Ultra-Efficient Homes: Costs and Benefits to Consider

by Rose Wolkins 07/11/2021

Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

An ultra-efficient home is one that's designed and constructed not only to save you energy but provide its own. This means it uses no more renewable energy that it generates. To the novice homeowner, this may sound impossible. However, to the architects and engineers who specialize in designing this type of abode, it's all in a day's work.

How Can a House Be Its Own Energy Source?

Using a whole-house systems approach, architects use materials that are designed to harness and trap energy from the sun. Homeowners then use this energy to heat the water and air inside the home. It takes careful planning to design and build an ultra-efficient house, and the costs of construction usually reflect this. However, once built, this type of structure uses little in the way of traditional energy, and utility bills may even be nonexistent.

To provide its own energy, a home must feature south-facing windows and unobscured access to the sun. As the sun rises throughout the day, it shines into the windows and is collected by materials inside the home - usually a wall made of masonry or a tiled floor. Heat is stored in these materials according to their thermal mass. As the sun goes down and the day cools, heat stored in the thermal mass keeps temperatures inside the home comfortable.

There are controls in place to prevent the home from overheating. Usually they comprise window awnings, blinds or landscaping that limits the amount of sunlight that's allowed to enter during the hottest hours of the day.

What Types of Materials Are Used in Ultra-Efficient Homes?

Builders who construct ultra-efficient homes use materials that are functional for collecting and storing heat as opposed to ones that are simply attractive. These include:

  • Glazed glass

  • Brick

  • Recycled Steel

  • Spray foam insulation

  • Radiant barrier sheathing

  • Concrete

Most materials used in the construction of your ultra-efficient home will serve a purpose while looking beautiful and modern. They're filled with natural light and rich finishes that lend themselves well to heat absorption. The temperature and humidity inside the home is always comfortable, and if you have a utility bill, it won't fluctuate with the seasons.

What Does It Cost to Build an Ultra-Efficient Home?

It may cost as much as 7 percent more to build an ultra-efficient home as opposed to a more traditional design. However, you'll usually recoup that extra investment in under 10 years. By using energy-efficient materials, appliances and building techniques, the day-to-day costs of home operation are greatly reduced. As a result, the money you would usually spend on heating and cooling can begin going back into your savings account from the day you move in.

Can you afford to build an ultra-efficient home? The answer to this question may surprise you. There are several government grants and programs designed to encourage homeowners to build or upgrade to energy-efficient homes, according to Energy.gov. Some come as annual tax credits. Others are available as grants or as Energy-Efficient Mortgages (EEMs). Make sure to look into these options if you're interested in an ultra-efficient home.

About the Author

Rose Wolkins

REALTOR® Rose Wolkins has been building a long list of satisfied San Diego home buyers and sellers since she began her real estate career in 1988.

Her motto “Building lifelong relationships one home at a time” exemplifies both her attitude and the care and commitment with which she serves each client. It all begins with communication – in listening well, being readily available to answer questions, and keeping clients fully informed throughout their transactions. She’s also known for staying one step ahead of things, so she can keep transactions on track and address issues before they become problems.

Always striving to do the best for her clients, Rose stays current with changes in laws and technology through taking numerous classes throughout the year. She also stays current with the ever-changing San Diego housing market.

While she thoroughly enjoys using her advertising, photography, staging, marketing, and negotiating skills to successfully sell her listings, her favorite part of the business is handing overjoyed buyers the keys to their new home. She loves sharing the joy.

In addition to supporting her clients, Rose supports the real estate industry and was voted chairperson for the North County Real Estate District Coordinating Committee several years in a row. Voted a 5 Star Top Real Estate Agent for the past several years and now again in 2020, she’s also a member of the Women’s Council of Realtors.

In her free time, Rose enjoys reading, gardening, exercising, using her considerable photography skills, and spending quality time with friends and family. When you’re looking for a San Diego agent who knows the territory well and who will dedicate herself to turning your real estate goals in to reality, take this advice from her past clients: “Call Rose Wolkins.”