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Energy Efficiency

Most everyone positions their house for the best view. But, that doesn't always give you the best energy efficiency. If the view also exposes a large portion of your home to the south or west sun, you're asking for high energy bills -- especially in the summer. 

With temperatures hitting the 110o mark from time to time and heat waves lasting for weeks at a time, I can guarantee a south or west exposure will get very old very quickly. 

If you're determined to get the view, then plan for the heat at the same time. Plant fast growing trees, make big overhanging porches, or find some other ways to shade the hot sides of your home. Until you do, those sides will be virtually unlivable during the hot summer months. But, the good news is that the Sacramento Shade organization says that trees can reduce your monthly air conditioning bill by up to 40%!

Energy-efficient landscaping ideas  

The west side of this house was exposed to the harsh heat. Trees were planted immediately, and a large shrub against the west wall. Then a structure was built for wisteria to grow shading the lower portion of the house completely. Now, the downstairs portion of this house stays so cool that only a whole house fan is needed in late afternoon to bring some of the cool air upstairs to cool it down. Air conditioning is only needed occasionally.

Shrubs that grow under windows are allowed to grow up and cover windows exposed to the south or west during the summer to protect from the heat of the sun. In the winter, these same shrubs are cut below the windows to allow the sun in for the solar heating effect.

Tap Existing Energy Sources -- water, wind, solar

The California Energy Commission frequently offers cash rebates on eligible renewable energy electric-generating systems.

You can get a rebate of up to $3,000 per kilowatt, or 50 percent off your system purchase price (whichever is less), making it more affordable to generate your own electricity using renewable energy.

This program is called the Emerging Renewables Buy-Down Program.

Energy Efficient Alternate Styles of Construction

Straw Bale

The straw-bale wall has the best energy performance because it has the highest R-value by a wide margin. For the entire building, changes in just the wall construction change the heating load by plus or minus twenty percent from the R-19 wood frame base case.

In addition to energy efficiency, straw bale offers an opportunity to create some unusual designs not affordable with traditional methods of construction. For instance, walls can be "sculpted" providing rounded corners near windows and doors, or recessed areas in or outside the home. 

According to experts, using radiant floor heating via solar panels and fuel cell technology (the hope is that the current energy crisis will drive fuel cell technology costs down), and you can be completely independent of the "grid". 

There are many very comprehensive sites on the web to study. Here are those that I think offer the best data.

Department of Energy

Green Builder

Details on other renewable energy sources (wind, water, solar) as well at additional alternate, energy efficient building methods   are available at the Consumer Energy Center as well.



All photos on this site are copyrighted. Many are available to purchase, however, at www.19thCentury.us


2005 - Jody & Ric Hornor l contact