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3 Energy-Efficient Modern Touches To Include In Your Custom Home

When you invest in a custom home, you have a precious opportunity to create the dwelling of your dreams -- a place you can truly love, not just for today but for a lifetime. It's a lot easier to future-proof your home while it's still on the drawing board or under construction than it is to rip it apart and remodel large chunks of it a few years from now. Here are three modern features you can add right now that will add immeasurably to your satisfaction and enjoyment as a homeowner in the years to come.

1. Low-E Windows

When you're planning features such as windows for your home, it's easy to get obsessed with cosmetic details such as the shape, size, and style. But the structure of the window itself will make a huge difference in its energy efficiency and your family's personal comfort. While your custom homebuilder will most likely recommend double-paned windows for extra insulation, there's another feature you should ask the contractor about: low-emissivity, or "low-E", glass.

Low-E glass is coated with an incredibly thin coating of metallic particles -- so thin, in fact, that it may appear completely transparent to the naked eye. This silvery substance is highly reflective, retaining indoor warmth on cold days while bouncing thermal energy away from the window on hot days. (A product called passive low-E glass is better at the former task, while another category called solar control glass does a superior job of the latter.) This kind of glass can provide you with advanced thermal insulation for many years of lower energy bills.

2. Tankless Water Heaters

A tankless water heater is the ultimate in efficiency when it comes to heating water for household use. This appliance heats small quantities of water on demand, instead of laboring to keeping an entire tankful of water hot even when nobody needs it. This practical approach can boost your energy efficiency by 50 percent compared to a conventional water heater.

It's certainly possible to upgrade an existing water heater from a tank-based system to a tankless system, so why is it so important to go ahead and have your tankless model installed in your custom home during the initial build? One of the reasons many people don't take advantage of tankless water heaters is the extra cost of installation -- which is largely due to the extra steps required by the upgrade process. For instance, a gas-powered water heater system must have its lines replaced with larger pipes at considerable cost, while electric-powered tankless water heaters may require more electrical capacity than your present system. Installing everything in the initial build so it will work together perfectly from the beginning is the more cost-effective way to go.

3. Cool Roof Technologies

Modern roofing materials have come a long way from the traditional dark-colored asphalt shingles found on so many older homes. A new custom home deserves a new kind of roof -- one that will last for many years, maintain its good looks, and keep your home's interior cooler in the summer. The darker a roof, the more heat it will absorb; this will have you regretting your choice of roofing the first time the thermostat mercury spikes upward. If you're commissioning a flat-roofed home from your custom home builder, ask about having it topped with a white or light-colored "cool roof" such as a thermoplastic membrane or other energy-efficient coating.

More conventional roofs can also benefit from today's cool roof products. Many modern shingles come in a variety of colors and shades, so you can pick a lighter one that complements the rest of the home. Metal roofs do a nice job of reflecting thermal energy, and they can last for decades. Light-colored ceramic tiles are yet another option, but only if the design of your custom home can support the weight of this material.

Make these smart decisions now, and you'll be glad you did later as you spend year after year in the comfort of your own creation. Talk to a custom home builder like David James Custom Homes about these and other features to include in the planning and construction process!