“Building with ICFs decreases your utility bills 40%-60% each month and makes your home quiet, comfortable and disaster resistant.”
BuildBlock Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs) are the strongest and most energy-efficient building material available today. ICFs are used to build homes, schools, churches, and other commercial buildings. Choosing ICFs for your next construction project means saving money every month and feeling secure in your home.
ICF Energy Efficiency Provides Many Benefits
The high thermal mass and minimal air infiltration of insulating concrete form walls create a more uniform and stable temperature throughout your home. You’ll have no more hot spots or cold drafts.
Where does my home lose efficiency the most?
Every home is different based on the materials and techniques used to build it. But in general, the areas that affect energy loss the most are walls, windows, doors, ceilings, floors, ducts, infiltration, and internal gain. Many of these are pretty simple to understand.
Exterior walls change the most based on the weather outside. ICF walls (because of their insulation on both sides as well as the concrete sandwiched in the middle) do not rapidly change back and forth between the heating and cooling day and night. The concrete is referred to as “thermal mass.” Basically, because of the thickness and density of the ICF wall, it takes so long to change the temperature one direction or the other, the temperature instead stays fairly constant.
Windows don’t have the same thickness, insulation, or thermal mass of ICF or even wood walls. New technology such as multiple panes of glass, sealed gas-filled panes, and thermal sheeting make newer windows highly efficient. The natural heating and cooling cycle does affect windows more than walls and is one area where any structure will lose or gain heat.
Keeping the door closed like your mom always told you is a great defense against heating or cooling the outdoors. As we enter and leave the home heating or cooling is lost.
The ceiling borders non-climate controlled space, otherwise known as the attic. Insulated attics still heat and cool based on the weather outside and conduct those changes through to the interior of your home. Using an insulated roof or decking system such as BuildDeck can shield your ceilings from the heat loss or gain. Also, you can use spray foam insulation to further insulate the space and provide more protection from changes in temperature.
You can lose as much as 15% of the heat or cooling in your home through your floors. Many homes are built on a crawlspace or concrete slab foundations. Energy can leech from the ground and into your home.
Whether overhead or in the ground, air ducts in the attic or in the walls can be a source of energy loss. Make sure your ducts are well sealed, clear of debris and dust, and insulated.
Air infiltration is better known as drafts. Electrical plugs, doors, poorly sealed windows and plumbing can all lead to drafts. ICFs eliminate most of these because the electrical chases and plumbing are just cut into the foam and are not exposed to the outside.
Usually, the largest sources of internal heat gain come from appliances. Eliminating these can not only directly reduce energy usage (if the appliances aren’t running, they are not using energy), but indirectly they keep the temperature of the building, lower thus reducing the energy used by the air conditioner. Stoves/Ovens, Incandescent lighting, dishwashers, clothes dryers, showers, computers, and television all give off heat. This heat isn’t such a bad thing in the winter, but during the summer it adds to our cooling bills. ICFs are much better because you’re maintaining such a standard temperature, the internal gains are fairly constant.
Energy Efficiency Explained
How to measure Energy Efficiency
Heating and Air Conditioning systems are measured in British Thermal Units per Hour (BTUh). The heat extracted from your home by an air conditioner is measured in BTUs while cooling and heating capacities are referred to in British Thermal Units per hour. For reference, 12,000 BTUh equals one ton of cooling.
Home Energy Rating System (HERS)
The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index is the INDUSTRY STANDARD by which a home’s energy efficiency is measured. It’s also the NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED system for inspecting and calculating a home’s energy performance. See the HERS system explained here: http://www.resnet.us/hers-index
ENERGY STAR is a government-backed program helping businesses and individuals reduce energy costs and protect the environment through superior energy efficiency.
ENERGY STAR is a voluntary labeling program developed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1992 to promote awareness of energy-efficient products. Manufacturers partner with the EPA to label high-efficiency systems with the ENERGY STAR label so homeowners can easily identify those higher-efficiency products that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy.
The minimum efficiency required by the EPA for ENERGY STAR recognition includes air conditioner and heat pump units with a SEER of 14.5 or above, 12 EER, or HSPF of 8.2 or above.
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio
The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures air conditioning and heat pump cooling efficiency, which is calculated by the cooling output for a typical cooling season divided by the total electric energy input during the same time frame. A higher SEER rating means greater energy efficiency.
EER stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio
Like SEER, the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of a cooling unit is determined by the output cooling divided by the electrical power input. As opposed to SEER which is calculated over a range of outside temperatures, EER is typically determined by a set outside air temperature, a set inside air temperature and a 50% relative humidity. For a comparison point, 11 EER is roughly equivalent to 13 SEER.
HSPF stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor
The Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) is used to measure the efficiency of the heat pump. The HSPF is a ratio of the heat output to electricity use over an average heating season, and the higher the HSPF the greater the energy efficiency.
AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency
The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) is a measure of a gas furnace’s efficiency in converting fuel to energy, by projecting the average thermal efficiency for a complete heating season. A higher AFUE rating means greater energy efficiency.