Can You Afford an Ultra-Efficient Home?

by Linda Palmer 06/27/2021


Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

An ultra-efficient home is one that's designed and constructed not only to save you energy but provide its own. This means it uses no more renewable energy that it generates. To the novice homeowner, this may sound impossible. However, to the architects and engineers who specialize in designing this type of abode, it's all in a day's work.

How Can a House Be Its Own Energy Source?

Using a whole-house systems approach, architects use materials that are designed to harness and trap energy from the sun. Homeowners then use this energy to heat the water and air inside the home. It takes careful planning to design and build an ultra-efficient house, and the costs of construction usually reflect this. However, once built, this type of structure uses little in the way of traditional energy, and utility bills may even be nonexistent.

To provide its own energy, a home must feature south-facing windows and unobscured access to the sun. As the sun rises throughout the day, it shines into the windows and is collected by materials inside the home - usually a wall made of masonry or a tiled floor. Heat is stored in these materials according to their thermal mass. As the sun goes down and the day cools, heat stored in the thermal mass keeps temperatures inside the home comfortable.

There are controls in place to prevent the home from overheating. Usually they comprise window awnings, blinds or landscaping that limits the amount of sunlight that's allowed to enter during the hottest hours of the day.

What Types of Materials Are Used in Ultra-Efficient Homes?

Builders who construct ultra-efficient homes use materials that are functional for collecting and storing heat as opposed to ones that are simply attractive. These include:

  • Glazed glass

  • Brick

  • Recycled Steel

  • Spray foam insulation

  • Radiant barrier sheathing

  • Concrete

Most materials used in the construction of your ultra-efficient home will serve a purpose while looking beautiful and modern. They're filled with natural light and rich finishes that lend themselves well to heat absorption. The temperature and humidity inside the home is always comfortable, and if you have a utility bill, it won't fluctuate with the seasons.

What Does It Cost to Build an Ultra-Efficient Home?

It may cost as much as 7 percent more to build an ultra-efficient home as opposed to a more traditional design. However, you'll usually recoup that extra investment in under 10 years. By using energy-efficient materials, appliances and building techniques, the day-to-day costs of home operation are greatly reduced. As a result, the money you would usually spend on heating and cooling can begin going back into your savings account from the day you move in.

Can you afford to build an ultra-efficient home? The answer to this question may surprise you. There are several government grants and programs designed to encourage homeowners to build or upgrade to energy-efficient homes, according to Energy.gov. Some come as annual tax credits. Others are available as grants or as Energy-Efficient Mortgages (EEMs). Make sure to look into these options if you're interested in an ultra-efficient home.

About the Author
Author

Linda Palmer

Hello and thank you for visiting! It is my goal as your real estate agent to provide you with superior service at all times. My local expertise in Bluffton, Sun City and Hilton Head, coupled with my extensive real estate experience, will benefit you – whether you are serious about buying or selling a home, or are a returning client checking out the many homeowner resources I offer. My goal for all my clients is for them to experience a fast, fair and hassle free real estate transaction.