In recent years, the use of Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) as a building material for homes has been increasing in popularity.  As the demand for high-performance homes grows,  so does the interest in ICFs. The driving factors behind the surge in popularity of building energy-efficient homes include the need for energy-efficient and sustainable structures,  the durability and longevity that such homes offer,  the long-term cost savings they provide,  and the adoption of the green building concept for a sustainable world. Building energy-efficient homes translates to lower energy bills,  shorter construction times,  reduced maintenance needs,  and quieter indoor spaces.  However,  the primary reason for building energy-efficient homes is their impressive energy efficiency and robustness.  In our article,  you will find answers to all the questions you might have about building energy-efficient homes.

What Are ICF Homes?

Using Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) in home construction is not a new practice, but the process has progressed slowly.  After the construction of the first true ICF home in 1969, its popularity only began to rise in the early 2000s and continued until the early 2010s.  ICF stands out as one of the most significant green building technologies developed as an alternative to traditional wood-frame housing.

Several reasons contribute to why these homes are a fantastic option for homeowners.  Firstly, these homes are incredibly sturdy and durable. To achieve this, styrofoam foundation forms and interlocking styrofoam blocks are used. This ensures both thermal and sound insulation.

In ICF homes, there’s no need to compromise on aesthetic elements. An ICF home can be designed to resemble a wood-frame house while still benefiting from all the additional advantages of building with concrete.  The floor plan is versatile enough to suit any style, and ICFs are compatible with all popular interior and exterior finishes.

Are Building Energy-Efficient Homes Cheaper?

The cost of building energy-efficient homes is generally higher compared to wood-framed homes.  According to some studies, the cost of energy-efficient (ICF) homes can be anywhere from 5% to 20% more expensive than wood-framed homes.

However,  ICF technology is continuing to advance,  and in line with these advancements,  material costs are expected to decrease.  Additionally, the small number of contractors specializing in building energy-efficient homes can contribute to increased costs due to competition.

Alongside these cost-increasing factors,  there are also advantages to building energy-efficient homes in the long run,  such as requiring less maintenance and repairs,  being more resilient against hazards like fires and storms.  This is because these homes are constructed on more solid foundations using better materials.

Lastly,  as the name suggests, these homes are energy efficient. This leads to significant reductions in your bills. In short, energy-efficient homes are a wise investment that provides long-term cost savings.

Why Building Energy-Efficient Homes?

There are several excellent answers to the question of why you should build ICF,  energy-efficient homes. Firstly,  these homes significantly reduce your energy bills, decrease your environmental impact, and contribute to creating sturdy housing stock. Thanks to the foam material used in their walls, they minimize air leakage, effectively keeping the indoor environment warm or cool as needed.  With insulation layers both on the interior and exterior, they further decrease heat loss.

Energy-efficient homes are also crucial in terms of sustainability. Beyond the materials used in construction, they also reduce environmental impact through the savings they provide in the long run.

The Advantages of Building Energy-Efficient Homes

Due to the interior and exterior insulation, the indoor temperature of the house remains relatively stable throughout the day.  The R-value, which indicates how well structures are insulated and their heat retention capability,  is typically around R-23 for energy-efficient buildings. A higher R-value is a positive attribute. In comparison,  wood-framed structures usually have R-values ranging from R-9 to R-15.

Another advantage of energy efficient (ICF) homes is their enhanced quietness. Thanks to their thick walls and the use of concrete,  these homes have excellent sound insulation.This feature is invaluable,  particularly in urban or densely populated areas.

Lastly,  ICF homes are more durable compared to traditional wood-framed houses.This makes them a much better long-term choice.

The Disadvantages of Building Energy-Efficient Homes

The primary disadvantage of constructing energy-efficient homes is the cost.  Despite providing savings in the long run,  the initial costs of ICF homes can be significantly high for many homeowners.

Another issue is the difficulty of finding contractors who work with ICF.  Although they are more widespread nowadays,  many contractors still prefer wood over ICF. This is because they are more familiar with working with wood, can complete home construction more quickly, and the permitting process is simpler.

The floor plans of energy-efficient homes must be prepared to align with this concept from the outset of the project. Changing your mind after construction has begun is not feasible. Wall thickness,  the location of plumbing and wiring,  and overall floor plans require completely different designs. The usable area of an ICF home will be smaller than that of a wood-framed house built within the same dimensions. Therefore,  if you decide to build an energy-efficient home,  it’s beneficial to have a slightly larger plot of land.

Okan Ergin

Okan Ergin

Okan Ergin has been working as the General Coordinator at Ergin Makina since 2005.