Energy-Efficient Custom Home: Upgrades

energy saving home

We get a lot of questions from our customers about energy-efficient custom homes. And the truth is that building a custom home to be energy-efficient seems to be the way to go these days. We know what you’re thinking, “energy-efficient home upgrades are always more expensive than regular options.” Although that’s partly true, building or renovating your house to be eco-friendly is a long-term investment. So, yes, you might be spending more money on upgrades, labour, and materials. But the return on your investment is worth it.

And on the plus side, you’re not just reducing your hydro bills. You’re also helping the planet. Win-win for everyone!

Browsing Energy-Efficient Custom Homes? Consider this!

Although some options are obvious, a lot of Canadian homeowners aren’t aware of the steps they can take to save energy. Take a look at the following.

1. Heating Systems for Custom Homes

Living in a country that typically sees more cold months than warm ones throughout the year, a good in-home heating system is essential for survival. While there are several warming options available to homeowners, the two most common forms of household heating are forced air heating and radiant heating.

We have narrowed down the advantages and disadvantages of both types of heating. Continue reading to find out how upgrading your heating system can save energy in your home.

  • What Is Forced Air Heating?

Forced air heating is the method of warming a room by blowing heated air directly into the area. In most homes, a furnace and duct system are used to blow the heated air through strategically placed floor or ceiling vents. Forced air heaters can also come in the form of wall-mounted and baseboard heating units.

Pros of Forced Air Heating
forced air furnace with plastic pipes

Forced air furnace with plastic pipes

Blowing heating methods promote air circulation throughout the home as the air travels from one location to another. As a result, you have to turn on your heating for a short while since the hot air circulates a lot faster throughout your house. Less operation time, cheaper gas bill.

You can also upgrade your forced air furnace by using the right material. Pictured on the right is a forced air furnace with plastic pipes, not metal. Plastic pipes make the furnace convenient for low-waste gases, making them safer and more eco-friendly.

Cons of Forced Air
  1. Because the air is forced from a designated location, heating is not balanced. As you move further away from the heating vent, the room gets gradually colder.
  2. Another drawback to forced air is that it blows allergens around your home, making the whole environment uncomfortable for those with allergies.
  3. Forced air can be expensive. Forced air also costs a lot to maintain. Furnaces, duct, and venting systems are pricey, especially if all or part of the unit needs replacing.
  4. Because forced air systems use ducts, vents, and other tubing to move the air throughout the home, the venting system is installed everywhere throughout the building. Colder basements and attics can cool the air as it travels through, reducing the amount of heated air passing through the vents.
  • What Is Radiant Heating?

Radiant heating methods use coils, panels, or pipes to radiate heat throughout a room. Heating panels are commonly installed in floors, walls, and ceilings. There are two types of radiant heating systems: Electric and Hydronic.

Underfloor heating system

Underfloor heating pipes

Pros of Radiant Heating

  1. Because the heat is distributed through panels and not through one centralized area, heat is evenly spread out in the rooms.
  2. Radiant heating is better for your health because it does not blow allergens through the air.
  3. Because the heat does not travel through air ducts, there is no heat loss with radiant heating.

When it comes to energy-efficient home upgrades, we recommend hydronic radiant heating. Because this type relies on hot water, it saves up to 30% more energy than radiant heating that relies on steam or gas.

Problems with Radiant Heating

Homeowners who install radiant heating in their house have problems with genuine wood floor panels. The heat will crack and warp the panels over time because warm air dries out wood.

Moreover, heat distributed through radiation takes longer to travel through a room. This means that you might have to turn your heating in advance if you are using an energy saving thermostat. Additional heaters may be necessary for areas that are remote from heating panels.

If you’re renovating your property or building a custom home, it might be difficult to choose the right type of heating system. It’s good to know about the benefits and drawbacks of each system regardless. However, to avoid long-term damage, contact professional custom home builders to determine the most suitable heat system for your house.

2. Windows & Doors for Energy Efficient Custom Homes

When it comes to window and door upgrades, the options are truly endless! Carefully selected windows and doors can reduce energy consumption and improve their efficiency. You can also replace your older windows and doors and install ones that are energy-efficient from the get-go.

Make Your Existing Windows and Doors Energy-Efficient

According to the US Department of Energy, there are many changes you can make to your current windows to save energy.

  • Check your windows and doors for air leaks
  • Use weatherstripping tools such as caulking and sealing the window and door frames
  • Add panels and storm windows
  • Install a solar control film

It goes without saying that making the most out of window and door upgrades requires proper installation. So make sure you hire an expert window specialist to install them for you.

Energy Saving Windows

For the specific purpose of making windows and doors in your custom home energy-efficient, consider this:

  1. The window frame type
  2. The type of window glazing
  3. Gas fills and spacers
  4. The way the window operates
  5. Door material and insulation

In addition to these features, look for windows that are energy-efficient certified. For example, an ENERGY STAR label attests that a window complies with energy-saving guidelines.

Energy-Efficient Window Features

  • U-Factor

The U-factor of a window indicates its level of insulation. Energy-efficient windows usually have a U-factor of 0.25 to 1.25 thermal units/hour based on the window’s square footage. And the lower the U-factor, the more insulating the window is.

  • Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)

This element is concerned with blocking sunlight. SHGC is important for the summer because you want your house to maintain its cool temperature for a long time.

  • Air Leakage (AL)

Air Leakage indicates the amount of air that passes through the joints of the window. The lower the Air Leakage level, the less air that seeps in and out of the house through the windows.

  • Visible Transmittance (VT)

Visible Transmittance refers to how much natural light your windows allow. The higher the VT, the more natural light you get into your home.

  • Condensation Resistance

Condensation Resistance is a measure of how well the window resists water build-up. It ranges from 1 to 100. And the higher the number, the less buildup the window allows.

Window Materials for Saving Energy

When it comes to materials, there are many things to consider. First, you have to think about the window frames. Then, you have the window panes. For the most part, the most efficient window materials are:

  1. Wood
  2. Fibreglass
  3. Vinyl

These materials used in windows are also fortified with insulating and weatherstripping technologies, such as foam, caulking, and silicone sealants.custom home windows

With all these factors in mind, you should be able to choose the best type of window for energy savings. If you’re unclear about your best choice of window, reach out to a professional.

FAQ about Energy-Efficient Custom Homes

  • Why is window condensation bad?
    Condensation on windows isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s simply buildup from fluctuations in temperature that usually occurs when the inside of the house is warmer than the outside.
  • How much money can I save on energy-efficient upgrades?
    With proper installation, you can save up to $200 per year in your hydro bills. Needless to say, you make your home a lot more comfortable and your heating system a lot more efficient.
  • What is a home energy score?
    A home energy score measures how much energy a house consumes and gives insight on energy-related costs. It also provides recommendations on how to make your home more energy-efficient.

Curious about Energy-Efficient Custom Homes?

You’re on the right track! Enjoy the benefits of an energy-efficient home and start your renovation towards a more environmentally-conscious living. Small upgrades can make big differences. And the benefits aren’t restricted to your comfort and energy costs. You’re helping the environment by making simple changes in your property. It’s worth considering! If you are looking for a carefully designed energy efficient custom home, contact Black Pearl Custom Homes! Our experience and knowledge will help you avoid expensive mistakes and get a perfect home within the scheduled timeline.