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Building a home addition is a thrilling experience, because it gives you control over every aspect of your home design. You can eliminate all of your key annoyances like poorly placed windows that bring too much heat into your Sarasota, Florida, home while incorporating money-saving features such as efficient lighting and low-flow faucets.

Done right, building a new home addition will give you many opportunities to improve your home’s design and minimize energy costs, from the roofing down. Make sure you consider all the possibilities and address each part of the addition mindfully for the most efficient results.

Door and Window Installations

No matter where you’re building onto the home, you’ll need to incorporate doors in your design. In the vast majority of additions, windows are a key element as well. It’s easy to get lost in the aesthetics of door and window design and forget about the crucial logistics around your entry and exit points.

Doors and windows have energy efficiency ratings that let you know how effective they are at preventing heat gain or loss. The U-factor lets you know how quickly non-solar heat flow passes through a door or window. The lower this number is, the more efficient your choice.

The solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) is another important number to look at. This tells you how much solar radiation the door or window transmits or absorbs. A higher SHGC rating indicates that the product can collect solar heat efficiently. While this is effective at reducing heating costs in a cool climate, it’s not appropriate for our Floridian weather. Here, you want a lower SHGC rating, which indicates that the product blocks heat gain and decreases cooling loads.

Though beautiful, wood is the least efficient choice for doors and windows. Fiberglass or insulated steel is much better. You can add weatherstripping to increase energy efficiency on any door or window. Some doors come equipped with a magnetic strip that acts as weatherstripping, eliminating the need for this extra step.

Window Placement

When you’re building a home addition, you can choose where each window is placed and situate these for the most efficient effect. Avoid east- and west-facing windows when possible, as these will experience the most heat gain from sunlight. In Florida, heat from the sun is intense. Utilizing north- or south-facing windows is a better option.

Shade your windows if you can, whether this means building an awning on the outside of the house or using smart tree placement to keep the sun’s rays from shining directly into the room. Avoiding direct sunlight will help protect your furniture and home décor as well as reduce your utility expenses. When direct sunlight streams through a window, it damages anything it shines on, fading fabrics, paints, and wall hangings. Design your addition for indirect sunlight whenever possible.

Adequate Insulation

The best time to insulate a room is during the construction phase. If you’re building a home addition, you’re in the perfect position to add efficient insulation. Florida residents should insulate their walls with a product that’s rated R-13 or higher. For the attic, use insulation rated at least R-38. Design your addition so your home has a continuous layer of insulation around the entire envelope. This will give you the most efficient seal.

Heating and Cooling

Comfort is an important consideration for your new home addition. If you have a central heating and cooling system, you’ll likely want to carry your ductwork through into the addition. Work with a contractor who can provide custom duct fabrication for your addition so you have as few turns in the new construction design as possible. Insulate your ducts when you put them in to keep air from escaping.

Depending on the placement of your home addition, you may want to consider using zoned heating and cooling for it. With the right installation and smart thermostat, you can divide your home into zones and manage temperature and humidity independently in each area. This is a great money-saver if you have parts of the home that you don’t need to heat or cool during the day.

If you don’t want to connect your home addition to central heating and cooling, consider adding an energy-efficient, space-cooling installation like a heat pump. Despite their name, heat pumps can provide both heating and air conditioning. Installation is simple with just a small hole in the wall connecting the interior and exterior units.

Energy-Efficient Appliances

Does your home addition include new appliances? Appliances are a major investment, so take the time to make sure you’re choosing the right ones. Look for Energy Star certified products for everything from your washer and dryer to refrigerator, range, and dishwasher.

The Energy Star label indicates that these appliances use less energy and water, thus reducing your home utility expenses. An Energy Star refrigerator purchased today will use 40 percent less energy than a convention model from 2001. An Energy Star dishwasher will save you over 5 gallons of water per cycle when compared to a model from before 1994.

Cool Roofing

Designing a home addition gives you the opportunity to address energy efficiency from the floor to the ceiling, including the roof. A cool roof is one that’s designed to reflect sunlight in order to keep heat away from the house and minimize energy absorption. You can use any highly reflective material to construct a cool roof.

If your roof has a low slope, you can use a reflective single-ply membrane as your cool roof. For a steeply sloped roof, install cool asphalt shingles or naturally reflective tile. Paint a metal roof with a cool reflective coating to minimize heat gain. In Florida, cool roofs can go a long way toward reducing your cooling costs by battling the harsh, hot rays of the sun.

Efficient Water Fixtures

Are you installing new plumbing in your home addition? If you’re building a bathroom, kitchen, bar, or even a garage, plumbing can play a major role in this new extension. Reduce your water expenses from the very beginning by choosing high-efficiency plumbing fixtures.

If you’re choosing a new toilet, look for one with an insulated tank to get rid of condensation. A large accelerator flush valve will help you resist clogs and minimize the need for plumbing services. You’ll also want to look for a toilet that reduces the amount of water used per flush. Compared to standard toilets, those with the WaterSense label have the potential to reduce water use by 20 to 60 percent.

Check the flow rate for all your plumbing fixtures when you’re comparing new installations. Choose faucets and showerheads that are low-flow. These use less water while offering a very comparable experience. You can quickly minimize the amount of water that flows down the drain as you rinse dishes or take your shower simply by picking the right plumbing units.

Efficient Lighting

Think carefully about how you want to use each part of the room when you’re wiring it for light fixtures. The most efficient solution is a combination of whole-room lighting and task lighting that’s customized for the way you’ll use the space.

If someone is simply reading in a corner of the bedroom, they shouldn’t be forced to turn the room’s ceiling light on. For this job, a dedicated lamp is best. In a bathroom, consider adding a dimmer light near the tub for a relaxing bath as well as bright lighting over the mirror for taking care of hair and makeup. When you have the right light for the job, you don’t have to waste energy using an all-purpose solution that doesn’t meet your needs as well.

Choose energy-efficient bulbs like halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Wire your lights to timers, dimmers, or photocells for more control over your lighting. These efficient alternatives can use as much as 80 percent less energy when compared to traditional incandescents.

Make sure your home addition is as efficient as possible from top to bottom. If you need a professional hand with air conditioning installation, plumbing, or electrical repair, contact Aqua Plumbing & Air at 941-306-3715. We’ll help you choose the most effective and affordable picks for your home.

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