Living in Green Buildings

Conserving energy is on the forefront of everyone’s mind during these times of rising costs. One area you may think about is that building your own home gives you the opportunity to create an energy-efficient lifestyle right from the very beginning. There are three basic components you can focus on in your colonial home plans that will ensure your home will be more energy efficient no matter where you live. These components include using plenty of insulation, having proper exposure to the sun and the use of efficient heating and cooling systems.

No matter where you live, insulation is the most important way to keep warm and cool air from entering or escaping your home. The most common areas needing insulation are the exterior walls, basements, floors, cantilevered areas, walls and ceilings between heated and unheated areas. The types of insulation used are compared according to their R-values or the resistance to heat flow. The greater the R-value the more the insulation stops hot or cool air from leaking out. Figuring out which insulation should be used can be included in your Victorian home plans.

The most effective insulation materials known as foam insulation are polyurethane and polystyrene. They have the highest R-values yet are more costly. Mineral wool, a generic term including fiberglass, glass wool and rock wool, is the most widely used insulation type because it is versatile and fairly inexpensive. Another type of insulation, made out of wood fiber, is called “loose fill.” It is poured from bags or blown with special equipment into cavities that are not easily reachable. Its low cost is offset by a higher risk of fire, rot and insect infestation.

Since most heat escapes from a home through the openings created by doors and windows, insulating these areas is crucial. One way is to use double or triple-pane windows throughout the house.

Multi-pane windows allow just as much sun heat to enter, as do single-pane windows, but they tend to sharply reduce its outward flow. Double-pane windows can cut heat loss by 50 percent over single-pane windows. Triple-pane windows are slightly more effective and can cut heat loss by 65 percent, although they can be very costly and too heavy for some window frames.

In addition, caulking should be applied along window and door frames, as well as around pipes, vents and other perforations of your home’s outer shell. Long-life silicone or latex caulking works best.

Included in your large house plan should be outfitting your home with an energy-efficient heating and cooling system that will keep your family comfortable on the coldest and the hottest days. Products to look for may carry the EnergyStar logo and may end up saving money. Some electric and gas companies even offer rebates to homeowners with systems backed with this certification.

Another attractive way to heat your home is with the simple power of the sun. Think about the site and the home’s orientation in relationship to the sun. You should position your house so that most of the window glass faces south to take advantage of the sun’s heat in the winter. In addition, solar panels may added throughout your home to increase the use of this energy source all throughout the year.