Is 2x4 or 2x6 Home Construction Better for Saving Energy?

2X6 vs 2X4 Home Construction

New home construction using 2X6 framing can improve energy efficiency and recoup your investment over time.

Today, we're all striving to live a more sustainable life by being aware of ways we can recycle, reduce waste and conserve energy. In the construction industry new approaches are being developed to combat energy usage and loss in new home construction. One of the new trends involves changing the physical infrastructure when erecting structures.

Typically, residential construction uses 2X4 wood for framing. Framing studs are usually set at 16-inches on-center (OC) and then externally sheathed using exterior grade plywood, and finished inside using exterior sheathing and shingles, vapor lock, fiberglass, cellulose or blown in insulation and sheet rock.

In colder climates like Ann Arbor, contractors are redesigning additions and new homes and using 2X6 construction. Because 2X6's are structurally more sound, framing can be placed at 24-inches OC, partially offsetting the additional cost of materials. When properly installed, 2X6 construction offers energy savings which can repay the costs of construction quicker than traditional construction.

Let's take a look at some of the techniques used and efficiencies gained by switching from standard construction to the new more energy efficient use of 2X6 construction in colder climates like Ann Arbor.

Considerations Prior to 2X6 Home Construction

There are several considerations you'll need to think about when calculating cost vs ROI when increasing the thickness of exterior wall thickness in new home construction or when adding an addition.

• Upgrading to 2X6 home construction is not cheap.

While the distance between studs can be increased from 16” oc to 24” oc, reducing materials by approximately 33%, the cost of materials is higher. You'll also need to consider the additional cost in not only wall studs, but top and bottom plates, insulation, and window and door extension jambs. They will all cost more.

• Long term benefits of lower energy consumption.

Once you've determined the increased cost of materials you can begin to calculate how soon you might receive and ROI. Maximizing construction by using secondary foam sheathing which can be the difference between a faster rate of return and a longer timeframe.

• Return on investment is somewhat a function of where you live.

The winters in Ann Arbor are cold and often wet. As a general rule ROI is a function of location. Energy savings can be significant in terms of heating costs and 2X6 framing offers a deeper space for insulating materials.

Calculating Your Payback

Your payback is directly related to the amount of fuel you save by increasing your walls thickness. Calculating this can be a time consuming and complicated process, however scientists at the University of Illinois Building Research Council have come up with a formula. The key item is simple, how cold does it get in Ann Arbor and how long does it remain cold?

The method used is called the degree-day method. Meteorologists from the National Weather Service calculate this for each day of the heating city in cities like Ann Arbor. You can find information on the degree-days for your city here. The scientists at the University of Illinois have determined that, if you live in an area that experiences more than 5750 or more degree days per year that you will have a faster payback on 2X6 construction costs.

Using 2X6 construction in new additions or home construction allows for greater insulation which will reduce your energy costs over the long term. Modern materials like secondary foam sheathing, higher R-value insulation and advanced construction techniques can improve efficiency.

When it comes to 2X6 home construction, there are benefits to the added cost. If you're not sure if 2X6 construction is right for your next project, give the experts at Forward Design Build a call. We understand the climate in Ann Arbor and have worked with out clients to reduce their energy consumption by using the latest state-of-the-art materials and construction techniques. Let us help you to reduce your costs and increase your home's sustainability.

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Forward Design Build is a residential design-build firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan that is known for its commitment to craftsmanship and communication. We are committed to improving our neighbors quality of life with inspired design and creative remodeling. Our homes are highly functional, exquisitely beautiful, and remarkably comfortable. Contact us to speak with an expert about your new home or remodeling project.