The very best thing about buying your piece of land and building the home of your dreams is that you have complete control over what kind of house you want to build. Every element of your newly-designed home has to planned for, and that means having a lot of long, detailed conversations with your builder to ensure that your home turns out exactly as you want.
For those who are concerned with doing their part to help the climate, or are looking for ways to reduce their energy costs, an energy efficient home build begins long before the foundation is poured on your new construction.
As any architect or builder will tell you, building an energy efficient home means making some tough decisions along the way. Seldom do initial plans for a home build and energy efficiency coincide, so once you begin taking steps toward reduced energy use, you’ll likely have to make some trade-offs in the design of your home. Hopefully, those trade-offs will not discourage you from keeping your home’s energy use as efficient as possible.
Start with the Site
The orientation of your new home has a lot to do with how energy efficient your home can be, and it is one of the first considerations that you need to plan for when designing your home.
When deciding how your home should be situated, consider the four directions and how each one can benefit your home. For example, south-facing windows will provide your home with year-round warmth, which can keep your energy bills way, way down in the winter. Just be sure to have curtains or heat-reducing shades installed on those same windows to protect those rooms from extreme heat buildup in the summertime.
A bedroom situated in the north-facing part of your home will keep the early morning sun from disturbing your rest at 5:30 am, and since there’ll be no southern sun to warm your home at night, you won’t have to worry about your bedroom’s temperatures.
Prep for Solar
Just as you want your home to utilize Earth’s natural energy to naturally warm and cool your home, you will also want your roof to slope south, preferably to the east, so that your solar panels will pull in all that strong Arizona sunshine.
When you consider that some homeowners spend as much as 54% of their energy costs on heating and cooling their homes, investing in solar energy is a no-brainer. Solar energy means that you can use the sun’s rays to heat and cool your home, so choosing the best location and situation for your solar panels is key to ensuring an energy-efficient home.
Invest in Good Windows
Did you know that the bulk of the warm and cool air that is unnecessarily leaving your home is escaping through poorly sealed or thin windows? While it may seem like a window is a window, there are significant advantages to choosing high-quality, U-facto and low-emissivity windows.
Opt for a Natural Heat Pump
Geothermal heating systems are installed in-ground and offer homeowners a natural way to keep their water temperatures perfect every day of the year. Geothermal units include pipes that are installed a few feet below the ground, where temperatures are naturally much warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Water passes through these pipes and becomes naturally warmed and cooled by the ground, and is always the temperature you need it to be.
Though a geothermal system can be retrofitted into an existing home, choosing to install one when you are building a custom home is easier than adding one after you’ve already invested money in a traditional heat pump.
Snag Energy Efficient Lighting
LED lighting is one of the easiest ways to cut back on energy costs. By choosing to install LED lighting fixtures, you can save hundreds of dollars in energy costs and seldom have to replace your bulbs. LED technology is so efficient that most LED lighting will not have to be replaced for 10 to 20 years!
Better still, LED lights are available in a wide range of color temperatures, so you can always select the perfect ambiance for every room of the house, giving your home bright kitchens and warm bedrooms.
Plant Some Shade
You’ve cleared away all that cactus and shrubbery to build your home, so why would you want to plant more green now? Because trees are the greenest way to shade your home, reducing your summer energy costs while simultaneously increasing your property value, providing the world with fresh air, and adding to the natural landscape that makes Arizona.
Want to add another level of benefits? Planting a variety of fruit trees will give your home fruit almost year-round. Spring figs and persimmons, summer plums and peaches, fall apples, and winter citrus fruit trees will grow remarkably well in Southern Arizona, and when they are planted in ideal locations, will also give you plenty of shady coverage and a whole lot of food too.