Greenovision Featured in Local Publications

We recently did some writing for two local publications!

Please check our article on passive solar homes in the Bozeman Magpie Magazine:

Bring On the Sun: Homes keen to solar rising in Bozeman

We also wrote a tidbit on energy efficient homes for The Bozone that was printed in the March 15, 2014 edition. Unfortunately,  that edition is no longer available to view online, so here it is reprinted below:

Energy Efficiency 101

True story: We recently ran into some Bozeman friends who told us that they’ve spent $25,000 in the last four years on their home energy bills. That’s enough money for a down payment on a new home! Thinking that their electricity consumption was the main source of their high-energy costs, they purchased a solar panel array last summer. However, come winter, they saw no significant reduction in their energy bills.

They realized that it was the heating of their home that was so costly. Now they are going through the expensive and messy process of tearing apart their roof to add more insulation. They admitted that when looking for a home ten years ago, they wish they had just built a new, energy-efficient home in the first place.

In the long run, it would have saved them money and certainly would have saved them the anguish of an energy remodel. If you need to go through an energy remodel yourself or are interested in designing and building a new, energy-efficient home, here are five tips to keep in mind:

1. Design for passive solar heat gain. The sun is a free heating source, so why not tap into it? In passive solar home design, windows and floors are constructed to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter. Through proper design, solar heat is rejected in the summer to prevent over heating. Orientation of the house to the South, correct window types and heights, adequate roof overhangs, heat-retaining mass (such as radiant concrete flooring), and air exchange are just a few of the important components of a passive solar home.

2. Design to reduce your home energy needs. While investing in renewable energy technologies such as solar panels and liquid solar arrays is important for off-setting your home energy costs, it is equally important to design your home to consume less energy in general. Think of the Three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Designing a home with plenty of well-insulated windows not only provides views of the outdoors from within, but also allows ample sunlight to enter the home. By illuminating rooms with natural light, you eliminate the need to run energy-consumptive light bulbs during the day. The same windows can be designed into the home to promote natural airflow and ventilation. This passive cooling strategy reduces the need to run electric air conditioners and fans in the summer.

3. Build with high-insulation, quality, and long-lasting materials. Building and designing your home with a high insulation value is important for keeping heat in during the winter and out during the summer. Calling for advanced framing techniques reduces thermal conductivity and helps keep the home tightly sealed. By building with quality, long-lasting materials, you reduce unnecessary repair and maintenance to your home, which ultimately saves money and is better for the environment. Quality materials also often contain fewer off-gassing toxins, which results in a healthier living environment.

4. Don’t throw beauty out the window. If you have decided that energy-efficiency is a priority for your new home, it doesn’t mean that you need to settle for a “generic-looking” house. Contrary to popular belief, energy-efficient homes can be beautiful and comfortable. Your home interiors can be designed and decorated to suit your personal tastes while being highly functional at the same time. The exterior appearance of your home can be an aesthetically engaging addition to your environment.

5. Hire a home designer that is skilled in energy-efficiency design strategies. Most designers and architects have a certain niche; be sure to find a professional that is experienced in energy-efficiency. It is always more difficult to make energy improvements on a home that is already built, so it is important to implement energy efficiency strategies and technologies while the home is still in the design phase. Spending more up front on energy-efficient design, technology, and materials will ultimately result in a more affordable home because the yearly savings on your energy bills will exceed the costs of the additional infrastructure.

Mark Pelletier and Emily Varmecky are co-owners of Greenovision Home Design. At Greenovision, we custom design beautiful, energy-efficient homes that stand apart from your neighbors. We believe that cookie cutters are for making cookies, not for home design!