6 Energy Efficient Solutions To Build Into Your New Vail, Colorado, Home

Many people long to build their dream home someday. If that dream is becoming a reality for you, here are some suggestions to help you make smart use of your money, your options, and the planet’s natural resources by choosing energy efficient solutions.

There’s plenty of discussion around the topic of how to reduce our collective carbon footprint, but what does that mean? It means you have quite a bit of control over how you demand and consume the planet’s limited natural resources. You can reduce your carbon footprint with the sound planning of your new home.

When it comes to making smart use of your dollars in building a new home, the U.S. government will reward you for making energy efficient choices. Current federal income tax credits and other incentives for energy efficiency can be found here: https://www.energystar.gov/about/federal_tax_credits.

Banks are now offering energy efficient mortgages – you can often qualify for a larger loan when investing in a home with green building features. Did you know that green home certification yields an average of 9% increase in resale value?

If you are building a new home, and want to maximize its energy efficiency, here are 6 suggestions to consider:

 

  1. The foundation
    of a sustainable or green building lies in a carefully planned design that focuses on increasing the efficiency of resource use:

    • A southern orientation
      with lots of windows facing west, will result in the most passive heat gain. A skilled architect or designer will balance any winter warmth gain with a complimentary summer cooling solution.
    • Be efficient with size.
      Smaller will always be more energy efficient – do you really need or want extra space that needs to be heated and cooled? Think about design options, too. High ceilings, while beautiful, are energy eaters.
    • Plan for the future
      would you like flexibility for a rental lock off or mother-in-law suite? If you can picture a possible future renovation, including the infrastructure to support plumbing and electricity on the initial build, and you’ll have less disruption when the time comes to renovate. A flexible design with the infrastructure in place is a great resale feature, too
    • Consider which utilities
      are available in your chosen location. Typically, natural gas will be more economical than electricity to run all your systems, but it is not always available.
  2. Your Building Envelope
    is the insulation and sealing of all the places where materials come together. Think of your interior space wrapped in a warm blanket that keeps out the exterior elements. The building envelope is the sum of all the building materials constructed logically and sealed correctly without any gaps. Where gaps exist, energy escapes. Take note of all the places where different building materials will come together and how they need to be sealed for maximum efficiency.
  3. Energy efficient appliances
    and electronics continue to improve every year. Choose the best you can afford. Look for the ENERGY STAR certification which means the appliance has gone through strict testing by the U.S. Department of Energy, Environmental Protection division, to earn this seal. In most cases, these appliances will save up to 50% of the energy that standard appliances use. The appliances that consume the most energy are refrigerators, clothes washers, and clothes dryers.

 

  1. Energy efficient tank water heaters
    are available in gas or electric models and while more costly than standard water heaters, they will save an average of $3,000 over its lifespan. Again, look for ENERGY STAR certified. Another option is a tankless water heater which typically heats the water needed on-demand. These will save on energy, but if your household has a high demand for hot water, this is not a practical solution. Once you decide on your water heater, consider installing thermostatic control valves in your shower. These will allow you to step in when the water is warm, eliminating the waste of running the water until it gets warm.
  2. Heating and Cooling Systems
    are your comfort systems, so don’t try to save money or cut corners here! For the most energy efficient systems, choose one of these options:

    • Solar power
      is by far the most energy efficient, but your home will need to be designed to access, collect, and store the natural heat from the sun. Installation of the solar panels will be your main expense; there will be no monthly energy cost. However, weather conditions for your area may require you to have a backup source as lack of sunny days or extremely cold temperatures can exhaust your storage of power. Solar power can also be used to cool your home, but again, a backup source is recommended.
    • Natural gas
      is geothermal meaning heat from the earth. While it can be cost-prohibitive to add natural gas heat to an existing home if gas exists in your location, building the gas line into a new home is easy and highly recommended. Your cooling system, as well as many appliances, can run very efficiently on natural gas.
  3. Xeriscaped Exterior  
    Your new home must be pleasing to you from the outside as well as inside, so spend plenty of time designing your outdoor space. The energy efficient option is to go with xeriscaping – a fundamental design choosing vegetation that is appropriate for the local climate. A xeriscape thrives without additional irrigation and is drought-tolerant because it is indigenous to the region. The water savings on a xeriscape is huge and a well-designed xeriscape is a beautiful accent to your new Vail, Colorado home.

Have you built your dream home? What was the best energy efficient investment that you made? Let us know in the comments below.

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