Energy efficiency continues to be a topic that more and more home buyers are discussing. The way new homes are being built and insulated in order to achieve energy efficiency is an important topic. In my opinion, when considering a purchase, energy efficiency may be the #1 reason to consider building a new home. This is a major trend in housing that is generating momentum on a variety of levels. We talk about “sealing the envelope” and a better insulated home with higher R-values. Those are relatively simple concepts. Just as important is the HVAC component of this converstation. Its the engine of the car, if you will allow the analogy.
What I’m sharing comes from working with Piedmont Realty and Construction, because that’s where a lot of my knowledge on this topic originates. I have had a lot of conversations with Drew Holzwarth and his contractors on this topic. The #1 point I would make for prospective purchasers is that you want to make sure you get a home that has the right size system for the space. If you don’t, the rest won’t matter. Piedmont accomplishes this by having their HVAC contractor perform a “j-calc” for every home they build. Its very common for builders to take the “one size fits all” approach to HVAC. That is, each time they build “Model A” they have the HVAC contractor install the same system, regardless of modifications to the plan. Whenever you change a plan size or shape or even move/add/delete windows you have impacted heating and cooling considersations. Windows impact natural heat transfer. All this needs to be considered in the sizing of the system. I’m not sure why more builders don’t do this other than its extra work and costs money.
There’s a lot to learn on this topic. I found this handy resource on system sizing, SEER, airflow, ductwork and how it all relates to efficiency. Check it out here.
If you are considering a new purchase, ask the right questions. Make sure you are working with a builder that has a philosophy and team that is committed to building a better home. Piedmont Realty and Construction does and that’s why I live in one of their homes.