You probably know all about the best ways to keep your home energy efficient, such as adjusting your thermostat a few degrees, washing clothes in cold water, and implementing timers on the commonly used outlets. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about all of the things you can do when designing your dream home to ensure it is has an energy efficient house plan. By keeping these structural design concepts in mind during the planning and building stages, you will save big in electric costs once you move in.
1. Use Natural Light to Your Advantage
The sun is the greatest provider of light, and it is free to use, so make sure your house plans capitalize on it. Try to create spaces that allow the sun to flow from the windows into the main living areas. Avoid walls in places that block off the key rooms in your home from receiving the sunlight. In the winter, letting in the sun can also be a great way to increase the temperature of your home and reduce the need for the furnace. However, you will want to skip the skylight. As nice as the natural overhead lighting can be, skylights actually increase your heating and cooling costs because they offer no insulation.
2. Consider an Open Floor Plan
One of the greatest options for an energy efficient house plan is to choose an open floor plan. When there are fewer walls in the main living areas, the air has an easier time circulating, which means your HVAC system will have a simpler time keeping the temperature consistent. On the contrary, closed-off rooms tend to get warm and stuffy easily, and you will have to use ceiling fans or turn up the air conditioning to make them comfortable. Open floor plans also make it easier for the natural light of the sun and the fresh, cool air to make its way through your home.
3. Be Okay with a Lower Square Footage
While it can be tempting to design a dream home with much more space than you need, you will also have to pay to heat and cool all of that space. To achieve an energy efficient house plan, try to evaluate how much square footage your family will actually use—and keep in mind how often you entertain and how many people are there. By keeping the square footage more manageable (while still making sure you have enough for your needs), you will enjoy much lower energy costs that can save you a substantial amount of money over the years.
4. Keep Rooflines Simple
You may think only aesthetics are involved when choosing a roof style for your house plan, but there is also the function side to keep in mind. As amazing as elaborate rooflines look from the outside, they can be a challenge for the HVAC system. The more space there is to fill, and the more peaks there are in the roof, the harder the HVAC system has to work. You are basically paying a decent amount of money each month to keep the pockets of the ceiling the ideal temperature. Instead, choose slightly higher ceilings in the inside to give the feel of a more expansive space, but make sure they stay a similar height throughout the home.
5. Build Up Instead of Out
When comparing a sprawled out single story versus a more compact multi-floor home, the multilevel home will win be the more energy efficient house plans every time. Even if the square footage is the same, there is more insulation between levels. In other words, if you heat the lower floor, it will naturally spread to the upper floor without any effort on your part. But in a single level home, you have to pay to heat the entire space.
6. Install Separate HVAC Systems for Each Floor
If you do opt for the more efficient multi-story home, make sure you incorporate two separate HVAC systems into the plans: one for each floor. That way, you only have to pay for the floor you inhabit at the time. For example, during the day, when you are downstairs, you can keep the upstairs HVAC system off or on very low. At night, while you are upstairs sleeping, you can turn off the downstairs system instead of paying to keep the whole home a comfortable temperature. While the cost may be more upfront, the long-term savings will be far greater. If you opt for programmable thermostats, you can save even more.
7. Choose Amenities Wisely
When designing your house plans, only opt for the features you will actually use. If you end up selecting items just because they are offered, they can cost you in efficiency. For example, fireplaces are very common in house plans, but if you don’t think you are going to use it very often, don’t add it to your home. The same goes for other items like a soaking tub or a built-in desk. These items take up space that you will be paying to keep warm or cool—space that could go towards something you will use.
8. Eliminate Wasted Space
Pay close attention to the layout of the home plan you select and try to choose one that doesn’t have enormous areas that are never occupied. Again, you are paying for the energy to heat or cool all of the space. Do you really need an oversized foyer? Will your kids use an entire walk-in closet? Make sure the floor plan you choose is as functional as it is beautiful.
Choosing a house plan is very exciting. It means your dream home will soon be a reality. As long as you make sure to keep these tips in mind when selecting your floor plan, you will be sure to be happy with your home for many, many years. After all, the last thing you want is a dream home that costs a small fortune to keep comfortable.
Guest Author Bio: Tim Dugan writes for DFD House Plans, a website that offers consumers and homebuilders the most innovative and best-selling collection of house plans available, direct from the designers themselves.