Important Design Considerations for Energy Efficient Homes

Important Design Considerations for Energy Efficient Homes

Exerpt from:  DOE Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 4 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Mixed-Humid Climate

Mixed-Humid Design Features

Diagram of an energy-efficient house designA. Efficient Windows: help to control and reduce ultraviolet light that can fade carpets and furniture, helping to keep your belongings looking like new and keeping window areas cooler and more comfortable to sit near. Window flashing protects against water leaks.

B. Compact and Tightly Sealed Duct Runs: shorter runs mean less to go wrong and fewer air leaks to put air where it is intended to go, with fewer contaminants like humidity and dust from attics or crawlspaces. Leaky ducts are a major contributor to mold problems. Return air paths ensure balanced air pressure for less drafts and more balanced temperatures throughout the house. Put ducts in conditioned space,
if possible.

C. Right-Sized and High-Efficiency HVAC Equipment: costs less to install than bigger equipment, saves energy, and is designed to comfortably handle heating and cooling loads. (more…)

ENERGY STAR Program History

EPA began offering the ENERGY STAR® label in 1995. After remaining unchanged for the first 10 years, EPA has revised the thresholds for ENERGY STAR-labeled new homes twice in the last 6 years, raising the bar against a background of improving building technology and evolving energy codes.

Initially the program guidelines focused on improvements in several key areas-reduced energy loss through higher-efficiency windows and doors, tighter overall building shell, tighter HVAC ductwork and more efficient heating and cooling equipment, and independent third-party verification from certified home energy raters. (more…)

Pre-qualified Home Plans

Pre-qualified home plans are blueprints designed to earn the ENERGY STAR® name, and incorporate energy-efficient practices and Energy Star Programspecifications to meet the rigorous ENERGY STAR guidelines set by the EPA.

To qualify, a plan is independently reviewed and verified by a team of professionals, an architect or engineer and a HERS rater, to include energy-saving features and construction practices that will result in a home that is at least 20–30 percent more energy efficient than a standard home. (more…)

Indoor Air Quality: What are you Breathing?

indoor air qualityMost of us spend much of our time indoors. The air that we breathe in our homes, in schools, and in offices and other buildings can put us at risk for health problems. Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of indoor air quality (IAQ) problems in buildings. Air pollutants can be emitted from office equipment, furniture, carpeting, common chemicals like cleaning supplies and pesticides, and gases from fireplaces, stoves, and furnaces. Other indoor air problems can come from living organisms like mold, pet dander, and dust mites. High temperature and humidity levels can increase concentrations of some pollutants. (more…)

Staying Current with New Construction Standards

Staying Current with New Standards

BLD_6IECC 2009: Did you know that the new International Energy Conservation Code® (IECC 2009) requires increased inspections and testing for energy efficiency for all new construction?

The Department of Energy (DOE) is committed to moving to net zero energy homes by 2020. The first major step toward those goals is embodied in the 2009 IECC, which by various estimates is 12% to 15% more energy efficient than its 2006 predecessor. (more…)

Common Household Contminants

What Contaminants are in your home?

household mites

Part of the reason we head indoors is to shelter us from nature. Unfortunately, nature sometimes finds its way inside our homes in the form of contaminants – negatively affecting our air quality and posing a danger to our health in the form of these common contaminants.