Energy-Efficient Home Trends in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Don’t leak energy anywhere in your home. There are myriad ways to prevent lost energy and ensure you make good use of the energy you consume. If you’re interested in a sustainable home in West Michigan, we’re excited to provide an overview so that you capture every opportunity to save energy. R Value Homes builds stunning, high-performance homes in greater Grand Rapids and the lakeshore.
What is a High-Performance House?
A high-performance house is an air-tight, well-insulated home with plenty of efficient ventilation. High-performance homes retain the heat inside the home to maintain a consistent temperature. This means a little energy goes a long way, and you aren’t constantly running your heat or air conditioning, keeping your energy consumption as low as possible.
What is ICF?
Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) homes are excellent choices for an energy-efficient home because concrete naturally lends itself to storing and releasing heat over time. Placed outside the insulation of a home, brick and other stonework do not achieve this "flywheel" effect. Furthermore, concrete makes it easy to create an air-tight building envelope. ICF homes are constructed from reinforced concrete in polystyrene forms, a process that creates extremely well-insulated walls.
Energy-Efficient Home Trends in West Michigan
Many of your best options for eco-friendly home design are best realized during construction. You can easily and inexpensively build many things when your walls are under construction, but these same projects involve demolition and serious labor to access the areas needed to include these items in an existing house. That said, it’s still worthwhile to address energy efficiency in an older home, though your options are more limited in scope and effect.
Solar-Ready New Construction
A solar-powered home produces its own energy via solar panels. A home is solar-ready if it has wiring pre-run for future solar panels, and there is space allotted for solar panels to be installed; both on the roof and in the breaker panel. All R-Value homes come solar-ready, and many are pre-wired for EV charging as well. As with any wiring project, this is easier and more elegant to accomplish during construction rather than retrofitting an older home.
From your heat to your stove, and even your clothes dryer, we recommend all-electric units for a few reasons. Aside from mounting health concerns with combustion, any home that generates its own energy produces electricity. Adding appliances that require gas introduces an energy demand you can’t supply with solar panels!
Electric Vehicle Charger
More vehicles run on electricity than ever before, which appears will be true for the foreseeable future. Adding a home EV charging station is a hassle in the future but a snap during construction.
Passive Solar Heat
You can’t pick your home up and reposition it. Passive solar homes are designed to capture and use heat from the sun. While technically free to implement, passive solar does require plenty of forethought. This involves strategically designing a home’s orientation to the sun; layout, doors, windows, finishing materials, and more.
Air-Tight Building Envelope
Traditional homes have countless cracks and leaks that exchange indoor and outdoor air. Eliminating these cracks not only conserves energy but alleviates any health problems you may experience when your primary source of fresh air comes through your musty old attic or crawl space. Air-tight buildings source their fresh air from healthy locations, and balanced ventilation creates more precise and efficient control of the air, temperature, and humidity in your home.
The right amount of insulation in the right location is a critical feature of an energy-efficient home. R-Value homes are all built with uninterrupted insulation, under the entire slab, up the entire wall, and across the entire roof. No breaks or gaps for studs, headers, etc. This is a critical step in closing your building envelope. Adding extra insulation during construction is far easier than figuring out how to add it later.
Triple pane Doors and Windows
Though you can (and should) replace your existing doors and windows if they aren’t energy-efficient, building a home with Energy Star windows and doors is far easier. High-performance homes take this one step further by installing triple pane windows and doors, and thoughtfully sizing and positioning them to maximize efficiency and comfort.
Hear us out. One of the smartest things energy-conscious homeowners can do is ensure they aren’t building more home than they need. Why pay to condition (heat, cool, dehumidify, vent, filter) and maintain spaces you aren’t going to use?
Energy-Efficient Appliances and Fixtures
Specifying top of the line HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning), appliances, lighting, plumbing, and more just makes sense. Being energy-efficient doesn’t mean living an austere life. Quite the opposite in fact! There are exciting and high-quality energy-efficient options for everything, from major appliances down to lighting fixtures. Choosing energy-efficient appliances and fixtures is a simple way to reduce your energy consumption without changing your routine.
Energy-Efficiency: Cost Up Front vs. Cost Savings
You’ll pay a little more upfront for some of the energy-efficient features and modifications we have suggested. However, recent provisions for energy-efficient homes and construction included in the Inflation Reduction Act have made these features more affordable than ever before, and they’re set to stay in place for at least the next decade. Because you could pay as much as 10 percent more for a high-efficiency home, your primary goal must be cost of ownership, not cost to build.
That said, there are significant cost savings to celebrate. Many of our homeowners report energy bills in the single digits. The savings never stop adding up, for however long a concrete home lasts (that's a looooong time!)
R Value is West Michigan’s Energy Efficiency Authority
We would be delighted to talk to you about how our expertise in ICF in the greater Grand Rapids area can help you realize your energy-efficient custom home dreams. Reach out today to tell us about the new home you’ve got in mind.