Modular Homes Section
Energy Efficient Modular Homes
Modular homes are a good investment and selecting energy efficient options is an even wiser investment. By paying a little extra money during construction or doing an energy efficiency retrofit you can significantly lower your energy and homeownership costs. These savings will grow as oil and gas energy prices continue to rise.
Energy efficiency is not just about saving alot of money. It also will make your home more comfortable for you to live in. You'll remove those annoying drafts and make the temperature of your modular home more enjoyable and consistent.
You will also make selling your home easier. Energy efficient features help increase the resale value of your modular home. Home buyers are always interested in buying homes with lower operating costs. It also is good selling point that your energy efficient modular home will be helping the environment by reducing the burning of fossil fuels that contributes to global warming, acid rain and smog and other kinds of pollution.
Here are some key areas to improve the energy efficiency of your modular home.
Furnaces are a large investment and not often replaced. It is very important to match the right furnace for your modular home right from the start. If a furnace is too powerful you will waste alot of fuel for unneeded heating. Consider upgrading to an energy star certified furnace, these furnaces are more efficient than their competition and much more efficient and quieter than the furnaces you grew up with.
Another option is to look into using a heat pump in your modular home. Heat pumps combine the heating and cooling to create a much more efficient system. Heat pumps can significantly reduce your monthly operating costs.
You can use individual room air conditioners to cool your house but it is more efficient to use a central air conditioning system. Large central air conditioners may not seem more energy efficient but they are when you segment your modular home into zones and only cool the zone you are in. During the night you can save money by not cooling the kitchen or living room areas. An alternative cooling system is an evaporative cooler. These can be a good alternative for people living in very hot and dry climates.
Regardless of which system you choose you should speak with your modular home to builder to ensure that the home will be shaded and that the external pieces of your air conditioners will also receive shade. By shading the external units you can save 10-20% of energy costs. Another way to reduce your cooling costs is to have ceiling fans installed in your modular home. They are energy efficient and quiet as well.
Leaks (ducts, pipes, windows and doors)
Air infiltration is a large cause of wasted energy dollars. It can also contribute to moisture problems which may lead to mold issues. To minimize wasted energy costs the pipes and air ducts should be insulated. This will minimize energy loss and also minimize humidity as cold pipes will sweat during the summer. It is important that insulation is also used where the modules are connected.
Ensuring the outside access points are properly sealed is a good way to save money. Make sure that your modular home has a high quality housewrap sealing it. The housewrap will keep moisture away from your wood frame of the house and eliminate drafts from sneaking through. The windows of your modular house should be double-paned to minimize the air infiltration and also ask your modular builder to use only solid core exterior doors.
Water heating can cost over 15% of your total energy bill. It is very wise and profitable to improve the energy efficiency of your water heater. If you choose to have a conventional water heater in your modular home you should ask that it be wrapped and well insulated. Also make sure to have the hot water pipes leaving the water heater be insulated as well. This will keep your water hotter by several degrees which will let you lower the temperature of your water heater and save more money.
To save even more money consider upgrading your water heater to a tankless water heater. The main difference is that the new energy efficient tankless water heaters do not have large holding tanks like conventional water heaters. That is because conventional water heaters need to keep a large volume of water constantly heated. This wastes money and allows you to run out of hot water during high demand. Tankless water heaters heat the water on demand. This saves money by only heating water when you need it and also it allows it to never run out of hot water.
Managing Solar Heat
Solar energy can save home owners alot of money if managed properly. You may think you have never used solar energy in your home but you have. Solar energy heats your homes on hot summer days increasing your cooling costs. By using awnings or window covers you can reduce the solar gain by as much as 80%.
The color of your roof and the material used on it can also greatly impact how much the sun heats your house on summer days. You should ask your modular house builder for what options are available. While you are at you might even think about installing some solar panels on your modular roof and generate free energy while you are at it.
Insulation is a well known way to improve the energy efficiency of a home but many homes are still being constructed without enough insulation. All exterior walls and the attic should be insulated. It doesn't matter if you use blown insulation, batt insulation or rigid insulation. What matters is that you have enough insulation in your home.
Insulation is rated on an "R" scale. The higher the "R" value the better insulated you are. If you live in a colder part of the United States you should have your modular house builder upgrade your insulation to R-49. If you are in a warmer part of the United States you should upgrade to an R-38 value. In most cases this will be more than double the insulation of a standard home. The extra cost of insulation will money on your energy bills every year.
Modular Home Green Certification
There are two main certifications of energy efficiency. They are the Energy Star program and the LEED program. Both of them promote green techniques and ensure your home is as environmentally friendly which results in alot of expensive energy being saved.
United States Green Building Council (USGBC) created the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program. This program rates "green homes" and commercial buildings. They look at the design, construction as well as the long term operation of the home to determine how environmentally friendly it truly is. LEED looks at five main areas: site development, energy efficiency, water savings, material selection and the indoor environment quality. The LEED program has different scales for new and existing homes.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses a program called Energy Star to identify products that are more energy efficient than standard products. Energy Star certified homes are at least 30% more energy efficient in its heating, cooling and water heating than a comparable home built to the Model Energy Code (MEC). This higher level of energy efficiency means these homes save money every month on their utilities which is very attractive to home buyers. Also it is good to know that they are helping to protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
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