Energy savings are more important than ever for new homeowners today. The new construction is significantly different from the homes that were built when many of us were growing up. I can still remember hearing the wind howling and drafts coming right through the walls when I was a kid. Not only were builders a bit more liberal with the rules, but the standards were not nearly as high at they are now in terms of energy efficiency.
The saying “tight as a drum” now literally refers to how new homes are built. Code requirements are far stiffer and builders have different techniques they use to create a “thermal envelope.” In layman’s terms, this is how the house is made “tight.” The object being to keep the cool air in during the warmer months and the warm air in during the colder months, while at the same time preventing outside air from penetrating the seal.
You can have the home checked to see how “tight” it is after the build. This is done via a “blower door test,” where a calibrated fan system is fitted to an external door to depressurize the house. The readings will let you know just how tight the home is. This test is able to measure just how much air is seeping out of the little nooks and crannies that you cannot see.
To give you an idea of the difference in new-home construction compared to older homes, a new home will have an air change per hour (ACH) reading of somewhere between three and five. Older homes, on the other hand, will often show readings between 15 and 25, so you can just imagine how much air is slipping out unnoticed, which is why energy bills are so much higher for these homes even if they are doing everything right.
If you are having a custom home built, this is something you or your residential project manager should be asking about right out of the gate. The home has to be built from the ground up to create a tight thermal envelope, or you could be losing money the moment you walk through that front door and crank up the heat or air conditioning. This is yet another reason to consider using a Build Better Now construction consultant or project manager to ensure your build goes perfectly and you get that dream home you have always wanted.