Builders often justify the cost of energy
design improvements in terms of lower
energy bills over time (see "Energy
Upgrades: Cash Flow vs. Payback,"
Focus on Energy, 4/96). But people
sometimes don't realize that energy-efficient
design can also have an immediate
payback. In cooling climates, for
example, design and construction
details can reduce peak cooling loads.
This allows the builder to reduce construction
costs for air conditioning by
installing smaller equipment, smaller
ductwork, and smaller electrical service.
For 20 years or more, contractors
have sized cooling equipment by a simple,
traditional formula: one ton per 600
square feet of floor area, plus half a ton.
But if you build a house to the standards
specified in the Model Energy