Benefits of Building an Energy-Efficient Home in Florida
Sunny weather, beautiful beaches, and hurricanes. All of these things come to mind when thinking of Florida.
Building in Florida means constructing for energy efficiency while also preparing for when disaster might strike. Keeping these factors in mind during the design process ensures your energy-efficient home will also be resilient and designed just the way you want it.
Weather in Florida
Florida is both the southeasternmost and flattest state with a high point of only 345 ft. With more than 8,400 miles of coastline and 21 million residents, Florida has a large population of people. Near the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, the weather across Florida can vary considerably depending on the time of the year, but for the most part is hot and humid.
Florida is getting hotter for even longer stretches of the year. Florida State University published a study showing an increase in the length of the hot season each year with the southernmost part of the state seeing a three week increase in the hot season over the period studied. While the temperature rarely breaks 100 degrees in Florida, the humidity can make the heat feel unbearable.
The six month long hurricane season that stretches from June 1st to November 30th is always a concern for Florida. Florida frequently finds itself in the path of intense storms. Hurricane Michael hit Florida on October 10, 2018 and is estimated to have caused more than $5 billion in insured losses. Designing residences and buildings to minimize the impact from strong storms will become more and more important as storms strengthen.
Because cold weather is unusual in Florida, when it does occur the impacts can be widespread. Most of the infrastructure is not prepared for cold weather in Florida, meaning pipes can burst and roadways can easily ice over. Crops are also incredibly susceptible to cold snaps.
Some years, Florida actually has more tornadoes than any other state. These frightening funnel shaped clouds can be incredibly dangerous and often give very little warning. Having a home built to withstand extreme weather events is the best way to know your family will be safe when severe weather strikes.
Threat of Flooding
Surrounded by wetlands, Florida is no stranger to wet conditions. Extreme weather events have caused major flooding and flash floods in many regions. High water levels have impacted not only residential, but commercial and agricultural buildings and property too.
Building for Florida
Energy-efficient homes tend to be well built, durable homes. In Florida, energy-efficient homes are becoming increasingly popular for many of the reasons listed. Many people are surprised by how easy and economical energy-efficient homes can be to design and build. Simple choices during the building process can have major impacts on the energy-efficiency of the home.
Here are some of the biggest aspects to consider when designing your energy-efficient Florida home:
Lighting used to be a major component of a home’s energy bill and it generated a great deal of heat too. Modern advances in LED technology have made lights much more energy-efficient. By producing less heat, most of the light that energy-efficient bulbs creates goes straight to illumination. Be sure to use energy-efficient lighting throughout your home to keep your energy bill low and reduce the load on your air conditioning system.
Low-flow water fixtures make it much easier to use less water without even noticing. By distributing water with a better pressure, low-flow fixtures are easy choices to add into your energy-efficient home.
To go a step further, consider adding a greywater system to recover gently used water from sinks and other sources for use in flushing toilets and irrigation. These systems can significantly reduce the amount of fresh water a home uses, which is important even for a wet state like Florida.
ENERGY STAR Appliances
If you’ve ever seen appliances in a big box store with yellow tags on them, chances are they were part of the ENERGY STAR program. The ENERGY STAR program is a government program that provides credible information about how much energy different appliances will use. Most water heaters, dishwashers, air conditioners, and other large appliances will be in the ENERGY STAR program. A review of the yellow labels on these appliances allows consumers to compare which ones are more efficient and will cost less to operate.
When severe weather hits, the grid may not be able to provide the power everyone is accustomed to. After Hurricane Irma, nearly two-thirds of Florida residents lost power, with some being without for more than five days. Even the best of energy grids have trouble when winds over 100 mph come roaring through.
The ability to generate power at your own home not only increases reliability should the lights go out, but it also keeps your energy bills from soaring. Solar or wind power generation is a great alternative to being reliant on the state’s energy grid. Implementing these features in the design phase keeps the costs lower too.
Better Construction Methods
Most people are familiar with traditional wood framing methods, but it’s important to consider other techniques that could result in a better, stronger, more energy-efficient home. Many of these methods, like insulated concrete forms (ICFs), are economical and can even save time during the building process.
ICF Construction in Florida
ICF blocks from Fox Blocks consist of two sheets of EPS insulation held together by a proprietary system of ties. The blocks are easily stacked together onsite and rebar is placed in the hollow in the hollow cavity of the blocks.. Once secured, concrete is poured to lock the entire structure together as a high-performance reinforced concrete wall assembly.
ICF blocks use their thermal mass, airtight construction, and two continuous layers of highly insulative expanded polystyrene foam to create high-performing, energy-efficient walls with R-values in excess of R-23. ICF construction eliminates thermal bridging, which creates a loss in thermal performance as typically created by wood studs. No thermal bridging and continuous insulation provide full thermal-resistance properties for the building envelope.
The thermal mass of the concrete also helps dampen temperature swings from affecting the temperature inside the home which reduces the load on the home’s air conditioner, a must for any Florida home. Not only is ICF construction more comfortable and energy-efficient than traditional methods, it is stronger too.
The reinforced concrete-nature of ICF construction makes it ready for the most severe of weather events - temperature changes, high winds, flooding and power outages. ICF blocks from Fox Blocks are even rated for use in building storm shelters and safe rooms per ICC 500 and FEMA P-361 standards for hurricane-resistant homes. Fox Blocks will keep your energy-efficient home safe and comfortable, no matter what is happening outside.
Choose Insulated Concrete Forms from Fox Blocks when Building in Fox Blocks
When building an energy-efficient home in Florida, think about ICF construction. When coupled with energy-efficient appliances and fixtures, ICF blocks from Fox Blocks are hard to beat. To learn more about why your home in Florida should be made with Fox Blocks, reach out to the Fox Blocks team today.