Think of the ways we try to separate the outside climate from the inside climate. In a nut shell, that is the goal of an energy efficient house. Take a snowmobile or a dog sled and you will see a domed home made out of snow and ice. Grab a camel ride and get sand in your shoes and you may spend the night in a home that is made of camel hide. But, enough with the “make-do-with-what-you-have” society, we live in a society that has been to the moon and back, so let’s add a little Physics and common sense to the effort of coming home to an energy efficient house.
One interesting insight is the fact that the people that live in igloos and hide huts use far less energy than we do – they are already energy efficient. It seems, that since we have progressed to an advanced society, we have increasingly become extreme energy consumers. We had better find a way to dwell in a more energy efficient house before the seal and hide hunters only have polluted air and bare landscapes in which to live in.
Building Construction: Reduce heating and cooling needs. In all new construction, the building codes are progressively asking for a more efficient house. The effort to provide a better home shell with increased performance is underway, just like it has been for a hundred years. Every builder knows that they may have a leg up on the competition by building a better home. New homes are designed to maximize heat retention during the winter and minimize heat gain during the summer. Three areas of new home construction are vitally important.
Energy Efficient Design: I know you have some very neat features and design ideas that you have been saving up for years. Finally, you are in a position to build your very own home. The problem is, gas is now $3.80 a gallon, electricity is 14 cent a kilowatt, and natural gas is $1.10 per therm. Before you put the final touches on that cool bay window or that classy vaulted ceiling, better take a quick course in energy efficient design.
Floor Insulation-Even the Mongolian sheep herder takes this into consideration. What is the best location for the home on the property. How do hills, trees, other homes, and the passing sun affect the otherwise energy efficient house. Which windows are facing South and where are you going to put the solar thermal and solar electric panels? Site planning means you will be able to take advantage of the environments ability to help you heat and cool your home.
Construction and the placement of the building materials: You get what you pay for. When you hire a contractor to build your home and the fellow the is willing to park his travel trailer on site and build your home for the half the cost of any other builder, he may not be the best person to correctly install the energy efficient measures that will affect your home for years to come. You might ask yourself, “how hard can it be to install insulation?” What you should be asking yourself is, “how hard can it be to install insulation incorrectly?” Whether you live in Macon or Fairbanks, an energy efficient house must have an A-plus thermal barrier.