Tips for Designing Energy-Efficient Thermal-Enveloped Houses:
In an energy-efficient house design, care must be taken to ensure that the thermal envelope is meticulously planned and operated in a manner that protects the interior. from the house against the outside world. The term thermal envelope includes roofs, foundations, interior walls, insulation, windows, doors, finishes or specialized treatments, fireproofing agents and all other barricades against the external elements.
- Air-Sealing: In the thermal envelope, all air leaks must be sealed to ensure proper indoor environment. Areas of concern often include irregular shaped areas around the exterior access ducts of the appliance and around any prefabricated window, skylight or door installation.
- Steam / Air Delayers: The most common residential water or steam control systems for the thermal envelope area are the Simple CS System or the drywall airtight systems. Both types of systems require an airtight installation of drywall and sheet material, so seal everything well the first time.
- Foundations and Slabs: Basement walls, floors and crawl spaces must all be insulated to the same or more R-value as the living areas of the house.
- Insulation: Forget what building codes say about insulation. In an energy-efficient house, everything is done with higher R-values. An empirical rule would be to aim for R-30 + in walls, and R-70 + for ceilings, basements and foundations.
- Windows: Unless you have experience in passive solar techniques, it is best to keep the window area to less than 10% of the floor area. Even with high quality windows, an undesirable increase in heat or heat reduction will occur inside the thermal envelope due to overuse of windows.
As part of an energy-efficient domestic design, care is also taken to control ventilation in the sealed thermal envelope and to initiate safety and comfort factors related to heating and cooling systems. In some situations, landscaping also plays a role in this style of home design where water runoff is controlled by the drainage of subsystems and the use of specialized pavers to retain grass instead of traditional plantations.