With increasing energy costs and environmental awareness in Oklahoma City, new home construction has acquired new imperatives. While many eco-friendly homeowners are happy to plant new trees, they are still looking out for ways to make an even bigger impact on their carbon footprint. One such way is through novel techniques for sustainable and energy efficient housing when designing and building a new home.
- Location: Planning a new home from the ground up gives ample opportunity to do it in the greenest way possible. For instance, you can ensure that the direction the largest windows face is away from direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day, reducing air conditioning needs. Also, choosing a plot that is well connected to the rest of OKC will help reduce car emissions during your regular commute.
- Smaller is Better: Smaller homes require fewer materials, less shipment, less energy to heat and cool, and less fuel to maintain the lawn. Like gearheads used to say “there’s no substitute for cubic inches”; eco-friendly homeowners know there’s no substitute for downsizing.
- Energy Efficient Appliances: Many appliances available nowadays are designed to be more energy efficient. If you look carefully, you will notice that many of these products come with an “Energy Star” rating and an estimate of annual energy consumption. These indicators help homeowners make informed decisions about the most energy hungry products they buy. Energy efficient lighting like LED and CFL bulbs do cost more than the regular light bulbs, but both last much longer and consume less energy.
- Insulation: For new construction, insulation is huge opportunity area for eco-consciousness. Novel materials such as soy foam insulation reduce the use of toxic materials in construction. Also, including adequate insulation from the start can help reduce energy consumption on heating and cooling, which account for as much as 50% of a home’s energy use.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: The three R’s are pretty simple to follow: reduce how much you buy and consume by using the resources available in more efficient ways; reuse what can be, such as reclaimed wood, hardware, and fixtures; recycle what can’t be reused, like broken glass and metal.
- Sustainable Building Materials: Technology has greatly expanded our options in building materials. There is now a substitute for virgin lumber that is made with wood pulp and polymers, but wears better and it just as strong.
- Alternative Power: Solar and wind energy are great options for Oklahoma’s sunny and windy climate. Yes, it is true that solar panels are expensive up front, but most models will pay for themselves in less than half the time it takes to pay off a mortgage!
- Rainwater Harvesting Systems: For my 5th grade science project, we were taught how to collect rainwater and store it in tanks for future use. You can use this water to water your lawn or landscaping on hot, dry days.
When looking to build an eco-friendly home in OKC, have a detailed discussion with your builder about your needs and expectations, and he can surely advise you accordingly.