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How Design & Planning Saves Money on Utilities

We all think about our dream home. Maybe it’s during the traffic-heavy commute home from work or trying to fall asleep after a long day that we plan our basement. But, unfortunately, many of us settle this dream as a figment of our imagination, not something that can come to life. It can be even more complex if you are wanting to design an energy-efficient home, but with proper design and planning with PSE, it doesn’t have to be a difficult process.

Every dream house begins with a concept. The design and planning stage is crucial in initiating the framework you want your home to work within. You have total creative freedom during this stage. But with great power comes responsibilities such as finances. Read on how to save money on utilities while planning your dream home. 

Design Considerations for Energy-Efficiency

Design a floor plan, writing down or sketching all your ideas of what you want your home to include and look like. If you want to save money on utilities, you’ll have to think about design considerations in multiple areas:

  • Shape and placement of the home. Use the site your home will be placed on to your advantage. South-and north-facing windows will help heat your home using the warmth of the sun in the winter, while shading those same windows can reduce cooling costs in the summer.
  • Windows. Windows and doors can let out a significant amount of heat from your home unless they are properly insulated. U-value is the rate of heat transfer expressed as a decimal from 0-1, and a lower number means less heat is lost. A single pane of glass is around U-1.0, and a triple-glazed window would be U-.20. Fewer, larger windows will also insulate your home better than many small windows.
  • Insulation. While there is typically a minimal R-value (thermal resistance) required by local and building codes, you may want to choose thicker insulation than what is recommended to save extra money on utilities. A higher R-value will help keep your home comfortable throughout the changing seasons, so work with your home designer and engineer to determine what your home needs.
  • Solar panels. While there is an upfront investment to solar panels, they are one of the most energy-efficient options you can add to your home if you want to save on utilities. Once installed, they will provide energy to your home using the sun’s natural energy.
  • Energy assessments. An energy assessor can determine where you are losing valuable energy in your house and provide recommendations for improving energy-efficiency.
  • Sources for heating and cooling. Choosing Energy Star appliances will help you conserve energy, from your stoves and dishwasher to the air conditioner in your home. The type of water heater or heat pump you use is also very important to reducing costs on energy.

It’s always better to come to a designer or engineer with an idea of what you want so it makes it easier to execute that vision, and then we can expand on your ideas to give you something truly amazing.

Decide on Building Materials

It may be time to ditch the lumber. Although lumber prices have skyrocketed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, lumber’s supply cannot meet the demand. Luckily, new technology allows us to construct homes with more robust materials that can be cost-friendlier than lumber.

Insulated concrete forms and light gauge steel are both suitable options for replacing lumber. Insulated concrete forms result in a building that cost less to heat and cool over the life of the building, due to superior insulation properties. Likewise, light gauge steel is durable, recyclable and energy-efficient. However, shipping containers also meet the criteria when it comes to saving money on utilities. Sustainable and durable shipping containers make the possibilities endless for designing your dream home. In addition, their strength and low maintenance ensure they will sustain the elements for years to come. Straw bale, rammed earth and bamboo are all renewable resources that great options for sustainable building.

Make Your Sustainable Building Project a Reality

Our goal at PSE Consulting Engineers is to help you make your sustainable building project a reality by utilizing existing and emerging technologies to create solutions for beautiful and safe structures. By using ICF engineering, SIPs, earthbag, bamboo, structural fabrics, and more, we can help you create a home that not only aligns with your vision but is good for the environment, too (not to mention that more sustainable materials save you money on your utilities).

Want to save money on utilities while planning for your dream home? Contact PSE Consulting Engineers today to learn more!