Do you have to sacrifice comfort and luxury for energy efficiency?
It’s a common misconception that building an energy-efficient home means dim lights, lukewarm water, hot air in the summer, and cold floors in the winter. With the right guidance, you can create a comfortable, practical, and unique living space without going overboard on electricity. And if you build in the South Bay, you’ll have to meet both California and LA County code requirements.
(A quick Cali-history lesson: Our state implemented stricter policies in the 1970s, in response to national energy crises. According to a 2019 report from the Natural Resources Defence Council, the US would have emitted almost 25-percent fewer greenhouse gases, from 1975-2016, if every state had followed California’s policy lead.)
Not only will energy-efficient options enhance your home, they’ll be easier on the environment, and your pocketbook in the long run.
5 simple tips for an energy-efficient home
Forty cities in California already ban natural gas appliances. We recommend choosing electric appliances and heating. That way, if South Bay cities follow suit, you’ll already be in compliance. (Many of these cities allow exceptions for fireplaces.)
It’s not impossible to retrofit an older home with energy-efficient options. If you spend more than $200,000 on a renovation in California, you have to ensure that the home is brought up to current green building standards.
Making smart decisions in the design of a new home is easier than you might think. Whether you’re crafting a second home that will only be used for vacations or a family home for year-round living, here are five key things to consider:
Incandescent lighting is not only thirsty for power, it generates heat. Compared to modern LED and CFL (Compact Fluorescent) bulbs, it’s an energy-consumptive choice. (It’s also illegal to sell incandescent bulbs in California, where building codes require high-efficiency lighting.)
LED and CFL bulbs and fixtures have improved vastly over the years. They can generate a yellow glow (often described as warm or soft white), or a cooler shine (often described as bright white or daylight). They keep your house cooler when it’s hot and warm and welcoming in the winter.
It makes sense when you’ve purchased a new home on the coast, to take your view into consideration. But you should also consider the orientation of your home, because it changes the way natural elements like the sun and wind impact energy consumption.
You want to maximize sun exposure in the winter months with passive solar, and minimize it during the summer. You don’t have to give up your view…but ask your builder to suggest the best angle for your home based on their knowledge of the climate.
We’ve come a long way from simply pouring sawdust into the walls of your home for protection from the elements.
Whether your builder chooses a combination of concrete forms, blown-in or foam panels, mineral wool or double-thickness walls, different applications of insulation can be used for:
Moisture and mold control.
It’s one of the least glamorous aspects of designing your home, but make sure to ask your design/build team about all the options. And remember, it won’t necessarily be a one-size-fits-all solution for every floor of your home. How you insulate your basement may differ from how you insulate your third floor.
4. Go tankless.
Just like insulation, water heating options have improved considerably over the years.
Tankless water heaters are more expensive upfront compared to a traditional hot water tank. However, with the right installation and proper maintenance, they last longer and deliver hot water more quickly and efficiently, while using far less power.
You’ll be reducing waste, as well. How many times have you turned on your faucet and watched the water go down the drain before it was hot enough to wash your dishes or your hands?
As a side benefit, tankless water heaters can be installed under your kitchen sink or in your bathroom vanity, so they won’t take up valuable space in your basement or garage, giving you more living space.
And, you can install more than one, so you’re not competing with the dishwasher for hot water when you want to shower or have family staying in the guestroom.
5. Install an EV Charging Station.
California leads the nation in electric and hybrid cars per capita. “Filling the tank” or rather, fully charging the battery, of an electric car costs about $10, versus the roughly $30 it costs to fill up an average sedan.
If you own or plan to purchase an electric car, you’ll save money and time by installing your own charging station during construction.
Of course, you always want a design-build team that’s striving to create the home that suits your tastes and answers to your priorities.
We know that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort and luxury to own an energy-efficient home. We want to help you make the best choices for your family now, as well as for your family’s future.
If you are thinking about building your dream beach getaway, contact us so we can learn what our team can do for you!
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