“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.
BuildBlock ICF Energy Efficiency
ICF Energy Efficiency Provides Many Benefits
Better Efficiency, Bigger Savings, and Greater Comfort
The high thermal mass and minimal air infiltration of insulating concrete form walls create a more uniform and stable temperature throughout your home. ICF walls offer better energy efficiency to reduce your monthly energy bill and create a solid barrier to eliminate hot or cold spots giving greater comfort.
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 do not rapidly change back and forth between the heating and cooling day and night. The concrete is referred to as “thermal mass.”
Windows don’t have the same thickness, insulation, or thermal mass of ICF or even wood walls. 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.
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. 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.
Use Insulating Concrete Forms for Better Energy Efficiency
Simply stated, Michigan is cold in the winter. Temperatures drop even lower as you get closer to the water. Since the Darga Residence is built directly on the shore of Lake Michigan, it was extremely important for it to retain heat during the brutal winter months. Due to their insulating qualities, Insulating concrete forms are the perfect solution for extreme weather conditions. Nicolas told us that even on the coldest days, the furnace only runs a maximum of 90 minutes. The Darga’s open living room is framed with a beautiful puddingstone fireplace and hearth. Even if the power goes out, the ICF walls retain enough heat from the fireplace to keep the home warm and comfortable.
Bonobo Winery, Michigan
Todd and Carter Oosterhouse evaluated a range of other options including poured walls, wood framed, and CMU, but ICFs provided strength, made the many corners in the design simple, and added value to the building. With a background in green construction and remodeling, they were convinced that whatever they built needed to be as energy efficient as possible. This is not only to keep costs low but also to be able to create a consistent product.
Some wineries have a production facility that is separate from the tasting room and the public side of the winery. Bonobo brings both together with an event center and a small restaurant. To do this, the structure needed to be cost-effective and energy efficient. The most important room in the winery is the barrel room. The barrel room and production facility are the major reasons they chose to build ICF. The barrel room is a 2,000 square foot room on the lower level in the southwest section of the winery. The long outside wall in this room faces west and really gets pounded in the summer from the sun and by the fierce wind off Lake Michigan in the winter.
Even during the extremely cold Michigan winter, this area is very stable. The heaters kick on once a week for a short time and that keeps the lower level stable at about 60 degrees. Even during the summer with no air conditioning, the lower level is stable at 65 degrees.
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.
Developed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1992 to promote awareness of energy-efficient products, ENERGY STAR is a voluntary labeling program. 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.