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How an Energy-Efficient Home Can Lower Your Winter Bills in West Michigan

Maintaining a totally energy-efficient home can be a lot of work, especially during the intense West Michigan winters. But an energy-efficient home built with quality construction is really the only way to ensure that you and your family stay warm and comfortable all season long — without paying sky-high energy bills. 

 

If you live in an older home, and because heat can escape from the unlikeliest of places, you’ll probably need to conduct a pricey energy audit to even know what to look for. Then there’s the time and expense of caulking, sealing, insulating, replacing materials and products, and more to treat the heat loss. What a job!

 

Luckily, when you buy a new home in the Grand Rapids area, energy efficiency is often built right into the construction process, lowering your home maintenance and energy costs for many years. At Heartland Builders, our homes are so energy efficient and air tight that homeowners pay an average of 38.5% less per month on their energy bills than owners of older, used homes.

 

Create Heat More Efficiently 

Up to half of a home’s energy is used for heating and cooling interior spaces. Today’s energy efficient furnaces provide maximum heat with minimum gas usage by electronically monitoring the thermostat to ensure precise temperature control. Having the right sized HVAC system for your house is also critically important to maintain even temperatures room-to-room and control humidity levels. 

 

Prevent Heat Loss 

 

Your furnace works hard to warm your home. The number one thing you can do to lower your energy bills is to prevent that heat from escaping, so that it doesn’t have to work even harder. While effectively sealing air leaks around floors, walls, ceilings, windows, doors, fireplaces, and outlets (yes, outlets!) is a given, the right insulation and window glass will help trap heat and keep it right where you need it.

  • Effective Insulation Solutions: Homes in West Michigan need to be able to withstand low temperatures that regularly dip into the teens and single digits. For maximum heat retention and comfort, 2×6 exterior wall construction allows for open cell foam insulation to fill a wider space without breaks or gaps, resulting in less air leakage. In attics and around doors and windows, we use lots of caulk and foam to create an airtight barrier. Lastly, we wrap your home using ZIP System® wall sheathing for a superior weather resistant barrier.
  • Qualified Low-E Windows and Sliding Glass Doors: Inefficient windows are notorious for ushering your hard-won heat right out of your house. Low-emissivity coatings on glass windows and doors reflect the home’s interior heat and bounce it right back into the spaces where you need it the most. (Fun fact: Low-E windows do the exact same thing to exterior heat from the sun in the summer, keeping the inside of your home cooler in warmer months).

 

Efficiently Maintain Hot Water Temperature

When the temperature outside dips below freezing (and stays there!), maintaining hot water for bathing and cleaning can use LOTS of energy. Traditional water heaters (those big, unsightly tanks), are very good at constantly heating stored water to whatever the thermostat is set to, but that comes at a major cost. There’s a better way.

  • Efficient Water Heaters: Tankless gas water heaters are the best option to keep your water hot and your energy bills low. They allow for endless hot water (no more hot water running out when the last person in the family showers), save a ton of space, and don’t pose a flood-risk when they expire. 

 

Get Smart About Your Thermostat

Smart thermostats increase efficiency in your heating and cooling system by learning how long it takes your system to reach your desired temperature, and activating the system earlier, so that your home is how warm or cool you want it to be, at the precise moment you want it. Smart thermostats that allow for multiple programming settings — like auto-adjusting on the weekends or when you are not home as often — will save you both money and the hassle of remembering. 

 

Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

In rooms with ceilings of normal height, fans can keep you just as warm in the winter as they keep you cool in the summer, and can potentially lower your energy bill. At the first sign of cool weather, reverse the direction your ceiling fans turn — so that they are spinning clockwise — to pull cool air upward and push down the warmer air that naturally rises to the ceiling. Just be sure blades are spinning at the lowest possible setting.

All of these systems work together in a new Heartland home to keep your space as toasty as you’d like, for a lot less money. Here are some other quick tips that you can implement daily to keep your home warmer in the West Michigan winters!

  • Open the curtains and blinds on a sunny day, close them at night
  • After using the oven, leave it open to let the heat warm your kitchen and open living spaces
  • Close doors and narrow air vents in rooms you don’t use often. (Don’t close vents all the way as you don’t want the room to reach freezing temperatures. That could freeze pipes in the walls and take more energy to re-heat.)
  • Put rugs down on hard surface floors to create more soft surface area, which holds heat more effectively

Have questions about building a new, energy-efficient home in Grand Rapids or any of its surrounding areas? Contact us — we can help!