Homes are the biggest investment most people will ever make in their lives. On the other hand, buildings are subject to many problems and their electricity and natural gas consumption can easily amount, over the years, to dozens of thousands of dollars, on top of the initial investment.
So, do it right the first time. Consider carefully your priorities.
Fixing problems later will cost you much more. Homes should be comfortable, healthy and inexpensive to maintain.
Inform yourself, plan your project thoroughly and choose the best team to help you accomplish your goal.
Mistrust popular design and architecture magazines. They are full of nonsense.
Consider carefully your own ideas on new homes. Many people follow dreams of large buildings with lots of glass, sophisticated designs, fancy kitchens and many bedrooms. Do not let you be fooled by this type of ideas.
Choose an informed and knowledgeable architect. Most architects and builders are uninformed about low-energy and green building and follow the prevailing ideas and traditional methods. They may be honest – most are… - but that doesn't mean that they are knowledgeable and informed in new key areas.
Do not be afraid to ask questions and take time to research and plan. Do not rush. Never forget the dozens of thousands of dollars that are at stake.
Do not forget that there are energy standards that you should meet. Many building codes and states in many parts of the world are requiring or recommending new homes to be energy efficient. In Australia, homes should meet 6 Star standards; in the UE there are targets for nearly energy-zero homes from 2020 on; in the US, many states and cities have stringent energy standards, and the Department of Energy recommends the whole-house system approach in new construction.
Low-energy homes is much more than fancy new equipment or solar powered systems on the roofs of the house. It also involves very high levels of insulation, high-performance windows and doors, proper landscaping, design features…
Average homes consume about $2.000 (USA, EIA) in electricity and natural gas every year, which amounts to a large sum in the end of the life of the house and a great environmental impact. Buildings are, typically, the biggest energy consumers and consequently the biggest threat to the environment.
You can reduce that impact and your energy costs to a small fraction. Or make your home zero-energy. That’s not a wild green dream anymore. With the right priorities, it will not cost you more. Low-energy standards are the best way to get a comfortable and healthy home, with low maintenance costs.
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