The Diary of an ENERGY STAR Home Series follows the progress of a High Performance Luxury home under construction and a family's journey to build their dream home.
The well-known saying goes "the devil is in the detail"… so true when it comes to building an ENERGY STAR home. Amongst the hundreds of details that go in to building an ENERGY STAR home, none are more important that the integrity of the shell of the home and the proper design of the HVAC system.
The Shell of The Home
Think of your home as a six sided cube with north, south, east and west walls (don’t forget your foundation walls), a roof, and your basement floor. That cube needs to be made as air tight as possible on all six sides in order to result in a more energy efficient, comfortable, and healthier ENERGY STAR home.
We often use the saying "build it tight, ventilate it right". That is to say that the home should be built as tight as possible using modern house science principals, and then it must be mechanically ventilated, heated, and cooled in the proper manner.
When this is done properly (MUCH harder than it sounds), a home is more comfortable to live in with less hot spots, less cold spots, less drafty areas, more consistent temperatures from room to room and floor to floor. True luxury is not achieved until and unless both what’s in front of the drywall (millwork, cabinetry, flooring, etc) AND what’s behind the drywall (a superior shell of the home described above) are properly addressed.
Here are a few photos of one of our latest ENERGY STAR homes during the most critical stage of construction - the insulation and air sealing stage just before drywall:
Basement floor before the concrete has been installed. Shows vertical and horizontal insulation required by ENERGY STAR to prevent frost from getting under the basement floor.
Spray foaming of the banboards of the home which are where the top of the foundation wall meets the 1st floor walls, and where the top of the 1st floor walls meet the 2nd floor walls. This is an area where most homes have loose cut pieces of standard pink insulation that are totally ineffective and provide almost no benefit. Spray foam not only provides superior insulation in terms of minimizing any air or heat movement in to or outside the home, but also provides a natural insect barrier to the home.
Shows one of the most critical details required by ENERGY STAR around windows and doors. Most homes have wood headers above all of their doors and windows which provide no insulation value. The result - most people pay crazy high monthly utility bills. When we build our ENERGY STAR homes, all window and door headers are “right sized” such that the thickness of the headers scaled back to allow both wood AND rigid insulation over the top. The result - more comfortable, less drafty homes with MUCH lower monthly utility bills.
Stay tuned as we take you even further inside the process of building one of our High Performance Luxury Homes. Whether you are thinking about building a custom home yourself, or just looking for some insight on how to improve the effeciency of your current home, we welcome your comments and questions below.