Part of planning a new building isn’t just factoring the cost of the building materials & labor and calling it a day. It’s important to have some foresight and think about different factors that can impact your wallet and the structure of the building itself down the road. One of the factors that takes a massive toll on monthly bills is heating and cooling. But it really doesn’t have to! Insulated concrete forms (ICF) are the best material to use when constructing energy efficient homes.
Why is that? Let’s break it down for you:
In order to understand how energy efficient ICF homes are, we need to delve into a refresher of one of those science lessons from way back when. “Thermal mass” is a material’s ability to absorb and retain energy from heat. Higher density materials (concrete, for example) need a lot of heat energy to change their temperature. Because of this, concrete has a high thermal mass. Why is this important for energy efficiency? When using concrete as a building material, thermal mass severely reduces fluctuations in temperature as it slowly releases the energy retained from the hot sun. If the exterior walls of the house are absorbing and retaining the day’s heat, the inside temperature is remaining fairly consistent. This consistency allows the thermostat to take a bit of a break from kicking on the AC or heat to adjust for fluctuating interior temps.
Not only does this energy efficient material absorb temperature swings and require less energy to heat and cool, the density of the concrete means that there are less structural leaks. Outside air cannot seep into the house as much as regular wood frame structures. The dense concrete is also resistant to climate-based temperature temperature and humidity fluctuations such as snow storms and hurricanes.
Here we see infrared images of two houses. The house on the left is a traditionally built wood frame home. The orange color is heat loss. On the right is an ICF home with one spot of heat loss where the front porch light is installed. Quite the visual difference, right?
Want to look at some numbers? Because standard ICF walls greatly exceed the minimum IECC (International Energy Conservation Code) requirements, buildings constructed using ICF exterior walls can expect to see a 32% decrease in energy used to cool the interior in hot weather. And because of the heat retained from the sun, these buildings require 44% less energy to heat during the colder months. Because of this, smaller and cheaper HVAC units are required for the home.
So if you’re in the market for building a new home or office, consider using Insulated Concrete Forms rather than the typical wood frame building materials. Not only will you save money in the long run on energy efficiency, the longevity of the material is also impressive. It guarantees that you’ll be able to sleep soundly and comfortably knowing that your new structure is completely unappealing for bugs or vermin to chomp on, and it’s keeping the air you want inside and keeping unwanted air out.