Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Home Design Room Layout: Sketches Work Great!

Sketches on tracing paper in the preliminary design phase come in handy to see alternate room layouts and spatial relationships. Clients love the artistry involved and the human element to their design.

The client was unsure about whether to have the wood stove centered on the gable endwall or in the corner. The sketches were quick and extremely helpful in showing various furniture layouts as well as window and door options.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Current Home Design Trends

Trends in home design are moving away from specific rooms and space to materials and energy efficiency. This delightful (and beneficial) competition between neighbors, communities, and states to become more energy conscious and less dependent on fossil fuels has resulted in thousands of people reducing their carbon footprint.
Here are some of the current trends in home design:

  • 1. Reduce, reuse, recycle: More and more homeowners are looking to purchase recycled building materials to use in their new home. Timbers, siding, decking, trim, doors, brick, and stone are all great materials to reuse. Simple, bio-degradable materials are replacing resources that harm the environment.

  • 2. Here comes the sun: Solar energy systems, particularly solar hot water heaters and solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to produce electricity are extremely popular. The current tax credit is 30% of the total cost (product + installation), with no upper limit. (see ENERGY STAR for details)

  • 3. Size and flexibility matter: Small home designs are more popular than the rambling, spacious mansions of the past. Homeowners are addressing changes in lifestyle by replacing separate dining and living areas with large, multi-purpose family rooms, and adding sliding or pocket doors which allow flexibility in living space. First-floor bonus rooms which can be used as a home office or additional bedroom address changing needs.

  • 4. Save a buck: Let’s face it: low maintenance is in. Popular low maintenance materials include green flooring, tankless water heaters, ENERGY STAR appliances. Low-maintenance landscaping using native plants has a positive effect on the site by reducing irrigation, pesticides, and fertilizers – which means less time you will spend taking care of it.

  • 5. Accessibility: Universal home design address the comfort of people of all ages and abilities. Features that may be eliminated are spiral staircases, sunken or raised living rooms, and high cabinets or shelves. Wide hallways and low storage areas are incorporated into the home design without sacrificing the home’s beauty and appearance.

Going green makes $ense: with green technology and materials flooding the market, prices continue to come down, saving you money over the life of the material. Green home design is the start of the home’s life cycle – and undoubtedly its most important phase, as the home’s space, features, and systems are designed to work together as a whole for your benefit and comfort – and the environment’s.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Keeping a Green Home, Remotely

As seen in a recent online issue of The New York Times, soon you will be able to monitor the energy efficiency of your home on your cell phone, wherever you are.

The soon-to-be-released tool, called TREE (Tendril Residential Energy Ecosystem), will allow homeowners to turn appliances, heating, and cooling systems on and off from work, the theatre, or the kids’ soccer practice. Similar to a video game, TREE will integrate with a collection of tools to track energy consumption and broadcast the results to local and distant displays. If your electricity consumption rises above certain levels, a display will start flashing a different color, allowing you to decide which systems you can shut off.

TREE will compare your home’s energy consumption with similar sized homes in your neighborhood, make suggestions on how to reduce your energy, and predict how much lowering the thermostat will lower your bill. How's that for monitoring your carbon footprint?

TREE is expected to be released late this year. To read the full article, click here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Five Reasons to Use Solar Energy in Green Homes

Here are five good reasons to utilize a solar energy system in your new home:

1) Solar energy is clean and sustainable, which helps to protect the environment and does not contribute to global warming, acid rain, or smog

2) Solar energy reduces our dependency on power companies

3) Systems can be configured to meet virtually any power demand load

4) Advancements in solar energy systems have made them extremely cost effective. While costs for natural gas and petroleum continue to rise, solar energy technology continues to fall in price.

5) Most solar energy systems do not require any maintenance during their lifespan, and many carry warranties which cover their life spans of twenty to thirty years.

Still unsure? Check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s website on “Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy”. They have information, charts, and calculations to help you make the right decision.