Many homeowners have recognized the benefits of having an energy-efficient home. The idea of both saving money and reducing their carbon footprint has homeowners searching out upgrades for their existing homes and demanding the construction of new homes with all the appropriate bells and whistles. Construction companies have noticed this trend is not a fly-by-night fad, and most are now embracing energy-efficient construction as a de facto way of doing business. They may offer several options to homeowners as either an upgrade to their current home or as part of their new construction package.
Here Comes the Sun
Solar power has come a long way since its inception. No longer overly complicated and only available in bulky panels that could only be installed by a professional, a solar power system is more adaptable now and easier to master.
Solar panels are still widely used. Some cover rooftops or sit adjacent to your home in a panel array. All require an electrical hook-up to your home and access to batteries to store the excess energy generated by the sun on bright, cloudless days. Today’s solar panels are lighter, more flexible and more sensitive. This means they collect more energy even on cloudy days than previous incarnations of panels.
Variations on the standard solar panel include the stand-alone version. Popular with anyone who needs a way to provide themselves with portable power, these panels set up quickly and can be moved to sunny spots when you need them. While not capable of running your refrigerator, they can certainly heat the water you’ll need to have a hot shower while you’re camping.
Another incarnation of the solar panel is the solar shingle. Placed on your roof, these actually replace the shingles currently there to make your entire roof into a solar system. Most people can’t even notice the difference from regular shingles. Just check with your homeowners association before installation to avoid trouble.
What’s Inside Counts
Sometimes the construction materials themselves help with energy efficiency. It’s common knowledge that insulation reduces your carbon footprint because it reduces the amount of both heated or cooled air that leeches out of your home. Were you aware, however, that the kind of insulation you use can not only better serve your home’s energy retention but also be a method of carbon footprint reduction?
Fiberglass is not your only option for insulation anymore. Wool clothing keeps people warm, even when it’s wet. Wool insulation for our homes — yes, wool from sheep — provides a sustainable, eco-friendly alternative to insulating our homes that is also naturally fire retardant.
Denim is made from cotton. This organic material is naturally bug repellant and doesn’t contain formaldehyde like fiberglass does. So, doesn’t it make sense that upcycling denim into insulation would be beneficial to both our homes and the environment? You’re not plopping down stacks of Levi’s or Wranglers in your walls, though. The denim material is processed into rolls that look similar to the way fiberglass is provided.
When the Temperature Goes Down or Up
As with utilizing materials wisely, construction companies are getting smarter about the techniques they employ to make home energy efficient. For homes in cooler climates, harnessing the power of the sun’s natural light doesn’t stop with the installation of solar systems. How the home is positioned in reference to the sun in the sky can help keep the place warmer in the winter. Utilizing walls of windows to allow in more light not only makes a home seem more friendly but also increases the ambient air temperature.
The opposite is true for homes in warmer climates. Limiting the sun’s exposure into those homes is paramount to ensuring the home stays cooler for the comfort of the home’s occupants. The strategic placement of doors and windows to avoid sun exposure is one trick builders use. Another is to employ the use of overhangs to reduce the amount of direct sunlight a home receives.
There are many options for energy-efficient construction homeowners can explore.