Energy Awareness Month in October serves as an ideal time for builders and home buyers to pay special attention to the construction of new homes. Originally designated by President George Bush in 1991, Energy Awareness Month spotlights how specifying energy-efficient products when a home is built can help homeowners save substantially on long-term energy bills.
Energy-efficient homes are constructed from the ground up. That’s why the first decision — what the foundation is made of — sets the “energy tone” for the rest of the home.
“I start construction with Xi® precast concrete wall panels and then add an insulated basement slab to give my homes a head start on their high performance energy efficiency package,” says Shawn Jessup, owner of S.D. Jessup Construction, Inc. in Pilot Mountain, N.C. “I’m building homes that are more than twice as efficient as a standard home built to ‘code.’
“Superior Walls foundation products are crafted to help give a basement an excellent water, thermal and air barrier. I haven’t found any other system that works as fast and easy, plus offers so much to the overall home in so many important areas backed by a strong warranty.”
In creating the rest of the home envelope, builders consciously using foam-backed siding, extra insulation and structural insulated panels are helping create an energy-efficient structure. When it comes to the openings in the house, ENERGY STAR® qualified vinyl windows and fiberglass entry doors offer some of the best resistance to weather, wind and air infiltration.
Perhaps the largest opening in the home, the garage door, also deserves special attention. “Advances in steel and aluminum bring both strong insulation factors and beauty to the garage door offerings for the home,” says Jeffrey Nofziger, president of Haas Door. “Mother Nature can throw some pretty nasty weather at a home, and a garage door takes the brunt of that weather.
“Making a smart choice for a garage door means it will stand up to brutal temperatures and frigid, snowy weather while helping keep the garage interior safe and comfortable. Consider the advantages of a 5200 Series insulated aluminum or 2000 Series insulated steel garage door. These two-inch thick doors are filled with dense CFC-free polyurethane foam insulation with a calculated R-value of 17.66. That’s a garage door that will help keep energy bills lower long term.”
At the top of a home, nothing gets more direct exposure to the sun than the roof. And all those searing sun rays can cause the home interior to heat up if the right roofing tiles are not selected. Fortunately, the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC), an independent testing organization, has developed accurate and credible methods for evaluating and labeling the solar reflectance and thermal emittance of roofing products.
Choosing a synthetic tile roof, such as the DaVinci EcoBlend® composite slate or shake options, can help reflect sunlight and heat away from the home. Approved by the CRRC, six color blends are available that all meet California’s newly-adopted 2016 Building Energy Standards (Title 24, Part 6) requiring the use of energy-efficient roofing materials. Two of the roof colors from DaVinci Roofscapes® — Weathered Gray EcoBlend and Castle Gray EcoBlend — also meet the stringent requirements to receive the ENERGY STAR designation.
For tips on building an energy-efficient home, which includes consideration of appliances and home electronics, insulation and air sealing, lighting, space heating and cooling, along with water heating, visit the www.energy.gov website. Full checklists are available there for energy efficient home design. And, for details on constructing an ENERGY STAR certified home (which can save up to 30 percent on utility bills compared to a typical home), visit www.energystar.gov.