A barndominium is a portmanteau of barn and condominium. They are designed with rustic barn-like features that instantly captivate an urban dweller’s heart. Many people have converted regular barns spaces into classy barndominiums in the last decade, but how do these buildings fare when it comes to energy-efficiency?
Barndominiums are energy-efficient, especially if they are made of metal, which provides insulation and weatherization against natural elements. This removes the need for additional cooling or heating appliances. Additionally, they have metal roofs that also contribute to energy conservation.
Energy conserving buildings can either be built with an energy-efficient design or modified later to reduce energy loss. So even if you find a barndominium that is not energy efficient, it doesn’t take much effort to rectify it, especially when it’s a metal building. This article will focus on the important factors that make a barndominium energy-efficient and also highlight the pros and cons of having an energy-efficient building.
What Makes a Barndominium Energy-Efficient?
A barndominium is deemed energy efficient if it has the ability to reduce energy consumption while maintaining the quality, functioning, and security of the building.
Energy-efficient buildings are becoming popular due to the fact that it can save money while reducing the carbon footprint. Let’s have a look at what factors contribute to energy sustainability in a barndominium below.
Insulation and the Building Envelope
Most metal buildings are insulated with some form of insulation, usually made out of fiberglass and foam. Insulating a building not only helps with moisture control but also maintains the building’s temperature.
Insulation reduces the exchange of heat through the surface of the wall. Hence, less warm air escapes from the building during winter, and less cool air escapes during summer. This reduces the additional expense of using appliances for heating or cooling a room, thereby conserving energy.
This is one of the main reasons people choose metal buildings, as it consequently reduces the electricity bill when compared to non-insulated homes.
Most often, people invest in rigid panels when insulating metal buildings. These boards are made from foam plastics and fibrous materials like fiberglass and are effective materials for thermal insulation.
Weatherization of the Barndominium
Weatherization is also known as weatherproofing a building and refers to the practice of protecting a building from the natural elements, like sunlight, precipitation, and wind. It also helps modify the building to reduce energy consumption.
Most often, weatherization and building insulation are confused to be one and the same thing. This is far from the truth, as insulation refers to the process of reducing conductive heat flow, while weatherization primarily reduces convective heat flow.
Weatherization is an important step in modifying a building to be energy efficient. Studies show that in the United States, buildings use 40% of all energy consumed and 70% of all electricity. In addition to this, energy usage from buildings accounts for 49% of sulfur dioxide emissions.
According to the US Department of Energy, families whose homes are weatherized save almost $358 on their first year’s utility bills. So even if your barndominium has not been weatherized yet, you certainly can do so with a few procedures.
How to Weatherize a Barndominium
- Reduce the infiltration of air by sealing all gaps, cracks, and holes, especially around doors, windows, pipes, and wiring.
- Reinforce other areas of potential heat transfer like windows with caulk and foam sealant.
- Air ducts usually account for 20% of heat loss, so sealing this can significantly conserve the thermal energy within the barndominium. Just be sure to use something like fiber-reinforced mastic for effectively sealing the ducts.
- Install dampers in exhaust ducts to prevent outside air from entering the house when the fan or dryer is not in use.
- During extremely cold climates, install storm windows and doors to prevent the loss of thermal energy.
While weatherizing the barndominium, be sure to pay special attention to doors and windows as these tend to be the main outlets through which heat escapes. I recommend checking out this informative video below, which focuses on effectively sealing doors and windows when weatherizing a building:
Metal Roofs Aid in Energy Efficiency
All steel barndominiums have metal roofs, which greatly helps reduce the need for extra cooling in summer. Metal roofs are very popular as they aid in keeping a room cool and reduce the energy consumption used by cooling devices like air conditioners.
According to studies done by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, using light-colored reflective roofs can save up to 40% in cooling energy, as they reduce 30% of the heat gain through the roof.
Cool metal roofing has a highly reflective coating that uses specific pigments in the paint to increase solar reflectance, thereby lowering the surface temperature of the roof. An additional benefit is that solar energy panels can easily be installed on metal roofs, which increases the energy efficiency of the barndominium.
Daylighting Increases Energy Efficiency
Daylighting is another great way to increase the energy savings of a building. This is great news, as most barndominiums are designed with many large windows all around the building.
Daylighting helps minimize the amount of artificial light that is used and also reduces HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) costs. Using natural light can save up to 75% of the energy used for providing light in buildings.
One of the major plus points of daylighting is that it costs you absolutely nothing, but helps you save a tonne of energy. For this reason, more people are opting for highly energy-efficient windows due to the environmental impact of daylight. This is another feature that makes barndominiums great energy conservers!
Pros and Cons of Energy-Efficient Barndominiums
No matter what, every building has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of energy-efficient barndominiums.
- Reduces energy consumption and helps you save money.
- Long-term energy and cost savings.
- Reduces your dependence on energy from the outside.
- Reduces environmental pollution and degradation.
- Reduces the exploitation of natural resources.
- Energy-efficient buildings have a higher value when selling or leasing the property.
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions and slows global warming.
- The initial building cost of the barndominium will cost a little more than traditional buildings that are energy inefficient. This is due to the added expense of good insulation, weatherization, solar panels, etc.
- You won’t have full control over the temperature of the room, be it hot or cold, due to the fact that you won’t be using electronic heaters and coolers.
- Your barndominium must be in an ideal location to make use of natural resources like sunlight and wind. If too many trees surround the barndominium, it could potentially block the sun and light that make the house energy efficient.
Barndominiums are energy efficient buildings due to the presence of a metal roof that acts as a reflector of heatwaves and insulation that conserves thermal energy in the building. With proper weatherization procedures and daylight windows, a barndominium can be an excellent energy conserver.
Here are the key aspects that make a barndominium energy efficient:
- Thermal insulation
- Cool metal roofing
- Weatherization procedures
- Having daylight windows
- Installing solar panels
Based on the information presented in this article regarding the energy efficiency of barndominiums and its many advantages and disadvantages, you should be able to decide if this is the right home for you.
Do remember that though energy-efficient buildings are costly upfront, they are economically and environmentally beneficial in the long run!
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