When planning your Northern Michigan custom home, energy efficiency is a special consideration, especially with the harsh winters we often experience.
One of the best things about building a new custom home is that it lets you get things right from the start. The planning stage is the perfect opportunity to make sure all the things you wish were different in your current home are done right when planning and building your new home. When building an energy-efficient custom home, we consider various factors determining efficiency.
Home Layout and the Sun
When designing your home, keep in mind how the sun will track across the property throughout the day and each season. Will windows receive adequate light or too much? How will this affect your heating and cooling? Will you need additional daytime interior lighting to be comfortable? Will you use solar panels, and will they have adequate direct sunshine?
Trees and landscaping can help or hinder. Shade is welcome, but trees can sometimes block sunlight where you would otherwise want it. Will you need to plant, trim, or remove trees?
Insulation serves two purposes; It retains heat during the winter and keeps heat out in summer. As a result, insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your home’s energy performance. And, of course, it is always easier and less expensive to add insulation during the construction process rather than later.
While many brands and types of insulation are available, the most critical factor is their proper use and installation based on your actual blueprint and design. We discuss this with each prospective customer to offer the absolute best outcome.
Regardless of the insulation type, Lakeshore Custom Homes always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions to ensure the best performance and longevity.
Sealing and Caulking
We pay special attention to sealing places that can allow air to enter or exit the home. These places can also allow moisture in as well. Typically, these locations are windows and doors, and where exhaust fans, dryer vents, plumbing, electrical outlets, and utilities penetrate through exterior walls or roofing.
We apply the appropriate caulk or sealant depending on the location, the materials to be sealed, and any additional flashings or fittings.
We are incredibly attentive to sealing and insulating where the sill plate, band board, and floor joists meet. These can lead to energy losses if not tended to properly.
Windows and Doors
Energy-efficient windows and proper installation, sealing, and insulation can significantly impact your energy efficiency.
We recommend ENERGY STAR® rated windows from Andersen, Marvin, Simonton, and Windsor. Each company offers a wide variety of styles and finishes and has warranties that back up their quality.
Window treatments, curtains, and blinds also influence your windows’ overall energy efficiency.
Also, see our in-depth article Choosing Windows For Your Custom Home.
Heating and Cooling
Now that your future home will be well insulated and properly sealed, an energy-efficient heating and cooling system will perform even better. Properly sizing the heating and cooling system to match the size of your home is important. This allows the system to operate efficiently and to be the most cost-effective.
One area that is frequently overlooked is ductwork. Part of doing it right from the very start includes sealing ducts. Unfortunately, in the hundreds of feet of ductwork in a typical home, there are countless places where air can leak. Air losses here only make your heating and cooling system work that much harder and drives up utility bills.
Sealing the seams of your ductwork prevents air from escaping and improves the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. This reduces energy losses, helps control moisture, and creates a more temperature-stable environment.
Insulating ductwork where it passes through crawl spaces will also increase your heating and cooling efficiency and help control condensation and moisture.
Solar panels are gaining popularity in Northern Michigan. This is due to more efficient panels, favorable tax incentives for homeowners, and cooperation with electric utility companies to buy excess power produced by individual homeowners. If you are considering a solar system, we can work with you and our electricians to ensure that your needs are met.
Selecting the right size water heater that meets your needs is an important decision. Overly large heaters can waste energy and money. Too small can do the same (not to mention being annoying and inconvenient). On-demand or tankless water heaters might be the right choice and can be used with traditional water heaters to provide adequate and timely hot water when and where you need it. We also insulate all hot water pipes to help keep the water warm and reduce energy costs.
Besides heating and cooling, your major appliances, such as refrigerators, ranges, ovens, washers, and dryers, account for most of your utility costs. Look for ENERGY STAR® ratings when selecting these. Don’t forget lightbulbs, home entertainment, and computers either.
Smart Home Features
Technology can help automatically manage your heating, cooling, and lighting costs. For additional information, see our article that discusses Smart Homes in detail.
While not necessarily related to energy efficiency, it is worth considering during the planning stages. For example, suppose a backup generator is desired. In that case, we can ensure that the electric system is designed to accommodate a generator. Even if you don’t install one right away, this can save you time and money should you decide to install one later.
View our portfolio to see examples of some of the finest homes in Northern Michigan.
Are you ready to make your dream home a reality?
Please contact us today to make an appointment to discuss your home-building plans. We’ll be with you every step of the way to guide you to the perfect home.