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What is a High-Performance House Plan?

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Published On : 01-28-2014
Author :Brian Toolan
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One of the topics of interest among home builders, remodelers and architects today is the proper building techniques for constructing what is being called a “high performance home.” A high performance house is designed to use about 35 percent less energy than a similar new home and about 50 percent less energy than a similar existing home.

 

What’s more, these house plans are more than just energy efficient—they are more environmentally responsible and maintain a very robust sustainable living environment. A growing market, the best part about these green homes is that any home or building that uses alternative energy can often benefit from a number of state rebates, tax credits, and other incentives thanks to promoting clean energy.

 

In fact, the NAHB and BuildingGreen, LLC have developed a special course that provides builders and remodelers with the latest information and techniques available in order to build a high performance home. Attendees will leave the course with the ability to actually apply the building physics to performance and then translate the building science into design and construction elements surrounding high performance homes.

 

High performance homes not only use less energy, which helps llower operating costs and reduces environmental impacts, but they are built to have overall better air quality, comfort and long term durability.Some of the high performance elements involved include: energy, materials and water efficiencies, indoor environmental quality and location. Other important components of a high-performance home include insulation, high efficiency windows that are flashed and sealed properly, and  HVAC systems.

 

Solutions include solar energy which requires photovoltaic solar panels, an inverter, and batteries that can store excess energy. Performance often varies regionally depending on how much sun your state gets. Although solar panels require some maintenance, once installed, they provide a lot of electricity.

 

You will also find wind energy that is produced by smaller sized turbines especially for backyard energy production. Anyone with a home that is considering this option needs to look at the speed of the wind in their area, a big determining factor in whether wind power is the right solution. A 10-kilowatt turbine typically provides enough energy for a single family home. Just like solar energy, wind energy is climate-dependent – therefore when the turbine’s not turning, a different energy source is required. And unlike solar energy, wind turbines are built of out of moving parts that need regular maintenance.

 

Professional Builder magazine offers the following tips in an article entitled, 14 best practices in high-performance home design. The first thing the article recommended is to get the input from all decision-makers while a project is in its design phase. That would be the architects, suppliers, and others.

 

Of note is to take advantage of southern exposure on the rear of the home, with fewer penetrations on the north side. For energy effencies, try to use deep porches and roof overhangs and to help reduce solar advances.

 

Architects are advised not to over design foundations and waste concrete or wood, to apply efficient framing techniques that reduce the amount of wood in the home, and avoid ductwork in unconditioned spaces like an attic. Think about the fact that cross-ventilation from natural breezes can help reduce the load on cooling systems.

 

green house plan

This ultra-modern house plan # 149-1837 (left) at The Plan Collection with all the light, drama and intimacy you could want in a new home. The great room, kitchen and dining area is 12 feet tall and open to the outside with an expansive opening glass wall.Along with your high performance house plan, there are a number of new technologies that are energy efficient to round out your home, and many focus on mobile control for homes. Some of the highlights of these new technologies include laser robot vacuums eco-friendly toilets with a motion-activated seat and lid, and air dryer. Add in really smart grid appliances and know that your home of the future will be interconnected, master-controlled and wireless.

 

Another popular trend gaining ground in home design is the ancient Asian art of Feng Shui house plans where both interior and exterior spaces surrounding your home are constructed to promote superb energy flow for achieving prosperity, good health and harmony in life.

 

Last, high performance homes need to be tested regularly for their energy performance in order to monitor any opportunities for improvement. And make sure your home is ready for future technologies for instance, think about pre-wiring for a solar photovoltaic system.

 

If you are still looking for the perfect home design, browse the home designs and house plans at The Plan Collection (www.theplancollection.com) and get ready to sit back, relax and enjoy.

 

 

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