’t Forget About the Landscaping!
Just as the interior and exterior of your home should be designed with minimal energy consumption in mind, so should your landscaping. Some landscaping designs can aid in the reduction of energy usage in your home, while others can help you reduce water consumption.
Building a new home is an exciting process, and incorporating or making a completely energy-efficient home offers you a ton of great benefits. With real estate trends pointing to more demand for these types of homes, you can put yourself in a good selling position later in the future and enjoy saving money while you live there.