Many contemporary homes are being built with an eye toward net-zero energy efficiency, a condition in which the energy produced by the home is equal to that consumed by the home.
A lot of the ideas for creating net-zero energy efficiency buildings involve installing solar panels and choosing highly insulative building materials for the walls, floors, and ceilings.
However, there are a number of interior design ideas that can increase a home’s energy efficiency, which leads to lower costs and reduced non-renewable energy consumption.
#1 – Strengthen the Window and Door Sealing
Although cracks in the window and door sealing may seem small, a surprising amount of heat and air is lost when the sealing is poorly designed and/or degraded, as air always looks for the path of least resistance.
During the cold days of winter and the hot days of summer, the need for weatherproofing windows and doors is felt particularly acutely, as precious HVAC costs accumulate faster, on a cost per square foot basis, at the point of window and door cracks than at any other surface in the home.
In addition, while the air flowing freely in and out of your building wrecks energy efficiency and elevates heating and cooling costs, air is not the only substance being transferred through the sieve-like sealing, as unwanted moisture and dirt are also likely being introduced to your building.
This can cause the paint around the doors and windows to crack, mold, and become caked in a mud-like paste–none of which are features you are likely to want to feature as strong points of your home’s ambiance.
After getting your doors and windows properly sealed, you can then have the trim painted–preferably in a light color–to match the feel of your home. For the windows, you can further enhance energy efficiency by adding trendy curtains and blinds, which can be opened and closed as needed to help manipulate solar heat and limit the time your HVAC unit runs.
#2 – Brighten Up The Living Spaces
Light colors are a major trend in interior design for aesthetic reasons, as white walls and surfaces not only give a home’s interior a sleek, modern feel, but they convey a sense of optimism and energy.
Even on their hit television show Property Brothers, the hosts, when planning a remodel, have been known to walk into darkly colored rooms and make statements to the effect of, “Ugh, this room is just so dark and depressing!”
Brightening your home’s interior not only creates a more pleasant living environment, but it can actually help make your home more energy-efficient, as light colors do a better job of reflecting natural light than darker colors, reducing the need to run your electric lights in daytime hours.
Re-painting your walls, doors, and cabinet facings is a great place to start in lightening up your home’s interior, but you should also look into white solid surface countertop options for your kitchen, as these will help reflect natural light in your cook space. In addition, solid surfaces are made from durable, nonporous materials, reducing the resources you will need for cleaning and replacement.
#3 – Add a Pocket Door Inside The Mudroom
While the image of the kids scrambling for their backpacks, coats, and lunchboxes before school in the morning is a charming glimpse of many people’s American dream, the energy-conscious person shudders at the door in the background, open for minutes on end as the young ones struggle to get their snow boots on.
Rather than heat the great outdoors in these situations, consider adding a pocket door to sequester the mudroom from the rest of the house. As pocket doors open and close by sliding into and out of the wall, they are unobtrusive and look natural whether opened or closed, creating a sleek means of adding insulation to your living spaces.
Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.