Open floor plans are building designs that use minimal barriers to separate various areas of the home. For instance, an open floor plan may feature a unified kitchen, dining, and living room space rather than three separate rooms. Rugs, furniture placement, and varying color schemes may be used to designate the different functional areas within this open space, but walls and doors are avoided.
Open floor plans are becoming increasingly common in custom homes in Houston, but they are far more than just a passing trend. This type of floor plan is actually great for energy efficiency, helping homeowners meet green building standards and save on utility bills. Open floor plans influence energy efficiency in three key ways.
More Natural Light
When you choose a traditional, closed floor plan, you're sure to end up with some interior rooms that don't get a lot of natural light from the windows. You need to turn on lights in these rooms, and this consumes a lot of electricity over time. While you could install a skylight, these are notoriously inefficient, increasing your heating and cooling costs year-round. With an open floor plan, there are no walls to block the spread of light. Sunshine can stream, uninhibited, into your room, filling the space with natural light that does not cost you a thing.
With an open floor plan, during the cooler months, the vast amount of sunshine that streams into your custom home in Sugarland or Friendswood or Katy can decrease your reliance on your furnace. Of course, most homeowners in the Houston area wouldn't need it much anyway. The sun alone may bring in enough heat to keep your home comfortable in the mild Houston climate, keeping your fuel bills in check.
Improved Air Circulation
Walls also impede the flow of air. Some rooms may grow warmer than others, causing you to turn up the air conditioning and cool them off. Certain rooms may also start to feel stuffy due to a lack of air flow, prompting you to turn on ceiling fans and perhaps even your central fan. With an open floor plan, there are no walls to block air circulation. Your home has an easier time maintaining an even temperature throughout, and you won't need to rely on your fan to break through the stuffiness.
If you open your windows in a home with an open floor plan, the fresh air will blow in through the entire space. On the contrary, in a home with a closed floor plan, you may have some rooms with windows that face against the prevailing winds, making it hard to bring fresh air into those spaces.
Less Square Footage Required
A custom home with an open floor plan will feel more spacious than a home of the same size with a traditional, closed floor plan. This may allow you to cut down on square footage when working with your builder to design your home. For instance, you may be able to design a 3,000 square foot home with an open floor plan that feels more spacious than a 4,000 square foot home with a closed floor plan. Less space is physically taken up by interior walls, and you don't have the walls interrupting your line of vision, either.
The smaller your home, the less energy it will require to heat, cool, and illuminate. With an open floor plan, you can opt for a smaller home without sacrificing that feeling of spaciousness and openness. Of course, you'll save on materials and building costs with a smaller, open-floor-plan home, too.
Many custom homes in the Katy and Friendswood areas and other surrounding areas of Houston and other areas we serve, San Antonio, Austin and Nashville are now being built with open floor plans. If you're looking for a way to reduce your energy consumption and keep your utility bills in check, then an open floor plan may be right for you. Talk to Partners in Building to learn more about the best open floor plan options and the other benefits of this trendy layout.