Building an Energy Efficient Custom Home - featured image

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

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.

Ductwork

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 Electric

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.

Water Heaters

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.

Household Appliances

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.

Backup Generators

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.

Choosing the Right Roofing Material For Your Northern Michigan Custom Home - featured image

When building a custom home in Northern Michigan, you’re faced with selecting from many roofing options. Style matters but so does selecting the right roofing materials that will protect your investment.

Beyond materials alone, the proper usage of the material along with appropriate design is critical. We always discuss with our clients the different options in both design and materials so that you can rest easy knowing you made the right choice.

Our climate presents challenges and selecting materials that can hold up to and protect your home from harsh winters, heat, direct sunlight, and moisture is an important decision. Luckily there are many options for a roof that is both attractive and protective.

Roofing Materials for Northern Michigan

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most popular choice due to lower initial cost and are available in a wide array of colors. Asphalt shingles are versatile and work well with complicated rooflines. In the extreme weather conditions that Northern Michigan poses, the average lifespan of asphalt shingles is 15-20 years.  Some manufacturers offer premium grades that can extend the lifespan.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs not only come in a variety of colors, but also a variety of appearances. Metal roofs often look like other materials. While standing ridge roofs are common, you can also choose from shake, shingles, slate, or even classic Mediterranean tile.

Metal roofs are a popular choice in Northern Michigan. They tend to be better at shedding snow, leaves, and pine needles than traditional asphalt or fiberglass shingles.

Metal roofs are actually lighter in weight than many other materials. This means there is less total weight on your roofing trusses. This is beneficial considering Northern Michigan’s snowfall. Of course, all of our homes are built to withstand heavy snow loads. Snow shields help prevent large sections of snow from falling like an avalanche and are strategically placed to protect walkways and doorways.

Metal roofs are also energy efficient and can help reduce heating and cooling costs. Another big plus in Northern Michigan!

Metal roofs do have a few downsides. They can be noisier in rainstorms although insulation helps make this less noticeable. While their initial cost is higher, the long-term or total cost of ownership is often lower than other roofing choices.

Slate or Concrete Tile Roofing

Slate and concrete tile makes for a gorgeous roof but, is considerably heavier than metal or asphalt shingle roofing. This means that the extra reinforcement is necessary to accommodate the added weight of our Northern Michigan snowfalls. Durability is excellent but costs tend to run higher than other choices.

Roof Care and Maintenance

No matter what material you choose, all roofs need care and maintenance. Cleaning gutters, removing any tree branches or debris, and inspecting flashing should be done annually to prevent problems.

Factors that affect roofing material choices and longevity include:

  • Roof pitch; steeper pitches tend to shed rain, snow and debris better prolonging the lifespan of the roofing material. Complicated pitches and gables can add to material and labor costs as well.
  • Surrounding environmental factors like the amount of direct sunlight or shade, nearby trees that can shed leaves or pine needles or other debris. Mold, moss, and algae can affect the integrity of your roof as well.
  • A well-designed roof includes proper insulation and ventilation so that icicles and ice dams are mitigated.

Lakeshore Custom Homes will consult with you and help you make an educated decision. We can guide you through the multitude of choices and help you choose the best options based on your home design, site selection, budget, as well as local factors.  We are committed to providing the best quality construction so you can enjoy your custom home.

5 Ways to Go Green On Your Next Home or Remodel - featured image

Energy efficient homes save homeowners money on their monthly utility bills, while improving the home’s overall comfort by reducing drafty spots and extreme temperatures. When considering your next home or remodel, here are 5 easy ways to go green and save up to hundreds of dollars each year on energy.

Energy Audits – The very first step to making your home more energy efficient is to hire a professional to perform an assessment of your home’s energy performance. Energy audits identify where your home may be leaking hot and cool air and show you the most cost-effective ways to reduce energy waste in your home.

Insulation – Installing or adding insulation to a home’s walls, floors and attic is typically one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your home’s energy performance.

Air Sealing – Like insulation, air and duct sealing provides a great bang for the buck with respect to its low costs and big energy savings. Air sealing simply involves finding where hot and cool air may be seeping out of holes in walls, ceiling or duct work and sealing them with caulk and weather-stripping.

Upgrade Appliances and Electronics – Most home appliances and electronics use electricity. Thanks to advances in technology, most appliances and electronics now have a high efficiency counterpart. When in the market for a new home or remodel, look for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star label, which indicates that an appliance performs the same type of function for less energy.

Space Heating and Cooling – The energy to heat and cool homes typically accounts for more than half of all energy consumption. Like your home’s appliances, Energy Star has also created high efficiency air conditioners, water heaters and furnaces that can keep your home at optimal temperatures while using significantly less amount of energy.

The team here at Lakeshore Custom Homes would love to help you evaluate the best ways to “Go Green” on your next remodel project or new home. We have built LEED certified homes, and we stay current on the best practices for energy efficient home building. If you have any questions about energy savings and quality home construction or remodeling in northern Michigan. Please give Chris Mason a call at 231-642-0724.