Are you building a new home? If you are financing, we recommend building in the cost of solar and energy efficiencies in your new home mortgage instead of waiting to add solar after the fact with a higher interest loan.
Financing rates on mortgage loans are very attractive. The savings from your new solar energy system WILL BE GREATER than the financing costs of adding solar to your home mortgage. In other words, you will immediately cash flow positive from day one with solar. It just makes sense to build in the cost of solar and energy efficiencies in your new home mortgage. Another benefit to solar is that it has no moving parts, so there is very little future maintenance.
So, you’ve decided to include solar in your new home project. When designing your new home, be sure to take the following into consideration for optimal set-up for solar:
- Roof Orientation. A South facing roof is the perfect stage for your solar panels. Solar panels that face south collect the most energy from the sun, getting the best performance in efficiency from your panels.
- Avoid Shade. Besides building on a shade free site, avoid dormers on the south-facing roof that create shade. Also, avoid obstructions including vent pipes and chimneys than can create shade that reduce solar panels efficiency. Consider placing obstructions toward the ridge or end of the roof, as far away from the south as possible.
- Access to utility room. Solar will need a pipe or wire run, depending on the system configuration. Consider integrating the wire or pipe within the home’s frame instead of conduit on the outside of the home.
- Roof Materials. Asphalt shingle and standing seam metal roofs are ideal choices to attach solar.
Building Energy Efficiencies into your home will reduce energy (kWh) use and costly utility bills for years to come.
- Choose LED lights. LED is the way to go…low wattage, better light, and they last a very long time. Choose LEDs that are dimmable where needed, and with a color temperature of 2700K and no higher than 3000K for interior lighting. 60W equivalent bulbs are a good choice, but the 40W bulbs may make sense in areas that would be okay with fewer lumens.
- Attic Insulation and whole house exterior caulking. Air infiltration is the number one contributor to energy loss in homes and can account for up to 40% of heating and cooling costs. Create an air-tight, well insulated home so you don’t have the extra expense of heating and air-conditioning air that escapes or infiltrates the home. Make sure to insulate the attic with a 16” minimum of blown cellulose. Caulk all the windows and doors from the outside to reduce air infiltration and leakage.
- High Performance Windows. Look for high performance glass that is Low-E (low emissivity). Argon gas is injected between the panes to further increase R-value and reduce sound transmission. This makes these windows nearly double the R-value of standard double-pane windows.
- Wood Stove Insert. A wood stove or wood stove insert (looks like a fireplace, heats like a wood stove) will help greatly reduce energy use by preventing the electric coils on the Heat Pump from coming on when it is below 35 degrees outside.
- Heating and Cooling Equipment These are the top 5 most efficient air source heat pumps with the highest SEER and HSPF rating. We like the Carrier Infinity. A less expensive investment would be to replace your house system fan that is variable speed with an Electronically Commutated Motor (ECM)…it is sometimes referred to as a brushless motor…much more efficient and quieter than a standard fan…you’ll be going from an 800W motor to a 400W motor.
Should I build an all-electric home? Things to consider:
- All-electric homes make sense in rural areas where it is difficult and costly to tie into existing infrastructure of the utility grid.
- The cost of battery storage is still quite high. If an all electric home is not tied to the grid, stored energy must be used during evening/night time or days when the sun is not shining. The amount of stored kW hours necessary to run a refrigerator plus electric heat or air-conditioning requires a lot of batteries, which is costly.
- The cost of natural gas in our area is still very low. Electric heat and electric hot water heaters (depending on the number of occupants in the home) can increase electric utility bills dramatically and are very expensive in comparison to natural gas.
- If you are interested in Electric Water Heating we suggest efficient water heaters such as the Marathon 85g …or 50g
We believe a home that is energy efficient and uses both solar to reduce electricity pulled from the grid and natural gas to heat air and water is the best set-up for a home in our area. However, some new home owners value living off-grid and would prefer an all electric home with solar and battery back-up. Owners of remote properties could greatly benefit by choosing to live off-grid by eliminating costly tie-ins to utility infrastructure. Regardless, new homeowners can benefit from building homes with solar and energy efficiencies in mind that reduce energy use, save money on future utility costs, increase property value, and reduce financing costs of future upgrades. Contact us to learn more about including solar in your new home.