Most everyone positions their house for the best view. But, that
doesn't always give you the best energy efficiency. If the view also
exposes a large portion of your home to the south or west sun, you're
asking for high energy bills -- especially in the summer.
With temperatures hitting the 110o
mark from time to time and heat waves lasting for weeks at a time, I can
guarantee a south or west exposure will get very old very quickly.
If you're determined to get the view, then plan for the heat at the
same time. Plant fast growing trees, make big overhanging porches, or
find some other ways to shade the hot sides of your home. Until you do,
those sides will be virtually unlivable during the hot summer months.
But, the good news is that the Sacramento Shade organization says that
trees can reduce your monthly air conditioning bill by up to 40%!
Energy-efficient landscaping ideas
The west side of this house was exposed to the harsh heat. Trees were
planted immediately, and a large shrub against the west wall. Then a
structure was built for wisteria to grow shading the lower portion of
the house completely. Now, the downstairs portion of this house stays so
cool that only a whole house fan is needed in late afternoon to bring
some of the cool air upstairs to cool it down. Air conditioning is only
Shrubs that grow under windows are allowed to grow up and cover
windows exposed to the south or west during the summer to protect from
the heat of the sun. In the winter, these same shrubs are cut below the
windows to allow the sun in for the solar heating effect.
Tap Existing Energy Sources -- water, wind, solar
Energy Commission frequently offers cash rebates on eligible
renewable energy electric-generating systems.
You can get a rebate of up to $3,000 per kilowatt, or 50 percent off
your system purchase price (whichever is less), making it more
affordable to generate your own electricity using renewable energy.
This program is called the Emerging Renewables Buy-Down Program.
Energy Efficient Alternate Styles of Construction
The straw-bale wall has the best energy performance because it has
the highest R-value by a wide margin. For the entire building, changes
in just the wall construction change the heating load by plus or minus
twenty percent from the R-19 wood frame base case.
In addition to energy efficiency, straw bale offers an opportunity to
create some unusual designs not affordable with traditional methods of
construction. For instance, walls can be "sculpted" providing
rounded corners near windows and doors, or recessed areas in or outside
According to experts, using radiant floor heating via solar panels
and fuel cell technology (the hope is that the current energy crisis
will drive fuel cell technology costs down), and you can be completely
independent of the "grid".
There are many very comprehensive sites on the web to study. Here are
those that I think offer the best data.
Details on other renewable energy sources (wind, water, solar) as
well at additional alternate, energy efficient building methods
are available at the Consumer
Energy Center as well.
All photos on this site are
copyrighted. Many are available to purchase, however, at www.19thCentury.us