The whole-house systems approach used to design this ultra-efficient home at Lone Star Ranch in Frisco, Texas, resulted in a home that consumes no more energy that its renewable energy systems produce. Photo from Building Science Corporation.
Designing and building a new house or renovating an existing house to be highly energy-efficient requires careful planning and attention to detail. A whole-house systems approach helps homeowners, architects, and builders develop successful strategies for optimizing home energy efficiency.
This approach considers the house as an energy system with interdependent parts, each of which affects the performance of the entire system. It also takes the occupants, site, and local climate into consideration.
To ensure that your new or renovated home takes full advantage of a whole-house systems approach, hire an experienced design and building team and insist that they use a whole-building systems approach from the beginning of the design process. Your designer can perform a whole-house computer simulation that compares multiple combinations of variables to arrive at the most cost-effective and energy-efficient solution.
These variables could include:
- Site conditions
- Local climate
- Appliances and home electronics
- Insulation and air sealing
- Lighting and daylighting
- Space heating and cooling
- Water heating
- Windows, doors, and skylights.
Some benefits of using a whole-house systems approach include:
- Reduced utility and maintenance costs
- Increased comfort
- Reduced noise
- A healthier and safer indoor environment
- Improved building durability.
You can use the whole-house systems approach with any home design. Once you’ve reduced your energy loads requirements as much as possible, consider adding renewable energy systems that generate electricity and heat water.