Think of a house like a sandwich. The "inside" contents of ham, cheese, tomato and lettuce need the "outside" bread to keep them all together. In the case of a house, the roof and foundation are needed to keep levels of a home snuggly fit together. During Energy Awareness Month in October, homeowners, builders and remodelers are encouraged to choose the right kind of "bread" to make their houses as energy efficient as possible.
"When thinking of a house, healthy living begins with reliable building materials that offer energy savings and protection from the weather," says Jim Costello, president of Superior Walls®. "Starting at the bottom of the house, there's no better way to begin than with a precast concrete foundation.
“Choosing an energy-efficient Xi™ or Xi Plus™ foundation can help ward off heat loss and make the basement a more comfortable area for extended living and storage space. Reinforced with steel and containing 2-1/2" of insulation in each Xi wall panel, this foundation provides a dry and exceptionally energy-efficient start for a house. And, the Xi Plus wall panels can even help in the construction of an ENERGY STAR® qualified home."
On top of the house, the roof receives direct exposure on a daily basis to the sun and elements. And all those searing sun rays can cause the home interior to heat up if the right roofing tiles are not selected. Fortunately, the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC), an independent testing organization, has developed accurate and credible methods for evaluating and labeling the solar reflectance and thermal emittance of roofing products.
Choosing a composite tile roof, such as the DaVinci EcoBlend® slate or shake options, can help reflect sunlight and heat away from the home. Approved by the CRRC, six color blends are available that all meet California's 2016 Building Energy Standards (Title 24, Part 6) requiring the use of energy-efficient roofing materials. Two of the roof colors from DaVinci Roofscapes® --- Weathered Gray EcoBlend and Castle Gray EcoBlend --- also meet the stringent requirements to receive the ENERGY STAR designation.
"EcoBlend roof tiles reflect heat and emit the sun's energy back into the atmosphere instead of into a structure," says Ray Rosewall, CEO and president of DaVinci Roofscapes. "The composite shake and slate tiles help reduce the cooling load, and, as a result, increase the energy efficiency of a building. An additional bonus is that a cooler roof contributes to a lower heat island effect in heavily populated areas. This in turn helps reduce a home's carbon footprint."
Inside the Sandwich
When it's time to create the "insides" for the home sandwich, which is generally designated as the building envelope for a house, homeowners and builders should look for products that work overtime to help the home save energy. These can include foam-backed siding, extra insulation and structural insulated panels. As for the openings in the house, fiberglass entry doors and solidly-constructed vinyl windows offer some of the best resistance to weather, wind and air infiltration.
When selecting privacy windows for the home, don't sacrifice energy efficiency for design style. You can get both when selecting window products made specifically to handle Mother Nature. Impact-resistant Storm-Lite silkscreened glass windows bring beauty, privacy and security to an elegant, energy-efficient specialty window.
"Storm-Lite windows feature a one-inch insulated unit with an annealed, laminated exterior glass to resist impact and gain energy efficiency," says Roger Murphy, president of Hy-Lite, a U.S. Block Windows Company. "There's also tempered glass on the interior of each unit for enhanced safety and the windows feature heavy-duty vinyl frames in the choice of four designer frame colors of white, tan, driftwood and bronze."
Another privacy window option with strong energy efficiency benefits is an acrylic block window constructed with E3 SunBlock PLUS acrylic blocks. The most energy-efficient acrylic block offered by Hy-Lite, this block includes an extra panel of acrylic in the center of each block to help increase the insulative power of the window and reduce solar heat penetration into the home.
One of the largest openings in the building envelope --- the garage door --- should also be purchased with energy efficiency in mind. Heavy gauge galvanized steel doors, like those in the 2000 Series by Haas Door, are two-inches thick and filled with dense CFC free polyurethane foam insulation. Enhanced air infiltration seals in the section joints of the door restrict air movement to increase the energy efficiency of the garage door.
"There's a full thermal break in the tongue-and-groove construction of these energy efficient doors," says Jeffrey Nofziger, president of Haas Door. "This rigid vinyl extrusion seals the joints and eliminates metal-to-metal contact. This means that the transfer of temperature is limited, allowing the durable garage doors to feature a calculated R-value of 17.66.
"For a homeowner, an energy-efficient garage door equates to keeping the interior of the garage comfortable, even during the most frigid winter temperatures."
For tips on building an energy-efficient home, which includes consideration of appliances and home electronics, insulation and air sealing, lighting, space heating and cooling, along with water heating, visit the http://www.energystar.gov website. Full checklists are available there for energy efficient home design and do-it-yourself home energy audits. And, for details on constructing an ENERGY STAR certified home (which can save up to 30 percent on utility bills compared to a typical home), visit www.energystar.gov.