When constructing a new custom home, design and materials majorly impact cost of ownership for generations. Investing in triple-pane windows and doors, high grade insulation, and premium air sealing can greatly reduce your heating and cooling costs, while also making your home more enjoyable for the whole family. Is it worth it financially to build a highly efficient home over a standard-built home because of the reduction in operating costs?
The overwhelming answer is yes, but the more specific answer is that it depends on several variables. Some energy efficient upgrades have a major cost benefit, while others simply do not. Your local climate conditions is another factor that plays into the equation.
Ryan Dunn, President of the Trinity Builders
in Edwards, Colorado says the payback period of upgrading a home to an custom energy-efficient home over a standard-built house can be down to three years or less in the Rocky Mountains, with the upfront building costs being five to seven percent higher. Custom energy efficient homes require an investment in a variety of building materials and operating systems, some increasing and others decreasing the construction costs. State of the art ventilation,highly efficient hot water heating, upgraded windows and doors, and high grade insulation add to the total cost of construction, while money is saved on the heating and cooling system, according to Dunn.
Custom energy efficient homes with premium air sealing require advanced ventilation systems to circulate outside air, bringing fresh filtered air into the home and preventing toxic mold from developing. Custom energy efficient homes don’t typically use combustion fuels, such as propane stoves and natural gas furnaces, primarily because the hazardous byproducts from these systems contaminate the indoor air quality. Airtight custom homes with premium air sealing technology allow very little air into the home, thus fresh air from outside is brought in with a ventilation system that recycles heat throughout the home.
All homes constructed by Trinity Builders in Vail Colorado have premium heat recovery ventilation systems that transfer over 92 percent of the heat from the exhaust air to the intake air before it finally exits the home. Stagnant air is efficiently removed from the kitchen and bathrooms and fresh clean air is delivered to the bedrooms and living areas.
Even though an energy efficient heat recovery ventilation system for a custom home may be more expensive than exhaust-only ventilation, it is a mandatory fixture in custom energy efficient homes and reduces the overall utility cost by promoting an optimal level of energy efficiency that would otherwise result in poor indoor air quality and moisture issues without premium ventilation systems. An average standard-built house transfers air in and out of the home via leaks, exhaust fans and hardware systems.This becomes extremely inefficient when the outside temperature is cold due to the fact that interior heat isn’t captured before leaving the home. The heat recovery ventilation system helps make it possible to do away with a much more expensive and much less effective furnace or boiler by effectively and economically heating intake air with recycled heat from the exhaust air.
Today’s custom high efficiency homes no longer use boilers, furnaces, as energy efficient electric baseboard heaters can easily heat the home with a huge cost savings benefit. The heat loss of the home is very slight, even in a cold climate like Colorado.
“When it comes to heating your energy efficient home you can go wrong with baseboard heaters,” says Ryan Dunn
from Trinity Builders. “You will find that the overall savings far outweigh the upfront construction costs.”