“Green design” may be a relatively new term for describing ideas that are environmentally sensitive, but the concept is timeless — particularly as it applies to the home. The principles are simple: Use materials wisely, conserve water and energy, save money in the long term, and create surroundings that are safe and healthy.
When building or remodeling a lakefront home, there are several opportunities to apply green concepts. You don’t have to do everything and there is no such thing as the right or wrong set of products. Building green is a thinking process, do what you can within your budget and motivation.
Part 1 of 4: Energy Efficiency
Your lakefront home can be designed to maximize energy efficiency through a highly efficient building envelope, efficient HVAC, fixtures and appliances, and energy monitoring systems that give transparency to you on how much energy you are using.
• Passive Solar: When buying or building a lakefront home, consider how the home is designed to fit the sun, wind, lake breezes and weather patterns specific to the building site. Wise use of a home’s natural environment can offer the most cost effective energy savings available.
• Efficient building envelope: A well insulated, cost-effective building enclosure is the most important way to get energy efficiency from your home. Consider high-performing insulation and high efficiency, low-E, gas-filled windows to help self-regulate the interior home climate.
• Efficient lighting: Consider cost-effective CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) lights in your house which are 4-6 times more efficient than traditional incandescent lights. When appropriate, also consider LED lighting, which offers extended life and low energy consumption in a number of applications.
• Energy Star appliances: Consider ENERGY STAR certified appliances in your home. Appliances have two price tags: what you pay to take it home and what you pay for the energy and water it uses. ENERGY STAR qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10–50% less energy and water than standard models. The money you save on your utility bills can more than make up for the cost of a more expensive but more efficient ENERGY STAR model. See the ENERGY STAR website for more info.
• Efficient heating and cooling: Consider high efficiency heating systems for both space and water heating. Evaluate the most cost efficient tankless water heaters, radiant floor systems, and high efficiency heat pumps. Heating systems installed in lake homes can be chosen to save money by using less energy, and to maximize comfort through amenities like whole-floor radiant heat. For cooling, home positioning on the site to maximize healthy air flow, green roofs, window shading, and energy efficient ceiling fans can all help passively cool the home. Consider use of high efficiency air conditioning systems for optimal comfort in hot climates.