4 Innovative Materials to Look For in a New Home That Will Reduce Energy Costs
With society’s increasing conscientiousness of the debilitating effects of climate change, energy efficiency has become a primary consideration in all walks of life–and real estate is no exception.
More and more homeowners are looking for sustainable houses in an attempt to do their part in reducing society’s carbon footprint. While the benefits to the environment are manifold, energy-efficient homes can also help homeowners realize significant savings in the form of reduced nonrenewable energy costs.
As such, if you are in the market for a home in the Phoenix area, look for homes constructed from the following innovative materials.
1. Solar Roofing Panels
Any conversation on energy-efficient homes begins and ends with photovoltaic (PV) roofing panels. While using the sun to create renewable electricity is a great idea for homeowners everywhere, there is arguably no better place in the country than Arizona for solar roofing panels, as the extensive sunlight and mild climate create a PV haven.
As the Arizona summers can get exceptionally hot, the energy demands for keeping the home at a livable temperature will be significant. To aid your renewable electric system and lessen the amount that the air conditioning has to run, consider lining your ceiling with some innovative roof insulation to help maintain a moderate interior temperature.
2. Long-Lasting Countertop, Siding, and Driveway Options
Many times, when discussing energy costs, those in the real estate field limit their discussions to energy consumed during normal home operations.
However, just as relevant are the energy costs associated with maintenance, repairs, and replacements. Homeowners can save significantly on energy costs by choosing “set-it-and-forget-it” materials of the highest quality, with the following innovative materials costing next to nothing in terms of maintenance and replacement:
- Nonporous acrylic solid surface countertops that are crack and stain resistant
- Steel log siding that is rated to withstand the most extreme weather conditions, with white board and batten siding less likely to absorb the Arizona heat than darker hues
- Permeable gravel driveways that are not susceptible to erosion or staining
3. Insulated Concrete Framing
Traditional wood-framed homes see their insulative properties break down over time, as small imperfections in the design process created apertures through which air, moisture, and debris can sneak.
To avoid these issues and ace the blower door test needed to ensure a passive house building standard, look for homes that use insulated concrete forms (ICF) as a framing solution. In addition to providing a solid, one-piece design that creates an elite air and moisture barrier, ICF has a thermal mass far superior to wood-frame structures, helping residents maintain a stable interior temperature in their home regardless of the extremity of the exterior conditions.
4. Double Glazed Low-E Windows
Large windows that allow the flow of natural light have been a standard in energy-efficient homes, as they significantly reduce the amount of artificial light consumed during daylight hours.
However, window technology has improved to where the most innovative modern windows are also nearly as insulative as a wall. While old-fashioned single-pane windows are a veritable turnstile for heat to flow into and out of a building, double glazed low-E windows sandwich an insulative layer between high-tech solar coatings, ensuring that unwanted heat is not transferred into your Phoenix-area home.
With society highly motivated to become more sustainable, energy-efficient homes have become a priority on the real estate market. In addition to helping communities reduce their carbon footprint, sustainable buildings help homeowners save significantly on energy costs.
Therefore, when scouring the market for an energy efficient home of your own, look for homes that use innovative materials such as solar roofing panels; durable countertops, siding, and driveways; insulated concrete framing; and double glazed low-E windows to help you save on energy costs.
Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.