Owning your own home is a significant part of the American dream. But how much better is the dream if you have a say in the final result? Building a new custom home gives you, the homeowner, complete control over all of the design elements in the house. One of the most overlooked benefits of building a new custom home is that you can design your new home to be as energy efficient as your budget will allow. Not only are you doing your part to leave a smaller carbon footprint, but you can also save money in energy bills every year. A Home Energy Score is a national rating system that was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy to rate the energy efficiency of a home. A home with an above-average Home Energy Score can save nearly $600 a year over a home with a below-average score. You can work with your builder to choose the appliances and building techniques that will make your new house as efficient as possible within your budget. Here are a few of the best ways to do it.
One of the easiest steps to make your home more energy efficient is to choose the right appliances. This is simpler to do in a custom home where you have control over what your builder will install. Always choose Energy Star–rated appliances over other options for better efficiency. For example, an Energy Star–rated refrigerator uses significantly less energy than non-rated models, 15% less in fact. Many states offer incentives and tax rebates for choosing appliances that are rated for efficiency. You can find out here if rebates are available to you in your area.
Another great way to reduce your home's carbon footprint is to install a cool roof instead of a traditional roof. But what in the world is it? A cool roof is designed to use highly reflective materials that will bounce the sun's rays away from your roof, keeping it as much as 50° cooler than traditional roofs and therefore requiring much less energy to cool your house during the summer. Talk to your builder about the options available to you for installing a cool roof.
Choosing the right water heater for your new home can be critical. The average American uses as much as 80-100 gallons of water a day. As much as half of that can be hot water. Fortunately, there are several types of water heaters you can put in your new home that use less energy. The traditional storage water heater typically costs $320-350 a year to operate. While more expensive up front, an on-demand water heater costs roughly only $220 a year to operate, earning you significant savings in the long run. These heaters are installed at the location of the water flow and only heat the water as you're using it, eliminating the need to keep stored water at a consistent temperature. Another energy-efficient option is a heat pump system. These electric-powered systems use pumps to move heat from one location to another, rather than generating heat. They may extract heat from underground or may extract it from the air. Your builder will know what's available in your area and can give you advice on what's best for your home.
Another great way to make your new home more energy efficient is to choose the right insulation. All insulation in the U.S. has an R-value. This number is a rating of the thermal resistance of the insulating material. Higher R-values indicate a more efficient insulation. If you can opt for an insulating material with the highest R-value, not only will you reduce energy loss, but you can also save on heating and cooling costs overall.
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