When planning your Northern Michigan custom home, energy efficiency is a special consideration especially with the harsh winters that we often experience.
One of the best things about building a new custom home is that it allows you to get things right from the very start. This is the perfect opportunity to make sure all the things that you wish were different in your current home are done right when planning and building your new home.
Home Layout and the Sun
When designing your home, keep in mind how the sun will track across the property through the course of 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 be using solar panels, and will they have adequate direct sunshine?
Trees and landscaping can help or hinder. Shade is typically welcome but sometimes trees can also block out 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 during the summer. 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 there are many brands and types of insulation available, the most important factor is their proper use and installation based on your actual blueprint and design. We discuss this with each prospective customer so that we can offer the absolute best outcome.
Regardless of the insulation type, Lakeshore Custom Homes always follows the manufacturers guidelines and instructions to assure 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 and materials to be sealed along with any additional flashings or fittings.
We are especially attentive to seal and insulate where the sill plate, band board, and floor joists meet as these can lead to energy losses if not tended to properly.
Windows and Doors
Energy efficient windows along with proper installation, sealing and insulation can make a huge impact on 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 have warranties that back up their quality.
Window treatments, curtains and blinds also influence the overall energy efficiency of your windows too.
Also see our in-depth article Choosing Windows For Your Custom Home.
Heating and Cooling
Now that your future home is going to 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 most cost effective.
One area that is frequently overlooked is the ductwork. Part of doing it right from the very start includes sealing ducts. In the hundreds of feet of ductwork in a typical home, there are countless places that air can leak. Air losses here only makes 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 make certain 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 heaters might be the right choice and can be used in conjunction with traditional water heaters to provide adequate and timely hot water when and where you need it.
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. If a backup generator is desired, we can make sure 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.
Are you ready to make your lake house dream a reality? Contact us today to make an appointment to discuss your home building plans.