In my experience, building energy efficiency into your home is the best investment you can make. Improved indoor air quality and reduced energy costs are long term benefits that will ultimately pay dividends to you, the home owner. A well maintained building envelope saves energy in two primary ways. It prevents the uncontrolled flow of outside air through the building and increases the thermal integrity.
If possible, design and orient your home on your building site to maximize day lighting and solar gain. Address the “Building Envelope” as you undertake this important aspect of your build by paying close attention to key aspects:
1. Use under-slab basement insulation, even if you are not heating the slab.
2. Insulate your basement perimeter the full height and incorporate a thermal and damp proof break between the concrete and the insulation.
3. Spray foam rim joists cavities. This is the best way to achieve a tight seal.
4. Main and upper level perimeter walls should have a minimum of 6″ cavity insulation complete with insulated sheathing to address thermal bridging.
5. Ceiling insulation should achieve a consistent R50 level along with adequate ventilation.
6. A superior insulated building envelope is not complete unless accompanied by a tightly sealed air/vapour barrier along with a protective rainscreen where required.
7. Windows and doors should seal tight when closed and all glass should be at minimum double glazed with LowE/Argon, with a preference for triple glazing and LowE/Argon. It is imperative to seal around all doors and windows with a spray foam for a tight seal.
8. Seal tight all electrical boxes, pot lights and envelope service penetrations.
9. Now that your home is sealed tight, installing a Heat Recovery Ventilator is imperative. It will serve as “lungs” for your home, by continuously exchanging the stale air in your home for fresh outside air. The HRV will need to be balanced by a qualified professional to maintain equal pressure in your home. “It is more efficient to control the draft in your home than it is to have a drafty house.”
10. Use quality materials and equipment and qualified installers to ensure your whole house system functions properly.
When you make this investment in your building envelope, the heating and cooling equipment you choose will achieve its intended efficiency, reduce your home’s operating costs and increase your indoor comfort.
To quote one of our clients, “The money I save on energy costs more than pays for the increases in property taxes.”