January 16, 2018
What Makes New Homes More Efficient?
One of the major benefits to owning a new home is energy efficiency. New and efficient homes reduce the amount of time and money you need to spend to keep it maintained and in proper shape. We often hear about how new homes are more efficient, but what makes them better performers than older homes?
In addition to saving you time and money on your monthly and annual upkeep, a high efficiency home can also be eligible for discounts on monthly hydro bills as part of the Power Smart program. New homes can qualify for Power Smart status through two different paths, prescriptive and performance. Find out more, or apply for status, on Manitoba Hydro’s Power Smart for New Homes page.
Furnace efficiency is measured in units referred to as Annual Fuel Usage Efficiency (AFUE). AFUE refers to the amount of useful energy output based on the amount required to reach it. Example, if a 90% AFUE furnace is able to transform 90% of the gas power put into it into heat. The minimum AFUE a furnace a home can install today is 80%, with anything 90% or higher receiving the Energy Star rating. Without a doubt, new homes with properly installed high-efficiency furnaces and HVAC systems can save homeowners up to 35%-45% on their annual gas bills vs the heating systems found in an old home. These furnaces also reduce the carbon footprint of your home.
Windows & Doorsweeps
A high-efficiency furnace and HVAC system requires modern windows and weather-stripping (including doorsweeps) to truly make an impact in a home. You want your furnace to run with minimal output and that means your home needs to be sealed properly. An older home with metal or wood-framed windows can generate large drafts through the home requiring the furnace to work extra hard to keep temperatures up. After installing modern weather stripping, doorsweeps, and windows, be sure to check them annually (as the material can degrade) to make sure they are still working properly.
Think of insulation as dressing your home for the weather. You want it to stay warm when it’s cold out, and to contain cold air when it’s hot out. Insulation is rated by R values. The higher the R value, the better the insulation. Spray foam has an incredibly high R value compared to more traditional types of insulating and is commonly found in new homes. This foam is ideal as it conforms to the surfaces it is applied to and doesn’t need to be stuffed or cut to get it into corners and smaller places. The added benefit to spray foam is it doesn’t stop performing when wet. Fiberglass insulation temporarily loses its thermal resistance when wet. In a close wall cavity, when wet, it can migrate downward leaving behind areas without any protection.
The use of LED lightbulbs can have a major effect on your home’s power consumption. Using a 1/3rd to 1/30th of the energy Incandescent or CFL bulbs, in addition to lasting 10 times longer than compact fluorescent bulbs, they function without generating intense heat found in conventional lighting. LED lightbulbs also are mercury-free, something commonly found in CFL bulbs.
With all the advances in technology, appliances have come a long way from the energy-guzzling refrigerators of the 60s. Washing machines, ranges, and fridges are now built with drastically improved efficiency, and many of them come with an Energy Star Rating.
A high-efficiency washer can do a lot for your family. These washers are typically larger than old models and, when used properly, can function with 3x less water usage and 65% the electrical usage.
When it comes to the kitchen, your oven and range can have a real impact on energy usage. Convection ovens circulate hot air and reducing cook times and energy consumption by up to 20%. Self-cleaning ovens also offer great energy savings due to their extra insulation for withstanding the cleaning process. Consider using a range with a ceramic top as the top prevent extra heat from escaping if you’re using a pot or pan smaller than the coil size.
Solar (Alternative Energy)
Every year electricity keeps increasing in price and the cost of solar panels keeps going down. It only makes sense to explore solar when building a new home. These panels are so efficient, some homes are being designated net-zero homes, which generate more power than they use and feed it back to the grid (for credits on their account). Taylor Farm has a new show home built by Sterling Homes making use of rooftop solar panels and it can be seen at 10 Southdown Lane.
The quality of your new home rests on your builder. Having an experienced and knowledgeable builder is of utmost importance, as you need to trust they will build your home to your vision, but their experience is invaluable. Talk to different builders, as some may be able to suggest little improvements to your plans to improve your home’s efficiency in ways you may not have thought possible. That is why Qualico Communities works with Winnipeg’s most trusted builders. We want you to love your new home!