Energy Costs in Timber Frame Homes

Energy costs in timber frame homes has always been one of the items we bring to the table when we discuss the advantages of timber frames.  The cost to heat and cool a home that’s wrapped in structural insulated panels is typically low.   As we designed our home, we wanted plenty of natural light, but understand all too well that windows are the least efficient wall space.  However, our utility bills continue to please us.

We heat and cool our house with electricity.  Propane to cook and for the tankless water heater runs less than $100 a year.  In the past twelve months, our electricity has cost less than $886. While we watch our usage, we comfortable and don’t live in a dark, cold home.  Even with an abundance of windows, our costs average $2.41 per day for electricity.  Timber frame homes offer these economies naturally.Bonnie Pickartz Electric Costs in Timber Frame Homes

As we discuss designing homes with our clients, we consider daylighting, air flow, and overhangs to be an important part of the design process.  Homes shouldn’t only be beautiful, they should be comfortable and efficient.  We bring this altogether in the final design.

Energy costs will continue to rise, so it is always important to consider ways to make homes more efficient. This alone will minimize the money spent in the future to heat and cool a home.  Adding a well insulated envelope to the items on your wish list in your new home is the most effective way to save money long term.  Today we can’t stress the importance of this too much.  Save money…daily.

So, consider your options, and when you build…build boldly!

BonniePickartzSnow

 

 

Energy Efficiency in Timber Frame Homes

Timber frame homes are beautiful, inspiring, charming, and all of the wonderful words that you can consider.  And, when properly designed and constructed, they are also amazingly energy efficient. This doesn’t happen by accident, but with intentional design and construction.

Designing for not only beauty, but also for energy efficiency, should be goals from the start.  You will need to consider size, style, orientation, daylighting, and all the other subtle ways that you can plan forward.  Make it known early in your design meetings that you want your home to be sustainable and to minimize energy usage.

Plan forward for energy efficient fixtures and appliances and to use energy efficient bulbs.  Don’t save money with inefficient appliances and windows.  They will cost you daily.

Structural Insulated Panels are the enclosure of choice for many timber frame companies.  Timber frame homes  and hybrid homes work well with panel systems. A tight home and a well insulated home don’t necessarily go hand in hand, but a well installed panel system covers it all.

We not only promote energy efficiency, but we live it.  Our own 1700 square foot timber frame home, with lots of windows and vaulted ceilings, uses only $2.34 per day ($835 for the year) in electricity.  We heat and cool with a heat pump and don’t have a fireplace or any auxiliary heat source.  We have an electric dryer and a dishwasher.

Last year our energy usage was $3.08 per day ($1,123 for the year).  We had a much colder winter, but we also made some common sense changes.   We don’t run the dishwasher until it’s full.  We hang some clothes out to dry.  Simple choices have saved us almost $300 per year.

So think forward.  Plan your home to save those energy dollars and to be comfortable.  Build a home you’ll love and whatever you do, Build Boldly!

 

 

Building Timber Frames – First Steps

When building your timber frame home, it’s important that you consider your site first and foremost. Your land will define your timber frame. From looking for land to evaluating a site, there is no step more critical to your building process.

Several years ago a guide called “The Mountain Home Guide” was published.  We felt that it was important enough to post permanently on the Internet and maintain the site where you can read it or download the PDF version to read off line.  This little booklet offers insight into the steps you should take when considering a piece of property.  While it was written for the mountains, most of the information works no matter where you’re building. 

Timber frames are meant to sit lightly on the land.  Because they are sustainable and energy efficient, they are the perfect choice for a home that will last for generations.  If you chose the land for your site wisely, you will be well served.

The Mountain Home Guide offers common sense advice on many of the key decisions you’ll make as you buy and develop your homesite.  We offer it as important reading you’ll need to do before you purchase your land and as you move forward.

And wherever you build, remember to Build Boldly!

 

Winter in Timber Frame Homes

Many wished for a white Christmas, and many got their wish. The Christmas Storm of 2010 will be remembered as one that snuck upon the East Coast and the South, bringing snow to places that hadn’t seen Christmas snow for decades…or ever. Homes were cloaked in white. Timber frame homes were especially beautiful, with their white roofs and lights through the windows.

Goshen timber frame homes are wrapped in energy efficient panels, keeping the cold out and the warm in. Even with vaulted ceilings and expansive open spaces, no heat was lost. Roofs showed no warm air escaping, no tell-tale lines of heat leaking into the cold.

Timber frame homes are classic.  They can be designed to fit any style that pleases you and can be designed to fit any locale, any neighborhood.   They can have walls of windows to help “daylight” the home and to bring the outdoors in.

Timber frames make perfect smaller homes.  With no need for load bearing walls, spaces open up easily and with flexibility unavailable in other types of construction.

So as you ponder your dream home, think timber frame.  Check out the timber frame plans at Goshen Timber Frames and sign up to be the first to see new plans at TimberStead.  And however you build, build boldly!

Green Building Notes – Designing Your Timber Frame

The design of your timber frame home will determine how well you live in it and how much you enjoy it.  Size does matter and with careful planning, a smaller home can provide more appropriate and more liveable space than a much larger home.  There is much to be said of the “human scale”.  We all live more comfortably in space that fits our scale.

The style of your new home will be your next critical decision.   The style should fit with the local vernacular.   It should look and feel like it belongs in the area.  If you are building in an area of eclectic  homes, many styles built over many years, you have lots of options.  If you are building in an area where the homes are more similar than dissimilar, think about a home that will blend in.  Mistakes, such as building a log home in an area of very traditional homes,  will decrease the value of your home.   Keep colors and finishes in mind as you work on the design of your home.  While we each want our homes to be unique and charming, we don’t want to own the home that everyone means when they say “oh, yes, that house”. Timeless architecture will serve you much better than a trendy style.   By building a home with fewer corners and using simple geometry you maximize your budget and minimize building materials.

The size of your home should be determined by the needs of your family.  If your family visits twice a year and there are sixteen people in your home for three days, do you need to build to accomodate sixteen people for the other three hundred and forty six days of the year?  A timber frame, hybrid, or panelized home will feel larger than a conventionally framed or modular home.  There are fewer structural wall requirements, fewer halls, higher ceilings with more volume.  Open spaces accomodate groups of people more easily than smaller, enclosed rooms.  Think seriously about the long term issues of energy usage and maintenance and about the shorter term costs to build and the extra materials required to construct your home.  Smaller requires fewer resources to build and fewer resources to maintain.  Careful planning as you design your home will pay off long term.

Energy efficiency will be designed into your home.  Design a well insulated home with high performance windows.  Design for sustainable energy with passive solar, daylighting, and natural ventilation.

Green Building Notes – Your Timber Frame Journey

Green Building, in it’s new and sometimes abused persona, is not really a new concept.  It has always been important to use resources wisely, to build with the materials at hand, and to conserve energy.  New technology has helped us to achieve some of these goals, but if we look back, we see that many before us have built green, without all the hype.  Adobe homes protected Native Americans in the Southwest from sweltering heat, wattle and daub homes used materials at hand to build shelters, skyscrapers built in the late 1800’s made use of urban space.  So while architects, designers, and builders today would like to take credit for this movement, they are truly just making the public more aware of the importance of building green.

The goal of Goshen’s Green Building Notes is to inform and educate.  Choices are many and often confusing.  Whether you choose to build a home that is certified by one of the many certification programs, (LEED, NAHB, many local and regional options), or to build a home using best practices without certification, is a very personal and budgetary decision.

Goshen Timber Frames has designed and built green homes for many years.  We’ve helped our clients design and build homes that fit their lifestyle and budgets while not encouraging them to overbuild.  Our material and energy efficient homes sit quietly nationwide, enjoyed by families of all ages and economies.   

Your site will be all important as you move forward with your project.  Whether you own your land or you are just beginning the search for a site for your new home, you need to consider how the land lays, how your home will be sited, and the impact of building on the site.  If you are building in the mountains, The Mountain Home Guide is a good place to start.  This guide was created with much input and thought by professionals in North Carolina.  

If you are looking at land, consider how you will live in your new home.  Are you a “house mouse” or a “field mouse”?  Will you spend much time outdoors or do you prefer to spend your time inside?  This will impact everything from how your home is sited to how it is designed.  Don’t hurry this process.  Changes after the fact are time consuming and expensive.  

The smallest footprint will have the smallest impact.  This is critical to your new home and should be taken very seriously.  But, just as you shouldn’t build too much home for your lifestyle, don’t underbuild either.  Your home won’t serve you well if you have to add on to live comfortably.  There is a perfect fit for everyone.  

Designing your home to work for you and to fit on the land will take time and energy.  You will need to walk the land, visit with local builders who are familar with not only building, but with the regional landscape, have a local excavator out and discuss the impact of building on the site and how the landcape will change in order to accomodate your new home.  If you are building for a view, take a ladder to the site, climb up and look around.  This will likely be your first floor view.  If the site is challenging, consider renting a lull or bucket to get an even higher view.   Take your time.  If you have the luxury of visiting the site during all four seasons, you are far ahead of the game.

Building green encompasses every aspect of designing and building your home.  As you move forward, you will have to make many choices.  We’ve listed some of these choices and offered some suggestions.  There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of books and other resources available on green building.  It is a touch phrase and has become a hot topic.  In our next few posts, Goshen we will to offer some of the simplest decisions you can make that offer the largest impact.

Timber Frames and Daylighting

Daylighting is a design and build technique that allows window placement so that natural daylight can be used as internal lighting in homes and buildings.  Timber frames make daylighting an easy and natural process.

In a timber frame home, the posts and beams carry the structure, with panels (or another enclosure method) wrapped around this superstructure.   Walls can literally be built with windows, but that probably isn’t a good choice in most homes simply because of the energy efficiency.  However, it is wise to install as many properly placed windows as feasible to minimize the electric light needed during the day.

Natural light provides a more comfortable light and, limiting the number of lights that need to burn is an energy saving measure.

Dalighting should be considered for all new homes, working with your designer and timber framer to place windows to take advantage of the orientation of your timber frame.   There are many options … windows, skylights, clerestory windows, light shelves, and even sunrooms.   Using your site and orientation, the style of home you chose, and your lifestyle, the architect or designer will help you to make choices that will enhance the light in your new home.

Don’t discount the comfort factor of natural light.

And remember to not only build, but build boldly!