What’s New in Energy Efficient Housing

by Anna Gretz
June 7, 2018

Energy efficient homes are quickly turning into earth-friendly, off-grid works of art.

With both purpose and impeccable design, the latest eco-friendly home designs are as impressive to look at as they are to read about on paper (which, for energy nerds like us, is reeeallly impressive.) We’re about to outline our favorite new developments in solar-oriented, renewably-energized housing design, and also highlight how energy storage through home batteries makes many of these designs even more awesome… if that’s even possible.

When designing an energy-efficient dream home, many homeowners are willing to put a sizeable investment into their construction, and end up recovering their money quickly through seriously slashed or even non-existent power bills. Homes with rooftop solar can also choose to store the excess energy their solar panels generate, which can be quite a bit when your home design is efficient in the first place.

WaterShed Maryland House

The University of Maryland set out to design a house that completely ditched fossil fuels, making it stand out against the masses of dirty-fuel-dependent homes in the United States. Even the used water from the washing machine, dishwasher, and shower is filtered, and recycled so it can be used again by the house. The house also has a rainwater harvesting system that collects and filters water, leaving no drop without multiple purposes. The PV solar panels in the U of M house provide more electricity than the house requires, and the designers do take advantage of energy storage to store up the excess energy for later use at night or on cloudy days.

The High Sierra Cabin

High in the Sierra Nevada mountains lies 1015 square feet of energy efficient beauty. The High Sierra Cabin has two bedrooms, and walls made with structural insulated panels (or SIPs), which cost about the same as wood panels, but tightly insulate the home’s interior from heavy snow and strong winds, reducing the heating costs considerably. The clearstory windows and vent skylights on the house make sure natural light can reach as many areas of the home as possible, and the home’s ribbed metal roof is equipped with solar panels, hooking the house up with as much solar energy as possible. Energy efficiency is taken to the next level with energy storage, making sure the lights can stay on all night when the natural light fades away.

The FLeX House

One of our favorite new designs in eco-friendly construction comes to you from the FLeX house, a project spearheaded by a few Florida universities. Floridians face extreme heat for many months of the year, so the architects had to be creative in designing a house that could keep a family cool, and be affordable for those with moderate incomes. The FLeX house installed cypress louvers on both the roof and the walls to provide shade from the sun, while the north wall is completely open to a passively cool interior. For more temperature control, the house is fitted with solar thermal panels, a heat pump, and also a zoned mini-split system. The 22 solar PV panels generate 5kW each, and make this design a true powerhouse.

The DALE House

Another Swell team favorite is the Dale house, designed by the Southern California Institute of ARchitecture, in conjunction with the California Institute of technology. DALE stands for Dynamic Augmented Living Environment, and it’s made up of two prefabricated modules. The two modules are open to the air, and move along a rail system to make room for an open outdoor space between the two (as seen in the image). The rail system is truly unique, made of a steel structure attached to motorized bridge crane end trucks. It’s a true, moveable, work of art. The modules are covered by a vinyl exterior layer which is completely waterproof, and 28 photovoltaic panels provide all of the electricity the house needs. Water is heated with a high end solar water heating system, and all of the systems are connected by a state of the art software that monitors how energy is being produced and used.

These home designs are gorgeous to look at, and their specs are even more breathtaking. The innovations in the eco-friendly design space are ushering modern architecture into a new world of energy efficient housing, and energy storage is taking things to the next level. With energy storage, solar-powered homes and be truly independent, enjoying the energy security we need in the age of the antiquated power grid. It’s time to harness the free, clean energy the sun offers up every day, and home batteries can make it happen. That’s why we do what we do at Swell. If you’re ready to be part of the energy storage revolution, hit up a Swell representative today to get a free quote.