The U.S. Department of Energy estimates we can cut the next generation of homes' energy consumption 30 to 50 percent using low-cost methods.

By Michael Haigley
May 23, 2005
Keith Scott Morton

Homeowners on the coast live in environments that require highperformance from building materials and construction techniques. Sowe should be quick to take advantage of approaches that maximizeenergy efficiency. I've picked up some helpful ideas during threedecades of building at the shore and from the latest research ingreen construction.

Downsize. A compact home saves on materials and monthlyenergy costs. Consider your lifestyle when allocating space. Do youreally need a master bedroom big enough for beach volleyball? Areyou going to feed an army out of your kitchen? Often, smart designin cozy surroundings provides more satisfaction than square footagewould.

Work with nature. When siting your home, take into accountwater tables, winds, and the course of the sun. Careful planningwill let you enjoy maximum natural light and ocean breezes, andreduce the toll on heating and cooling systems. Install solar roofpanels for electricity and hot water.

Consider tried-and-true design. Porches and overhangs keepinterior temperatures down in sunny climates. During harsh winters,steeper roof pitches prevent snow accumulation.

Keep it tight. Sloppy construction leaks energy. Payattention to details in HVAC ductwork. For example, to avoidoverworking heating and cooling systems just to compensate fortemperatures in uninsulated attics or crawl spaces, keep ductswithin the insulated envelope of the house.

Capitalize on technology. The list of renewableresources―from bamboo flooring to products made from recycledmaterials―is growing. Seek alternatives to traditionalmaterials.

Do your homework. Check out the latest edition of Green Building Guidelines: Meeting the Demand for Low-Energy,Resource-Efficient Homes, published by the SustainableBuildings Industry with support from the U.S. Department of Energy.Visit or