An ultra-efficient home combines state-of-the-art, energy-efficient construction and appliances with commercially available renewable energy systems, such as solar water heating and solar electricity. The combination offsets or mitigates a home’s energy use.
Ultra-efficient homes optimize and include the following design features:
- Climate-specific design
- Passive solar heating and cooling
- Energy-efficient construction
- Energy-efficient appliances and lighting
- Solar water heating system
- Small solar electric system.
These homes have a number of advantages:
- Improved comfort—an energy-efficient building envelope reduces temperature fluctuations
- Reliability—an ultra-efficient home can be designed to continue functioning even during blackouts
- Energy security—a home that produces energy protects its owner from fluctuations in energy prices
- Environmental sustainability—an ultra-efficient home saves energy and reduces pollution
Whole-House Systems Approach
Designing and constructing an energy-efficient house requires careful planning and attention to details. A whole-house systems approach can help you and your architect develop a successful strategy for incorporating energy efficiency into your home’s design.
A whole-house systems approach considers the interaction between you, your building site, your climate, and these other elements or components of your home:
- Appliances and home electronics
- Insulation and air sealing
- Lighting and daylighting
- Space heating and cooling
- Water heating
- Windows, doors, and skylights.
Builders and designers who use this approach recognize that the features of one component in the house can greatly affect other components, which ultimately affects the overall energy efficiency of the house.
These are some benefits of using a whole-house systems approach:
- Reduced utility and maintenance costs
- Increased comfort
- Reduced noise
- A healthier and safer indoor environment
- Improved building durability.
You can use the whole-house systems approach with any home design. Using this approach, you also might consider designing a home that generates its own electricity.
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