What is an "energy efficient" new home?
The key to designing and building an energy efficient home is to look at your home "as a system." Merely having reasonable insulation levels or good windows is not a guarantee of high performance. Compromising on commonly overlooked energy details could seriously undermine the benefits of the other components. For instance, you could buy very good windows, but if the area around the frame is not well sealed and insulated, they may still be drafty and uncomfortable. Similarly, you might have very high levels of insulation, but if it is not properly installed it may perform to only half of its rated insulating value. By looking at how all of the components interact - from insulation, to air leakage, to how the sun affects the home thermally - you can cost-effectively achieve a home that is not only energy efficient, but also more comfortable and healthy to live in.
What will an energy efficient home provide?
The short answer is it will provide the homeowner with a lifetime of energy savings (which translates into additional money to spend on more important things), consistent comfort in each room of your home, and a healthier living environment. A home certified to meet the standards of the Massachusetts Residential New Construction Program is a great value for both the owners and the environment. The benefits are tremendous.
Isn't it better to let your home "breathe" than to build it "too tight"?
Energy efficient homes receive fresh air through the installation of mechanical ventilation system. Concerns about home being built "too tight" have stemmed from many homes that are built tightly "by accident" without any thought towards mechanical ventilation. Leaky homes do not provide the proper level of ventilation in the right places at the right time. Through extensive research and testing, building scientists have found that the best strategy for maximizing occupant health and comfort in homes is to "build tight and ventilate right." With a simple, inexpensive ventilation system, a home can have a continuous, controlled supply of fresh air.
Will I have to sacrifice any aesthetic or design considerations to make my home meet the standards of the Massachusetts Residential New Construction Program?
From both the interior and exterior, an energy efficient home looks no different than a code-built home. Any style home can be an energy efficient home –it’s all about "building in" the energy details!
Why is energy so important when building a new home?
Because in simple economic terms, you get more for less—it’s a win-win situation for everybody. Paying attention to the energy details that will ensure you maximum comfort and excellent indoor air quality, while producing less pollution at less cost to you. The societal benefits of using less energy are also enormous: reduced air pollution, investment in the local economy, and reduced dependence on energy supplies.
It all seems a bit complicated. What help can I expect throughout this process?
When building an energy efficient home in Massachusetts, a consultant from the Program's vendor will be your resource to help make the right energy decisions and to guide you and your builder through the process of building a high performance home. For all of your energy related questions, the Program vendor will work hard to find the right, cost-effective answers.
Technical FAQ for home builders