How Barndominiums Are So Energy Efficient

Barndominiums have gained popularity for the past 20 years as a durable and cost effective construction method for a new home. Throughout Tennessee and Kentucky you’ll see these large metal homes scattered throughout rural areas and on properties without restrictions on construction methods. Yet, another appealing quality about barndominiums is how efficient they are with energy consumption. 

The Evolution of Barndominiums

Originally designed as storage or workshop spaces with living quarters, barndominiums have evolved into fully-functional homes that offer spacious, open-concept living areas. As the name implies, it was originally envisioned to be a “barn” and “condominium”. 

Much like how garage apartments gained popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, barndominiums made use of the open space of a barn or hangar to provide living quarters for ranch hands and workers. The concept of barndominiums first emerged in the 1980s, particularly in Texas, where farmers and ranchers began repurposing their barns into living spaces due to the practicality and cost-effectiveness of these structures. 

The term “barndominium” itself was first used by real estate developer Karl Nilsen in 1989. Nilsen recognized that local farmers were using barns not only for agricultural purposes but also as full-time living quarters, combining the utility of a barn with the comfort of a condominium.

How Barndominiums Became So Popular

The rise of barndominiums can be attributed to several factors. One key factor was the advancement in the metal building industry in the mid-20th century, which made it easier and more cost-effective to erect large steel buildings. These buildings, with their open floor plans and durable construction, are ideal for multipurpose use, including residential living. As the costs of traditional home construction have increased, more people see the value of using these metal buildings as an affordable alternative to conventional houses.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the popularity of barndominiums began to spread beyond Texas, partly driven by the DIY and home renovation movements. With the advent of online resources like social media and online videos, many people began to see the potential in converting old barns or building new metal structures into unique and personalized living spaces. 

Building an Energy Efficient Barndominium

Barndominiums allow enjoying stylish barn aesthetics as a primary residence while minimizing environmental impact. Homeowners can build or update these metal buildings by using the latest green materials and systems for maximized energy efficiency. Here are many features to consider when constructing your barndominium:

Energy Efficient Metal Roofing

Barndominiums use the same metal roofing you’d expect to see on a post-frame building or barn. As a result, barndominiums enjoy greater energy efficiency compared to standard shingle roofing on traditional residential homes. 

Asphalt shingles tend to absorb a significant amount of heat from the sun, which can increase the indoor temperature of a building by 20 to 25 degrees. On the other hand, metal roofs are highly reflective, deflecting the sun’s heat away from the building. This reflectivity can lead to energy savings of about 50 percent, as metal roofs can be up to 100 degrees cooler on the surface than asphalt roofs.

Whether you’re looking for the sleek and modern look of standing seam metal roofs or you prefer the more traditional “barn look” of 5V panels, you can modify the style and curb appeal of your roof while also enjoying greater energy efficiency. 

High Performance Insulation

Barndominiums often incorporate high-quality insulation in their walls and roofs. The large wall cavities created by the framing structure allow for more insulation than traditional homes. This improved insulation helps maintain a consistent indoor temperature, reducing the need for excessive heating and cooling.

Through superinsulation you can minimize heat transfer and lower demands for your HVAC system. Layer blown-cellulose, densepacked wool, or recyclable denim batts can be used to achieve R-40+ wall ratings. Roof assemblies can benefit from combining rigid foam boards or spray foam with fiberglass batts for R-60+ resistance to elements. Add proper air sealing and vapor barriers, and you have a tight fortress that keeps the interior as comfortable as you desire throughout the year. 

Energy Efficient Windows

Many barndominiums feature energy-efficient windows and doors that minimize heat loss and reduce the entry of heat during warmer periods. These features often include double or triple glazing and high-quality seals. Carefully sized openings balanced across sun-facing walls encourage natural light and passive solar heat gains during winters. 

High Efficiency Systems

There are a variety of home comfort systems that can be considered during the construction of a barndominium. Due to the low construction cost of the home, you can spend more of your budget on systems that keep the barndominium cool or warm without racking up extensive energy costs. 

You can even install right-sized hydronic or geothermal heat pumps and on-demand tankless water heaters. Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) systems are also a great choice to ensure optimal air exchange while maintaining the indoor air temperature. Additionally, using smart thermostats, zoning control systems, and strategically positioned air returns can significantly reduce energy waste.

Get Started with Your Barndominium Project

Watson Metals is a leading provider of barndominium construction and design in Tennessee and Kentucky. With our vast experience in metal buildings and metal building supplies, we have the experience to help you build the barndominium of your dreams. We can use your blueprints or you can choose from our selection of versatile floor plans. We even offer barndominium financing so you can make your barndominium project a reality. 
Contact us today to get started building your dream barndominium home!

Coy West

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