The shape of your home may have a lot more to do with its energy consumption than you think. If you are planning a new home, you have the perfect opportunity to choose an energy-efficient modern house plan. Although most houses can benefit from standard improvements such as insulation, sealing leaks and updated heating and cooling equipment, homes that start out with a well-designed plan have potential to be much more energy efficient than the average home.
Essential Things of Energy Saving Modern House Plan
Orientation and Shape – Homes should be oriented toward the sun. In cold regions, homes should be compact and roughly square in plan to minimize surface area to mass ratio. In warm climates, floor plans may be more spread out. The long axis should almost always run east and west so that the long walls face south and north and the shorter walls face east and west. This orientation provides maximum opportunity for passive solar heating.
Solar Control – South windows allow solar rays to penetrate homes and provide passive solar heat gain. The amount of sun entering a space is easily controlled by overhangs, shade louvers and blinds. However, morning and evening sun in the east and west is low in the sky and more difficult to control. Evening sun is particularly intense. Especially in hot climates, east and west windows should be limited unless there is a good reason — for instance, if the best view is to the west. North windows provide good quality natural day lighting, but also are a source of heat loss so should be moderately sized.
Thermal Mass – Solar energy is stored inside homes in the mass of materials such as tile, exposed concrete floors or masonry walls. This mass holds heat and reradiates it back into the space. To be most effective, thermal mass should be exposed and not covered with an area rug or other insulating material. The surface of thermal mass exposed to the air is referred to as the absorber. A dark colored absorber helps the thermal mass absorb more heat than light colors.
Natural Ventilation – In warm climates, and during the summer season of temperate climates, natural ventilation keeps homes comfortable for longer without air conditioning. Operable windows on opposite sides of a home allow whole house ventilation. Open floor plans are easier to ventilate naturally. There are also times when ventilation is not desirable. In cold seasons, this quickly saps a home of its heat. In addition, protection from winter winds reduces heat loss, and can be achieved architecturally. For example, in areas with strong north winds, floor plans with storage, closets, garages and utility rooms on the north help insulate the cold side of the house and keep living spaces more comfortable.