Think building an energy-efficient home requires a higher budget? Not necessarily, according to panelists at a recent International Builders’ Show session, who told attendees that better-performing houses can actually improve a builder’s bottom line.
Energy-conscious construction doesn’t need to break the bank and many builders can make a significant dent in their homes’ performance by going back to basics rather than focusing on maxing out whiz-bang gadgetry, Ed Hauck of Builder Partnerships in Littleton, Colo., told the audience of “Building an Energy Efficient Home on a Budget” at the Las Vegas event today. What’s more, builders can capitalize on energy efficiency features to better market their homes to grow their bottom line, said co-panelist Vernon McKown of Ideal Homes in Norman, Okla. Hauck and McKown were joined by Michael Gestwick of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Speaking from a builder’s perspective, Hauck, who specializes in cost-effective homes, recommended a number of basic strategies. “Go back to design basics,” he said. Creating a cost-effective box at the start can allow a builder to invest more of the budget into energy-efficiency measures. Before beginning a project, calculate the target square footage to remain profitable, and keep this size in mind as you progress through a project.
Be detailed in your specifications. “I tell my architects what products I want in the house,” Hauck says. “If you let someone else start specifying what you’re putting in a house, they’re spending your money for you and that’s not necessarily a good thing.” Other cost-based strategies recommended by Hauck include:
- Watch your overall percentage of glazing on exterior walls. Think about how heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer will affect energy loads, and question whether a big bank of windows can be redesigned to reduce loads. Consider whether or not people will be put curtains on a window span, such as a large-scale window wall surrounding a front entryway.
Identifying specific design details to consider as a means of easily improving energy efficiency, Hauck suggested the following:
- Caulk all penetrations to avoid air leakage. “You can’t believe how many penetrations you have,” Hauck said. Even if you think you are doing a good job, walk through a building and check.