Important Considerations for Building an Energy Efficient Home in California
Soaring energy prices and the effects of climate change are being felt all around, so building energy-efficient homes is more important than ever. California is no exception. With some of the highest electricity costs in the nation, California homes can greatly benefit from being energy-efficient. The state is also committed to reducing its carbon footprint which starts with homeowners building more efficient homes.
The Climate in California
In California, the climate varies greatly depending on the region, but the majority of the population lives in coastal cities. Mild temperatures and a Mediterranean climate prevail throughout these cities. Coastal cities may be quite pleasant, but other regions of California like Death Valley can reach record-high temperatures of 130°F or greater.
Temperatures can vary throughout the state, and dry conditions have led to an increase in wildfires across the region. Since 1972, the area burned by wildfires in California has increased fivefold, and in some areas promoting floods. For Californians, the need to build resilient and efficient structures for safety and energy conservation has never been more important.
Building with Efficiency
When building an energy-efficient home in California, there are several key considerations that should be taken into account. Each of these components can have a major impact on the overall energy usage of the home:
Insulation is crucial for keeping your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. High-quality insulation will help to reduce your energy costs and improve the overall comfort of your home. The quality and quantity of the insulation dictates the energy required to keep your home comfortable.
Thermal mass refers to the mass in a building’s exterior walls. The more thermal mass, the longer the walls take to warm up and cool down. By taking longer to change temperature, outdoor fluctuations in temperature are dampened, which keeps the temperature inside pleasant. Stone, concrete, and other materials are great sources to capture thermal energy within mass wall assemblies
Energy-efficient windows can help to reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer while still enjoying the beautiful views California has to offer. Look for windows that are double or triple-paned, low-E coated, and have high solar heat gain coefficients (SHGC). Placement and orientation of windows is also a very important consideration during the design phase.
A high-efficiency heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can help to reduce your energy costs and improve the overall comfort of your home. Look for systems that have high SEER ratings and use renewable energy sources, such as geothermal or solar. Heat pumps also provide an energy-efficient way to heat your home throughout the winter.
An energy-efficient water heating system can help to reduce your energy costs and improve the overall comfort of your home. Look for systems that use renewable energy sources, such as solar or heat pump water heaters.
Put the Sun to work by adding solar panels to your home’s roof. Solar panels can generate the entire energy needs for the home and sometimes the excess electricity can be sold back to the utility company. Solar panels are a great addition to any energy-efficient home.
Energy-efficient lighting can help to reduce your energy costs and improve the overall comfort of your home. Look for LED or CFL bulbs and consider installing dimmer switches or occupancy sensors. Smart switches also allow your lights to be automated, to make energy efficiency easy.
Building materials and construction methods play a big role in energy efficiency. Choosing the right construction type can have the biggest impact on how well your home uses energy.
Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) are a superior choice when it comes to energy efficiency. ICFs are made from interlocking blocks of expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation that are filled with steel-reinforced concrete. The result is a strong, energy-efficient home that can also withstand California's seismic activity.
ICF Construction: The Top Choice for Energy Efficiency
ICF construction provides both interior and exterior insulation that is continuous and uninterrupted, which makes it an ideal choice for energy efficiency. The solid structure also means that air leaks through the wall are virtually eliminated. The high thermal mass from the concrete walls helps to smooth the effect of variations in outdoor temperature on the temperature inside. With an R-value of R-22 or greater, ICF construction can be incredibly hard to match using traditional construction techniques.
Building an energy-efficient home in California is not only good for the environment and your wallet but also for your personal comfort. Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) from Fox Blocks are a great option for building a high-performance, resilient, and energy-efficient home in California.
Fox Blocks is a leading manufacturer of ICF systems and has been providing homeowners with safe, energy-efficient homes for over 20 years.
Contact Fox Blocks today to learn more about how they can help you build the energy-efficient home of your dreams in California! Review the website for ICF training and contractor educational ICF courses and videos.