Energy Efficient Homes

/Energy Efficient Homes

Top 20 Big Ticket Home Improvement Ideas and Their Costs in 2017

By | February 23rd, 2017|Architecture, Decks and Porches, Design, Energy Efficient Homes, Going Solar, Green Living, Home Additions, Home Improvement Costs, Remodeling Ideas|

Spring is just around the corner, which means that now is the perfect time to start planning to tackle your next major home improvement project! 😉 With that being said, here the top 20 big ticket home improvement ideas, plus their costs including materials and professional installation. 1. Building a Garage: Detached vs. Attached There is one important consideration to take into the account: building an attached vs. a detached garage. All things being equal a detached garage will cost more to build vs. an attached one. If you opt for a detached garage, expect to pay between $25,000 and $40,000 for labor and materials. But, on top of that, you may also have to plan additional expenses for plumbing, electrical wiring, and heating, if you want to use the garage for more than just storage purposes. The average cost to build a detached garage is $40 per sq. ft. […]

Top 15 Solar Powered Home Designs, Plus their Costs, and Pros and Cons – Solar Power Ideas

By | December 16th, 2016|Design, Energy Efficient Homes, Going Solar|

Fossil fuel belongs to the past. The third millennium is, or at least can be, focused on alternative energy sources. PV solar power is one of the cheapest and most popular renewable energy sources for homes. Thanks to dramatic reductions in the cost of solar energy on a per watt basis over the last several years, the number of homes outfitted with PV solar panels has increased almost exponentially, especially in parts of the country that enjoy longer sun hour days, such as southern California. Below are just some of the reasons why you may want to consider getting a solar power system for your home: you can greatly reduce or even eliminate your energy bills entirely protect yourself against potentially-increasing energy prices increase property value protect the environment stay off the grid Solar Power System Installation Costs: In terms, of anticipated expenses, PV solar panel cost per watt have decreased from about $8 to $10 range in 2010 to about $4 per watt today. The average solar energy system size in the U.S is approximately 5 kilowatts (kW). Based on the average price of $3.57/watt, a 5kW system would cost $12,500 after tax credits. Below are some average quotes for other, differently-sized solar energy systems by size: 6kW solar energy system cost: $15,000 8kW solar energy system cost: $20,000 10kW solar energy system cost: $25,000 Now, let’s have a look at the top 15 solar powered homes in the US: Gibsonia, Pennsylvania Residence Image via Solar World USA This house has an impressive size and would not be suitable for urban settings. It belongs in the middle of nature surrounded by vegetation. 56 x 275W mono solar panels were installed on the rooftop in  June, 2014. The system provides a total power of 15.4 kW and has SMA America inverters.   The roof was sturdy enough to hold so many panels and the entire job was done with aesthetics in mind. The house is built of wood and combines rough straight lines with round curves. There are plenty of windows and a screened porch to make the connection between the inside and the outdoors. The house was built on a small hill thus having uneven heights. Cannon Beach, Oregon Residence Image via Inhabitat If you are looking for a design that says “these people are off the grid,” you have just found it. You don’t see this everywhere. This design screams uniqueness and it makes you think about those people who enjoy life in the middle of the woods. The curved roof didn’t pose any problems during the installation of the solar panels. The house was built with sustainable materials such as FSC certified wood, fly-ash, and reclaimed timbers. It even has a green roof that provides additional insulation, fire resistance and rainwater absorption. The grass is not very visible from this angle, but you can slightly see some plants on the top roof. The heating system relies on the 5.9kW power of the PV panels, and so does the electrical system of the house. […]

Top 20 Tiny Home Designs and their Costs – Smart Green Living Ideas

By | December 6th, 2016|Architecture, Design, Energy Efficient Homes, Green Home Ideas, Home Designs, House Design, Tiny Houses|

If you don't want or can’t afford a brand spanking new, five bedroom home that occupies 4,000 sq. ft., don’t despair! ;) There’s still a chance for you to live the American dream! Let us present the top 20 professionally designed tiny houses. It’s true that a family of four will probably have some problems [...]

Top 15 Home Energy Efficiency Upgrades and Their Costs

By | September 14th, 2016|Energy Efficient Homes, Green Home Ideas, Remodeling Ideas|

Energy efficiency is not just a trend that people with money follow because it’s cool to be green. No. It’s a real way to reduce your carbon footprint and your monthly costs in the long run. It’s true that big changes like switching to solar energy require significant investments but you will recover and even save money in the upcoming years. Enough talk, let’s see exactly what can be done to make your house more energy efficient. It’s recommended to start with little things and work your way up to the most expensive changes. Maximize the use of natural light Via In Your Kingdom The first thing to do to lower your energy bill is let the light in (obviously). For that purpose, install large windows.  Avoid light blocking treatments and use instead shades that can be opened at will. This way, you get darkness and light whenever you want. Place mirrors on the walls adjacent or opposite to windows. The idea is to have many reflective surfaces that create the illusion of light and spaciousness. Install energy efficient windows Via Clear View Vinyl Windows If you can’t afford buying new windows, you can choose the cheap option even though it’s not as good: make your existing windows more energy efficient. How? Tape a clear plastic sheet on the inside of the window frame to diminish drafts. You could also install insulating window shades that protect against cold drafts and heat waves. If you are more concerned with heat coming in than going out, you could try applying reflective films on south-facing windows. What if you did all these and you are not satisfied with the results? It’s time to replace the windows. It’s important to understand energy performance ratings before making a purchase. An effective south facing window that minimizes heat gain in warm climates should have a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) >0.6, a U-factor <0.35 and a high visible transmittance (VT) for proper transfer of visible light. In temperate climates, windows should have low U-factors and low SHGCs. It’s also important how windows operate because some types offer better air tightness than others. Awning, casement and hopper windows generally have low air leak rates. Fixed windows usually fall under this category as well but they are not suitable for places where ventilation is important. The lowest price for a 36″x72″ single-hung Energy Star rated window is $120, but it can reach as much as $1,200. You also have to consider labor costs that start at $270 per window and can go up to $800. According to Energy Star, the lowest ROI possible for an energy efficient window is 15%. It’s important to note that in many cases it may be necessary to provide a site plan to obtain various home building permits from your city hall or township. You can turn to 24h Plans to get a custom site plan drawing prepared for your dream home in less than 24 hours by our team of experienced architects and drafters. Use the promotion code: 24hplans-20off to get a 20% discount off any package. — Please note this is a limited time offer, exclusive to the readers of our blog. This offer is not being advertised anywhere else. Install energy efficient doors Via Silive – steel door with foam insulation core A significant amount of heat is lost because of poorly insulated doors. The most common energy efficient door has a steel frame with a foam insulation core. If the people who install it know what they’re doing, you don’t need any further weatherstripping. Besides, steel doors are cost effective and very secure. Another option is to choose an energy efficient fiberglass door. The trick is to look for Energy Star labels before making a purchase. Another parameter is the R-value that basically measures the resistance of a certain material to heat conductance. For example, steel and fiberglass-glad doors are rated between R-5 and R-6. Sliding glass doors have higher air leakage rates even though you apply weather stripping methods (they wear off over time anyway). In general, a hinging door is more energy efficient than a sliding one. However, if you must install sliding glass patio doors choose the type with metal frames and a thermal break (a plastic insulator between the exterior and interior parts of the frame). If you live in extreme climates, consider taking a look at models with several layers of glass, low conductivity gases and/or coatings with low emissivity. For an average cost of $3,000 you get a huge ROI of around 80%. Seal air leaks Via GreenWerks Pro There are 2 main directions to follow here: weatherstripping doors & windows and filling gaps in the attic floor. Look for wholes near wires that go through the ceiling below, around chimneys or recessed light fixtures. More importantly, fill in any cracks or gaps that communicate directly with the exterior. It is important to do the air sealing part before insulation because you will not be able to do this step afterward. […]

Top 15 Energy Efficient Homes and Eco-Friendly Home Design Elements – Green DIY Home Design Ideas Illustrated!

By | August 2nd, 2016|Architecture, Energy Efficient Homes, Green Home Ideas, Home Designs, House Design|

Most people don’t think about energy efficiency, Eco-friendliness, or environmental considerations when buying or designing and building the house of their dreams. Perhaps this happens due to a general lack of knowledge and understanding of the many great benefits of green home design, budget worries, or other factors. Regardless, making your house more energy efficient and Eco-friendly can bring us one step further to preserving the beauties of this Earth, while also enjoying some hefty benefits of superior energy efficiency and tangible cost savings from reduced utility bills. 😉 Going green comes with a price, though. Energy efficiency upgrades are not cheap, but you will recover your money in the long-term considering you will no longer be paying electricity bills. We are going to present 15 energy efficient house designs to give you a starting point in your quest for making your home more Eco-friendly and energy efficient! 🙂 If you are planning to design and build your very own Green-inspired, Eco-friendly home, then it’s important to note that in many cases it may be necessary to provide a site plan to obtain various home building permits from your city hall or township. You can turn to 24h Plans to get a custom site plan drawing prepared for your dream home in less than 24 hours by our team of experienced architects and drafters. Use our promotion code: 24hplans-20off to get a 20% discount off any package. — Please note this is a limited time offer, exclusive to the readers of our blog. This offer is not being advertised anywhere else. WaterShed Maryland House Via Inhabitat The purpose of the University of Maryland was to design a house that does not depend on fossil fuels like the majority of houses in the US do. Waste water from the washing machine, dishwasher and shower is recycled and filtered. Moreover, rain water is not wasted because there is a special harvesting system that collects and filters it. There is a liquid desiccant waterfall that not only looks great, but also ensures the right humidity control. PV solar panels provide more electricity than needed, so the excess energy is stored for later use. The house has a high-end system that monitors and controls several parameters to ensure a high level of comfort: temperature, lighting, and humidity level. DesertSol Las Vegas House Via Inhabitat The University of Nevada Las Vegas built an ultra-efficient house that uses solar energy (there’s plenty of that, obviously) and preserves water. It’s named DesertSol because it is designed to withstand desert weather. The 30 PV solar panels generate enough energy to ensure cooling, heating, LED lighting and the well functioning of the common appliances you find in a regular house. Rainwater and humidity is collected to be used for cooling and irrigation. The hydronic radiant floor heating system uses water for heat transfer because it is 20 times more efficient than air. The house was awarded the LEED Platinum certification for green building. The High Sierra Cabin Via House Plans Located in the Sierra Nevada mountains, this house measures 1015 sq. ft. and has 2 bedrooms. One of the main things that makes it energy efficient is the fact that the walls are made of SIPs (structural insulated panels). The costs are about the same as building with wood, so there is no financial reason for not choosing SIPs. They are prefabricated and shipped to be assembled on site.  SIPs are perfect for areas with heavy snowing and strong winds, insulating the interior tightly thus reducing heating costs. Besides, the house has clearstory windows and vent skylights to make the use of as much natural light as possible.  Supposedly, there are also photovoltaic solar panels installed on the ribbed metal roof (not shown from the angle the picture is taken). Notably though, according to, a standing seam metal roof would have been a better choice than a ribber system for the mounting of PV solar panels, given how easy it is to install a PV solar power system over standing seam panels when employing an S-5 bracketing system. — In addition to the panels, there is also a battery storage system (not shown in the picture) hooked to the PV solar power system to enable storage and use of any excess electricity, even during night-time. The Jungle Shelter Via House Plans Here’s a smaller house of only 384 sq. ft. and 1 bedroom. The plan costs a bit over $1,200. Designed to resist in tropical climates with frequent rains and high levels of humidity, the exterior walls are made of studs with spray foam insulation while the roof has 6-inch thick rigid foam board insulation. The house has a rainwater harvesting system that allows you to use it on-site. The roof is not suitable for photovoltaic panels, but you can install them on a separate pole. Y Container China House Via Open Buildings This is a Y-shaped solar house made of 6 shipping containers, hence its name: the Y container. This shape allows residents to view the varying landscapes in different yard sections. The hot water and floor heating systems use the heat that comes from the solar thermal collector. Heat transfer is blocked through phase change and vacuum insulation materials. Fresh air supply is ensured without extra electricity consumption through a natural ventilation tunnel located in the center of the house. The design belongs to the Chinese at Tongji University who participated at the Solar Decathlon in 2011. […]