New houses are becoming much more energy efficient. The rising cost of energy has made the economics of a well-insulated house very difficult to ignore. Many new homes are being built with many improvements to keep conditioned air in and outside air out.
Builders are using icynene spray foam insulation. This insulation is applied to the underside of the plywood for the roof as a strong insulator. This means that the attic is part of the climate-controlled portion of the home, and there is no place for heated air to build up. This means there is no need for attic fans or roof vents.
The cement blocks that are not filled with cement are filled with foam. The windows and doors are also energy efficient, forming a significant barrier. When everything is closed, there is almost no air exchanged with the outside.
The energy-efficient improvements create an envelope sealing the house. This changes the dynamics of a house in Florida. The houses used to need to breathe because airflow was very important in preventing the houses from getting too hot in the attic. It was necessary to have the house not overly sealed so that air could be exchanged. Now the house can be completely sealed. The soffit that used to have holes to exchange air is now solid. You can fill every gap with foam or caulk.
The complete sealing of the home makes it more difficult for bugs to find a way in. Without the need to exchange air to cool the house, the entry points for bugs are greatly reduced, and it makes pest control more straightforward.
These new energy-efficient houses often struggle with humidity and are requiring changes to air conditioning. It is necessary to have the proper amount of air conditioning in a house, and these houses require less powerful units than traditional homes. If the air conditioner is overpowered, the home will be humid and moldy, because the house will cool before the air conditioner runs long enough to remove moisture. A variable air conditioner is a good idea for these houses as they can adjust to the need. Another option is a whole-house dehumidifier.
Another issue is air exchange. These houses do not exchange air with the outside, so to lessen odors, you may want to add an air exchanger to pull air from outside when the humidity is low, although you can accomplish a similar effect by opening a window periodically.
Even when the power is out, these homes can stay comfortable for hours. The latest technologies show great promise in creating homes that are both climate-controlled and climate-friendly.