Long gone are the days of homes with small, boxy rooms and closed off areas. For many years now, open floor plans have been extremely popular in new home construction. Everyone is looking for better “sight lines,” “multi-purpose rooms,” and “great flow.” But what does that mean?
It may seem strange today, but years ago, closing off rooms was the best way to keep a house warm and save money on utilities. Homes were a series of boxes with doors that could be shut to restrict air flow, assuring that the main room (usually the kitchen or living room) would stay warmer. Heating systems and fireplaces could only heat so much area. However, as central heating became more efficient there was less of a need to close off rooms thus, doors and walls were removed, and open floor plans were designed.
How does an open floor plan affect the energy efficiency of your home? Read on to find out.
With an open floor plan, you can enjoy beautiful views in addition to having the sunshine throughout the house. An abundance of sunlight can help to reduce the amount of electricity used during daytime, as this sunlight would be enough to illuminate the entire area. When you have more natural light, you don’t rely on ceiling lights, and your utility bills will be reduced. In the colder months, allowing the windows to warm your house can also lower your heating bills.
Increased Air Circulation
Adding ceiling fans to your open floor plan will allow both warm and cool air (depending on the season) to flow throughout the house. Open windows offer a cross breeze and can reduce energy consumption and cost of utilities. Adequate air flow and ventilation to the entire house minimize the use of air-conditioning and heating systems, making your home more energy efficient.
Cleaning may seem logical, but it’s important to note. There is a lot of physical and electrical energy when cleaning a home with many rooms. In a house with an open floor plan, having everything in one area and on display means less vacuuming, dusting, etc. This saves on the amount of electrical and physical energy consumed as well as the time needed to clean the space.
BerHoff Homes in Neenah, WI
After more than 30 years of project management experience, John Hofferber knew he wanted to run his own business. In the winter of 2002, with the help of his son-in-law Kurt Wismer, he finally got the chance. They researched their competition and knew that instead of focusing on quantity, they would concentrate on quality. The two of them assure every customer that they will build a house that fits the customer’s needs and wants – a house that can truly be their forever home.
When you carefully choose your floor plan, HVAC system, and windows, in the long run, you will save money and resources. Your home will be more comfortable, eco-friendly, and better for entertaining. Call BerHoff Homes to build your dream home today!
The goal of building a true Zero Net home means, no gas bills and no electric bills.
BerHoff Homes are built to the highest efficiency levels. Their construction process defines their passion for the environment as well as the health of families living within their zero net energy homes.
The building process, form, and function of a Berhoff Home focuses on energy and water efficiency, making use of any and all natural green resources in building design and materials; and both indoor and outdoor environmental quality. That being said, most of the energy efficient processes, materials and technologies are tucked away and hidden from sight.
However, many of the energy-efficient qualities of Berhoff Homes' green homes are easy to spot like appliances, windows, and water heating systems which are ENERGY STAR® rated. Renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaic electricity and water heating systems, dramatically lower the energy consumption of the home as a whole. Every home Berhoff Homes constructs is ‘renewable energy ready’ for any number of renewable energy sources to be installed at any time.
Indoor air quality is raised and maintained by verifying that heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems (HVAC) are correctly sized and set to the size of the home. Strategically located fans replace stale damp air with fresh air regularly. Low-VOC paints and finishes also play a significant role in keeping a clean, fresh indoor environment.
All BerHoff Homes now meet the EPA Indoor airPLUS program. This keeps off-gassing at bay and minimizes its potential danger to your health at bay. The Green Design Center is a highly valued partner in this process.
Water usage plays a pivotal role in a pure energy efficient home, components can include;
• low flow water fixtures like toilets, faucets, and shower-heads
• ENERGY STAR® dishwashers and washing machines
• Programmed low-volume irrigation systems
• rainwater collection systems
• wastewater treatment
• heat recovery systems
• hot water re-circulation
The planning of the lot, including the size, shape, and orientation of the home should take advantage of the natural daylight, should keep lighting usage to a minimum, and should use this strategy to manage heat loss or gain, depending on the season.
When it comes to the landscape of a true energy efficient home, plants should be native to the area and climate. Care should be given to planning and grouping vegetation by required watering and sunlight consumption. Paved surfaces should be kept to a bare minimum; made up of gravel, permeable pavers, and natural stone or grid systems.
BerHoff Homes’ builds are tested and verified, using the LEED-H building program. The Focus on Energy program will be utilized for this purpose. The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program is our trusted partner in this process.
Providing for third-party verification on the energy efficiency certification of each of our homes, we are committed to environmental preservation and green building.
BerHoff Homes, LLC is honored to build LEED-H certified homes. Over 60 percent of the houses built by BerHoff Homes meet the Focus on Energy program requirements and exceed the minimum standards of the LEED-H program. These steps and verification's lead to higher resale values and higher quality homes.
For more information on Zero Net Homes by Berhoff Homes, Contact us.
New home buyers are exploring ways to build houses that do more than merely provide shelter. Our homes influence nearly every aspect of our lives: how often we visit friends, how well we sleep, and how safe we feel. It's where we spend most of our time. If we want to improve the lives of our families and loved ones, we need to start building healthy homes. But what constitutes a “Healthy Home”?
Healthy Homes Come in All Price Ranges
A “healthy” home plays a role in our overall wellness. It is a house that is pest-free, safe, clean, dry, well ventilated, thermally controlled, and contaminant-free. It also means using everything from safer stair rails to low VOC paint, and from installing air filters to large windows. The best part is, because many of these products have become mainstream, there are healthy homes in all price ranges. There's no need to spend extra on the house you want. So, what are some products that make a home healthier?
Windows offer sunlight, ventilation, and outdoor views. However, poorly insulated windows can allow cold and heat to leak through, increasing utility bills. Double glazing will block unwanted airflow as well as noise from the street and promote a quieter, better controlled, and more tranquil home environment. Correct window placement on a house can supply cross breezes, natural ventilation, and light – reducing the need for air conditioning and lamps. Be sure to use well insulated and double-glazed windows on your home.
Indoor Air Quality
Well-designed ventilation systems promote good indoor air quality. Because most people spend up to 70 percent of their lives inside their houses, air quality is central to a “healthy home”. There are many concerns regarding the presence of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in paint, flooring, furniture, and other building products. Because homes are being built more energy efficient, removing indoor pollutants is more complicated than just opening a few windows for fresh air.
Many builders have begun to specifically address air and health concerns by adding high-efficiency air filters, whole-house mechanical ventilation, and using low VOC paint, stain, and finishes.
Products That “Scrub” the Air
Manufacturers are developing products that work to improve air quality:
Not only are healthy homes good for our physical health, but they are also crucial for our mental health as well. Colors can be chosen to provide an environment of calmness and to relieve stress and anxiety. Quiet spaces should be made available for relaxation, meditation, reading, focused work, and privacy. Other areas can provide stimulation for play and social interaction. Kitchens should be designed to promote healthy eating and family gatherings, and bedrooms should offer spaces that encourage good sleep.
Wellness Versus Green
Although there seems to be a natural affinity between “green” and “healthy” houses, for some reason, most new home buyers find the latter more appealing. Everyone can appreciate a healthier home environment.
Today’s new homes often include floor plans and features that offer a sense of health and well-being. For several years, making a connection to the outdoors has been one of the strongest trends in home construction. Even in the Midwest, where the climate is not always conducive to being outdoors, clients want a deck or area that takes them outside. Having lots of natural light is also on everyone's list.
As lot sizes decrease, builders have gotten more creative with floor plans and landscaping to give their clients space for their activities. Indoor gyms, media rooms, and swimming pools are features being incorporated into the living areas. As home buyers are becoming more aware of health issues, air quality, VOCs, and environmental issues, they are becoming more particular in choosing their homes and how they are built.
Building Healthy Homes by Berhoff Homes Copyright 2018
Nearly 35 years ago, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) created the term “smart home” to describe a group advocating for the integration of technology into the process of home building. However, back then, the idea of controlling the lights, security system, or thermostat inside a residence via smartphone was something out of a science fiction novel. But as technology has grown, so has its uses.
What Is a Smart Home?
A smart home is a house that can provide its owners with security, energy efficiency, convenience, and comfort quickly and easily. All of the systems are integrated with technology, so they can be operated whether or not someone is inside. Appliances, heating and air conditioning, lights, security systems, and even computers and entertainment systems can communicate with one another and be controlled by internet or phone, either immediately or scheduled on a specific day.
Important Features and Benefits
This technology offers homeowners the benefit of convenience and the ability to save money, energy, and time. While older homes must be retrofitted with these systems, new homes can have everything built into them during the construction process. As a family's needs alter, these systems can grow and change with them.
A fundamental feature of smart homes is the focus on conserving the limited resources of our planet. Many Appleton home builders and homeowners are becoming sensitive to making their homes more-efficient and green by integrating systems which monitor energy usage. They can control HVAC, water irrigation, lighting, and more. This technology gives residents the knowledge and awareness to adjust them when necessary. For example, if homeowners decide to take an extra day of vacation and will now be away for a more extended period, they can use a laptop or smartphone from anywhere in the world to change the date when their home's air conditioning is adjusted.
The coming years offer even greater expansion for smart home building and technology. Consumers can expect more as devices like Alexa, Amazon Echo, and Google Home become increasingly sophisticated and commonplace.
The Future of Smart Homes
Technology will soon connect all personal devices with an ability to make life easier and monitor information. For example, in the near future, a car will keep track of how many miles it has been driven and how the tire treads are wearing. It will report to the driver when it's time to rotate the tires or have the oil changed. Monitors inside the house will alert the homeowner when lights have been left on, or the front door was opened. Interior temperatures will be adjusted if a room is unoccupied; family members will be notified if an elderly relative hasn't moved in a few hours; the refrigerator will order the food you've run out of, etc.
As technology grows and develops, it will be integrated into smart homes, giving more people the ability to use their resources efficiently and effectively. This will ultimately change how people live and work inside their homes.
Copyright 2018 - Berhoff Homes as featured on the #1 Appleton Home Builders Television and Digital Show.