The 2010 AVID Home Design Driver Research Survey showed that the majority of home buyers rated energy efficiency as a “Must Have” for their new homes. Although Boise and southwestern Idaho have some of the lowest power rates in the nation, home buyers still want their new homes to be energy efficient.
How do you build an energy-efficient home in Boise, Idaho and how much more does it cost? The U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America Program has shown that new homes can be both energy efficient to live in and cost effective to build. In fact, the energy consumption of new houses can be reduced by 40% or more with little or no impact on the cost of ownership.
Building America works with members of the home-building industry to produce quality homes that use less energy without costing more to build. The goal is to develop cost-effective solutions that dramatically reduce the average energy use of housing while improving comfort and quality. This is accomplished through a systems engineering approach to homebuilding.
The systems engineering approach considers the interaction between the building site, envelope, and mechanical systems, as well as other factors, throughout the design and construction process, It recognizes that features of one component in the house can greatly affect others and it enables builders to incorporate energy-saving strategies at no extra cost . Systems engineering allows builders to identify improvements to the design of a home that will ultimately save money. For example, the design might incorporate advanced framing systems that require less wood and labor. The saving on lumber and framing labor can then be reinvested in improved insulation or high-performance windows. Controlling building envelope leakage by tightening the building envelope enables builders to install smaller, less expensive heating and cooling systems. These savings can then be reinvested in higher-efficiency equipment..
Other examples of systems engineering cost-saving trade-offs include:
Proper placement of heating and cooling systems allowing shorter duct runs saving material and installation costs.
Locating ducts in the interior, conditioned space of a home (as opposed to in exterior walls or unconditioned attic spaces) eliminates loss of conditioned air to the exterior allowing the use of smaller, less expensive heating and cooling systems.
Future articles will discuss each of these cost-effective solutions in more detail.
Next, Advanced Framing.