When people think of efficiency they think of efficiency apartments that are typically 300-450 sq. ft. in the US. However, efficiency doesn’t have to mean a small space, but it does require some small details.
If you live in a cooler region, take a look at new houses being built. In all likelihood there won’t be very many windows on the north- or south-facing walls. By grouping windows on the east- and west-facing walls, the house becomes more efficient because it can use the sun’s natural light to brighten the house and also lower the heating costs.
Other efficient ways to lower heating and cooling costs are to place rooms effectively in the house design. Placing a garage or breezeway on the side of the house with the prevailing wind will act as a barrier from the remainder of the living space. Also, center the mechanical rooms in the house. This reduces the length of duct work which works two-fold. It allows for more even heating and cooling throughout the space because there are no longer-run ducts that lose heat or cooling on the way to the room and if new duct-work is needed, it can usually be room-specific.
Another way to reduce energy usage and to have a more efficient house is to use compact florescent (CF) bulbs in light fixtures as well as low flow showerheads and toilets. CF bulbs use a much smaller amount of electricity than normal bulbs and typically last longer while the low flow plumbing reduces the amount of water used in the house.
Finally, the colors that you decide for the interior and exterior of your house can be efficient as well. Having lighter colors on the exterior will reflect sunlight and will reduce cooling costs while lighter colors inside will reflect light and reduces the need for artificial light during the day.
Efficiency isn’t just about having a small space. It’s about making many small decisions that reduce energy usage. Whenever planning a new build, whether you are a contractor or developer looking to design a new community or an individual looking to build your dream home, trust your design to a LEED accredited architect.