These days, energy efficiency tops most homebuyers’ priorities lists. New home builders are finding all kinds of ways to meet that demand, which is contributing to both reduced carbon footprints for modern housing and lower monthly utility bills for homeowners. Contractors who are just now catching on to the potential opportunities offered by modern society’s desire to “go green” can read on to find out about energy-efficient home build must-haves that will raise property values and draw in new buyers.

Effective Heating and Cooling Systems

Today’s home heating and cooling systems account for nearly half of residential energy use. Contractors should prioritize high SEER ratings for central air systems, as they can be a major selling point for today’s energy-conscious buyers. Contractors can find AC prices in their areas online and find a local HVAC partner who can help with designing the most efficient and effective heating and cooling systems.

Continuous Insulation Across the Building Envelope

Even the most effective and efficient HVAC system won’t be able to operate at peak performance if the home has air gaps and thermal bridges everywhere. Making sure that the building envelope is fully sealed and has continuous insulation running across its entire surface can significantly reduce a home’s carbon footprint by preventing unnecessary thermal transfer. Today’s builders are also focused on installing high-quality insulation that exceeds building code R-value requirements.

Proper Room Orientation

Known to experts as passive solar design, proper room orientation is one of the best ways to minimize the need for artificial lighting and temperature control. In the northern hemisphere, homes should be oriented toward the south to maximize winter sun exposure. The placement of rooms within the home should also be informed by the sun’s position throughout the day. 

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East-facing rooms tend to get sun in the morning and stay cooler in the afternoon, making them perfect for bedrooms. South-facing rooms are well-lit throughout most of the day and make good primary living spaces like family and dining rooms. North-facing rooms get the least sun, so they’re best used for storage, laundry rooms, bathrooms, and other comparatively low-use areas.

A Cool Roof

Keeping attics cool in the summer is difficult under the best of circumstances. When homes are outfitted with asphalt shingle roofs, which have very high thermal mass, it becomes even harder. The dark-colored, heavy shingles absorb the heat from the sun and transfer it to the interior of the home.

Cool roofs are made with low-thermal-mass materials and are painted with reflective pigments. For sloped roofs, slate, clay, and ceramic are good options. For flat rooftops, a living roof can be an even more ecologically friendly solution. Although it takes a good deal of extra work to install and maintain a green roof, turf covers and rooftop gardens will keep the home cool in the summer, absorb stormwater runoff, and provide significant added value to eco-conscious buyers.

What About Energy Star Certification?

Energy Star’s whole-home certification program is incredibly comprehensive. Some contractors love it because it allows them to charge premium prices for new homes. Others find that getting certified is too time-consuming even if the home already meets all of the eligibility requirements. 

Most buyers will be just as happy with Energy Star-certified appliances and reassurances of material and workmanship quality across the project. The decision to go for full certification is one best left to individual contractors.

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