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Energy efficient homes aren't just good for the environment -- they're good for your wallet too. By reducing energy output in your home, you'll reduce your carbon footprint and save money. There are small ways you can improve the energy efficiency of your home, like using energy smart light bulbs and installing energy efficient appliances.


But if you're building or renovating a home, we would encourage you to consider a whole-house approach and incorporate energy efficient home design into your plans. What does whole-house energy efficiency look like? We'll walk you through it with our guide to energy efficient home ideas.

 

Appliances and lighting

When you shop for energy efficient appliances, keep an eye out for the "Energy Star" label, which signifies high-efficiency appliances. There are more than 40 major appliances and light fixtures that fall under the Energy Star label.

 

For your most-used lighting fixtures, save money by using energy efficient LED light bulbs. Typically our kitchen lights, living room lamps, bathroom vanities and porch lights are more used than other lighting throughout the home.

 

dimly lit rustic kitchen with wooden cabinetry and stone walls

Heating and cooling systems

Heating and cooling systems use nearly half of a home's energy. When designing or updating your home, consider high-efficiency heating and cooling systems to use a smaller amount of energy. The HVAC system should be installed in accordance with Energy Star home standards. If the HVAC is installed incorrectly, the efficiency of the home is compromised by up to 30 percent. Ceiling fans are another way to conserve electricity during the warmer months. Low cost and high efficiency, ceiling fans circulate warm air down in the cool winter and bring cool air up in the hot summer months.

 

Cool roofs are one additional and very neat energy efficient feature to protect homes against solar heat and keep homes and attic spaces cool. The shingles are made from low thermal mass materials, such as clay, tiles or slate, that reflect sunlight instead of absorbing it, like traditional asphalt shingles do.

 

Renewable energy

Utilizing renewable energy by installing renewable energy features like solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on a south-facing non-shaded roof, helps to lower home energy usage in a cost-efficient manner. Solar PV technology captures the most abundant renewable energy which is sunlight (solar radiation) and converts it into direct current electricity.

 

angular exterior home design with large picture windows

Air sealing and insulation

Hot air can be lost through ductwork when the joints are not properly sealed. Make sure your ductwork is tightened and remove any duct tape from the joints. Seal joints with duct mastic, instead, which is a water-based acrylic sealer that works much better at keeping ductwork airtight. Changing your air filters regularly, every one to two months makes heating your home more efficient and also saves energy.

 

Continuous insulation is important for energy efficient homes, as well. This is uncompressed and continuous insulation across any structural members without thermal bridges, except for fasteners and service openings which can be implemented on new home builds or if you’re considering renovating the outside of your home. Thermal bridges are areas of a wall assembly that enable heat and energy to pass through it at a higher capability than other surrounding areas. Continuous insulation stops thermal bridging and eradicates condensation and air leakage. This will save you money and energy by lowering heating and cooling costs.

 

A few additional ways to reduce energy include:

  • Recycling
  • Using less water
  • Buying locally produced and used goods
  • Turning off unused light switches
  • Using cold water when you do laundry
  • Air-drying dishes
  • Maintaining appliances and HVAC equipment
  • Insulating around windows and doors

For more information about incorporating energy efficient home design into your new build or remodel, get connected with Gilbert + Burke's team of eco-friendly designers and builders today. We would be pleased to help you create a more sustainable living space, help the environment and save money with energy efficient home practices over time.

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