Energy Efficiency Links
Elements of An Energy Efficient House
Basic elements of most energy-efficient homes: a well-constructed and tightly sealed thermal envelop...
Home Energy Magazine
Home performance information tailored to two distinct building and energy-efficiency groups: profess...
Houses That Work: House Design Recommendations By ...
Building envelopes and mechanical systems should be designed for a specific hygro-thermal region, ra...
Insulating Foundations and Floors
Insulating slabs, crawl spaces/walls, methods, under-floor insulation, advantages, disadvantages; in...
Solar Radiation Data for Buildings
For use by architects and engineers, the Solar Radiation Data Manual for Buildings provides solar re...
Specification of Energy-Efficient Installation and...
This manual is a tool to help achieve energy savings from quality installations of HVAC equipment: p...
Sustainable Building Sourcebook: Energy
Considerations, commercial status, and guidelines for energy applications e.g. ventilation, renewabl...
Keys to effective wall insulation; air tight construction, moisture control, complete coverage, Opti...
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Pollution Prevention and Residential Construction- Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
in Home Construction
Non-renewable energy sources are expensive, potentially unstable
and create pollution through their development and combustion. Nowhere
are the impacts of good residential design and construction practices
more apparent than with energy efficiency. The long-term costs of
energy to the homeowner are large, financially as well as in health
Air leakage from poorly sealed ductwork
and building envelope can waste over 50% of a homes heating
and cooling energy. Duct leakage (estimated at 30% of
waste in some homes) can also create pressure imbalances
in a home, endangering health and safety by drawing in
outside air and causing backdrafting of combustion appliances.
Air leakage also contributes to problems with moisture,
noise, dust and entry of pollutants, insects, rodents
and reduced fire safety. Source: http://www.southface.org/home/sfpubs/techshts/cheklist.pdf
In 1993, more than half of the electricity
in homes was used for appliances e.g. lighting, T.V.,
clothes dryer, freezers, ranges, etc. Electrical consumption
due to appliances was shown to be increasing as more households
obtained more appliances like microwaves and computers.
In 1993, only 23% of households had computers, while in
2000 51% had one or more computers. Source:
Higher efficiency equipment, appliances and windows may be more costly
up-front, but energy efficient homes generally require relatively
small heating and cooling systems. Savings gained from the purchase
and installation of such systems can offset other costs. Smaller and
simpler mechanical systems can also enhance design and construction
flexibility. Along with a tighter, more efficiently vented home comes
less moisture. Moisture affects the durability of walls, windows and
finishes and produces floor squeaks and drywall cracks. Fewer callbacks
will result from these conditions and customers will be happier.
The reputation of builders with satisfied customers will be discussed
among homeowners and potential buyers. Greater customer satisfaction
will result from less noise, increased durability and comfort, reduced
maintenance and operating costs, and the reduced reliance on pollution
causing energy consumption. Energy-efficient homes and those with
renewable energy systems qualify homeowners for energy and resource
efficient mortgages, and incentives for renewable energy technologies.
|What Does It
Mean For the Consumer?
Energy efficiency is one of the most direct ways that a consumer
can realize the benefits of a green built home. By implementing
energy efficient techniques, energy bill savings can reach 65%.
Source: Green Buildings are Energy Efficient http://www.nrg-builder.com/greenbld.htm
. Energy-efficiency can also improve the comfort, health and safety
of home occupants through improved indoor air quality, fire protection,
noise levels, reduced maintenance and increased durability.
|What Makes An
"Whole-building design" or a "systems approach"
considers the interaction of all elements of the building site, building
envelope, mechanical systems, and occupants to help achieve optimal
energy performance. The key is to reduce the house load (energy use)
using the best combination of:
- Conservation (insulation, efficient lighting and appliances,
- Insolation (solar gain), and
- Thermal Storage (mass in walls and floors which helps keep the
house a more constant temperature).
Source: Christopher Borton, Sage Mountain Center
The emphasis on each will vary on a site-by-site basis. Most energy-efficient
homes have four basic elements in common:
". . . it has become clear that it is as important
to build a tight building envelope in the hot, humid south as in
the cold north. Similarly, mixed, humid climates and hot, dry climates
also require tight building envelopes. The importance of tight construction
goes far beyond energy conservation. Health and durability are the
principle concerns with respect to this issue."
Discussion Relating to Criteria
Some specific ways to achieve energy efficiency through a systems
approach may include:
- Optimum use of "passive" solar advantages on the building
site (and appropriate overhangs)
- Efficient lighting
- Water conservation fixtures and appropriate placement of water
- Design for appropriate insulation levels and reduce labor costs
with Optimum Value Engineering (OVE) framing techniques
- Incorporation of wind, hydrothermal and/or active solar technologies
- Landscaping (trees, bushes, earthberms provide shading, block
a prevailing wind)
- Thermostat with automatic setback for night and work times
- Increased insulation in exterior wall, ceiling, floors and foundation
- Moisture control within the building envelope to control moisture
- Selection of energy efficient appliances
- Dampers on all vents, fans and chimneys
- Use of appropriate colored materials and coatings on exterior
or roof (i.e. light colored where summer cooling climates dominate)
Guidelines, standards and incentive programs abound for energy
efficiency in residential construction.
- Organizations working to promote alternative energy strive to
provide tax incentives and guidance that will help builders and
consumers more effectively incorporate renewable energy and energy
efficiency into their homes.
- Affordable housing and economic development advocates support
legislative mandates and establish requirements to include energy
efficiency and renewable energy into housing assisted by their
- Utility companies provide audits and incentives for energy efficiency
as well as renewable energy technology development.
- Certification and ratings programs create partnerships between
builders and federal, state, local and non-profit organizations
to enhance communities and marketability one home at a time.
- Energy efficient construction may also qualify consumers for
higher than normal debt-to-income ratio when calculating loan
potentials, enlarging the market of potential home-buyers.
|One rating program that deserves special mention is the Energy
Star home labeling program. Energy Star standards are nationally
recognized and commonly adopted as criteria for other incentive
programs. This program of the Environmental Protection Agency
requires homes to achieve 30 percent reductions in energy over
the Model Energy Code and obtain a third party verification.
For more information on this program see the website located
Check with the following sites for news, product reviews
and current events in Renewable Energy and Efficiency: