Last updated on September 16th, 2021 at 12:22 pm

What is a Barndominium and are they energy efficient?

How to Heat and Cool a Barndominium

Often referred to in its shortened form, “Barndo”, a Barndominium is a large structure most commonly constructed of old barn or ranch buildings no longer serving their original purpose. Barndominiums tend to have a metal building frame (and metal roof) and a foundation rather than the traditional wooden, brick, or concrete foundations of more modern and conventional homes. 

In recent years, Barndos have been rapidly gaining popularity because of the ease of renovation and lower cost of not having to build an entire foundation from the ground up, which can be one of the more costly aspects of building a home. One of the biggest draws to Barndos is the very large vaulted ceilings, the low cost to construct (because they are usually pre-existing buildings), and the energy efficiency (because of the metal structure).  

At MacroAir, we got our start in agriculture, specifically in the dairy industry, to keep dairy cows from overheating during hot summer months so that they could continue to produce milk in a more comfortable environment. We did this by inventing HVLS (high volume, low speed) ceiling fans. Needless to say, MacroAir is an expert in this industry, and we continue to serve clients in the agriculture and farming industry to this day. Learn how we helped Riverside Rancheros reduce costs by installing barn fans to improve their equestrian facilities

Barndominium costs explained

How much does a Barndominium cost?

While the cost of building your own Barndominium can vary greatly depending on where you live, generally it will be anywhere from $30-$50 per square foot. Now, compared to building a home the traditional way, which can start around $100-$500 per square foot (depending on the cost of materials), Barndominiums can be quite a bargain. The money you save on building your Barndominium can go to other areas, such as furnishings and interiors or renovating the outside of the unique structure, making it exactly what you envision your home looking like.

Barndominium energy costs. Are they energy-efficient? 

First off, Barndominiums are energy efficient and reduce your carbon-footprint because they are built upon an already existing structure, which cuts out the cost and energy needed to construct an entire foundation from scratch. Furthermore, adding adequate insulation and weatherization allows Barndominiums to be incredibly energy efficient. Proper insulation, often done using a combination of fiberglass and foam, will reduce heat loss and maintain proper temperature and moisture control, sustaining the structure’s indoor environment. Finally, you’ll want to make sure you have efficient windows and doors, preventing warm air from escaping when you don’t want it to.

How to heat a Barndominium

Efficient heating is extremely important during Wintertime when looking to save money. Fortunately, there are many different ways to heat your Barndominium, including furnace, radiant heat, space heaters, heat pumps, and more. However, today we’ll be talking specifically about furnaces, radiant heat, and heat pumps, from the least to most energy-efficient primary heat source. 

Bardominium heating


While furnaces are by far the most conventional heating systems with which people heat their homes, they are not known to be the most energy-efficient solution. Furnaces use either gas or electric energy to create heated air, which is then pumped through air ducts throughout your home providing warmth. Older furnaces will be far less efficient, but more modern gas-powered furnaces have become quite energy-efficient and can greatly reduce the cost of heating your home, not to mention decrease your carbon footprint. There is a reason furnaces are the most common way to heat homes, and that is because they are a reliable and very effective way of doing so.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are a more energy-efficient option than furnaces and do essentially the same job by generating heat and dispersing the hot air throughout your home’s air ducts. A large difference between heat pumps and furnaces, however, is that heat pumps can also be used to draw out warm air from your home and divert it outside during the hotter months. For this reason, you may opt to go with a heat pump system if you live in an area where removing warm air from your home would be beneficial. The only drawback of heat pumps is that they do pose a higher initial cost of purchase and installation than a furnace, but they can make a difference in your energy bill by saving you money each month.

Radiant Heating System for Bardominiums

Radiant Heating System

Radiant heat can be one of the best ways to heat your home, especially for those who have seasonal allergies as it doesn’t involve circulating air and allergens throughout your home. Compared to both heat pumps and furnaces, radiant heat does tend to be much more energy-efficient and retains the heat in your home much more effectively. Radiant heat systems function by being installed underneath the floorboards, behind walls, or in the ceiling and distribute heat the same way that your oven radiates heat throughout your kitchen for example. While radiant heat is one of the most energy-efficient sources of heat and can save you money in the long run, it is among one of the most expensive options in terms of the upfront cost of purchasing and installation.

How to cool a Barndominium

Bardominium cooling

Central Air

Possibly the most common cooling system is central air conditioning. A perk of central air is that it can be combined with either a furnace or heat pump system to provide both heating and cooling options. However, in most cases having central air can be quite pricey, especially with the upfront installation cost of the air ducts. But once the system is installed, it can be quite efficient with different temperature settings. One major issue with air conditioning is that it can become expensive during the summer months. Fortunately, you have options to decrease your air conditioning bills during those months. 

Bardominium air conditioner

Room Air Conditioners

Room air conditioners can be very effective at cooling a small space such as a bedroom, office, or small living room space. However, they probably won’t be your best option for cooling your entire home. The benefit of a room AC is the fact that you can get these units at quite an affordable price, and the installation requires only minor labor. 

Thermally Driven Coolers

One of the newest types of HVAC for cooling your home is the thermally driven cooling system. This system runs on solar and/or gas power rather than electricity, which greatly reduces energy usage to cool your home. While this will save you a good chunk of change in the short term, in the long term purchasing a thermally driven cooling system can cost a pretty penny as it requires solar panels to utilize solar energy as its main power source. On the plus side, the thermally driven coolers can use either solar or gas to run, so if there is ever a particularly cloudy day, but you still need to keep your home cool, there is no need to worry.

Bardominium hvls ceiling fans

Fans in your Barndominium

HVLS (High Volume, Low Speed) ceiling fans can be an amazing addition to your Barndominium for many reasons. Initially, barn fans were invented to keep animals comfortable to increase production, but they are great in non-animal settings, too. Not only do HVLS fans help to efficiently cool large spaces during the hotter months, but they also can provide warmth by circulating warm air throughout your space during the winter months. In the summer months HVLS ceiling fans can be operated in a counterclockwise direction, pushing air downward to create a cool breeze. In the colder winter months, the direction of the fans can be changed to clockwise, pushing the warm air downward, which naturally rises to the ceiling and recirculates, providing a warm draft.

We hope that this post has helped you to feel more equipped and confident on how to best heat and cool your own Barndominium. If you still feel unsure and want to chat about your heating and cooling options, make sure to reach out through our contact us page.

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