In this day and age everyone is aware of the environmental impact humans have had on earth, and most of us care about doing our bit to help the environment. It’s a passionate and very important topic, so I thought I would write a little on being energy efficient around the home and when building a new home.
Position of house
When you are building a new house, it’s like starting a painting with a blank canvas – ANYTHING is possible! If you are thinking of a Knock-Down Rebuild you have an added advantage, sun positions, breeze directions and surrounding views can be just a handful of things to be considered when designing and building an energy efficient home.
When you are at the design stage of building your new home, don’t forget to consider where you will place the rainwater tank and the air conditioning unit.
Have you ever walked into a dimly light room during the day and flicked the light switch on? Yep, me too, but as soon as I do it I give myself a silent stern talking too and turn it straight off. Proper use of lighting can change the way a room appears, the more natural light in a room the larger that space will appear to be. Is it possible to extend the size of your window to allow natural light in and break the inside outside barrier?
Perhaps you have a darkly lit stairwell, toilet or hallway, a skylight or sun tunnel could add natural sunlight where a window may not be possible. Design wise, Sun tunnels have come a long way, now coming in dome shaped and flush sitting on the roof.
If lighting is required, Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL’s) use up to 80% less energy and can last 4 to 10 times longer, and ideal for area’s that require lighting for long periods of time.
Kiddies getting up during the night? Instead of having a nightlight on the whole night an alternative could be a plug-in motion sensor light, simple yet efficient.
Windows and doors
The position of windows and doors can be designed to capture breezes, cross flow ventilation is achieved by opening windows, doors and openable skylights.
In winter windows can allow up to 40% of your heat to leak out, meaning higher heating bills. To avoid this from happening consider installing single glazing or window films on windows and skylights. The glazing is fused to the window to help control the flow of both heat in and out of the window.
Poorly fitted doors with gaps and cracks can add 25% to your heating and cooling costs. Glass sliding doors are usually poor insulators, when shopping for a new glass sliding door ensure they have insulation and glazing. It’s possible it will be a higher upfront cost, but in the long run you will be saving more off your heating and cooling bills. If you have an attached garage you may also want to consider insulating the internal walls attached, some builders may offer this as a standard inclusion, and possibly a solid garage door too.
Be vigilant when upgrading household appliances, take notice of the energy star rating, but don’t let that and cost sway your purchasing decision. Before handing over the $$’s ask yourself: ‘Do I really need a 400 litre fridge for just one person?’ ‘Would I be better off looking at a 285 litre fridge instead?’
The larger appliances may have a higher energy rating, however it may also cost you more to run a bigger model. An empty fridge or freezer will cost more to run than a full one will! Bizarre isn’t it!
Due diligence is needed, so have an idea of what you are after BEFORE hitting the shops.
A solar heated hot water service can be a very energy efficient way of heating water throughout your home. For those not so sunny days, a simple flick of a switch and the water will be heated for you to have a nice hot shower.
Look at your washing machine too, is it too big? Using a washing machine that is too big will constantly use to much water. Front loader washing machines are usually more expensive up front, however use less water, energy and detergent than a top loader machine.
Rain water tanks are now a compulsory item when building a new house. A great idea, however do consider as large a tank as possible to really make a difference in your water usage charges.
Heating and Cooling
Insulating your roof and walls can help keep your home comfortable in summer and winter.
Of course the general heating and cooling tips are still spot on:
- Close all windows and doors when heater or air conditioner is running.
- Seal all doors and windows with draught stoppers and window seals.
- Cover windows with thick thermal curtains to keep cool in during summer and heat in during winter.
- Ceiling fans are a lot cheaper to run than air conditioners and can create a nice air flow.
- When upgrading your air conditioning unit, try purchasing a unit with a programmable timer and thermostat controls.
- Cook dinner outside Aussie style, opt for a BBQ rather than heat the house with the oven or cooktop to reduce heat trapped inside.
- Wait until your dishwasher is full, and turn on later in the evening to reduce heat inside the house.
- Close off parts of the house that don’t need to be cooled or are not in use to save excess cool air.
- Regularly maintain your heater and air conditioner to ensure they run properly and not costing you more than they should.
- Designing your garden to have large barrier trees and shrubs shading your windows in summer time will deflect heat entering through the glass.
- When boiling the kettle to make a cuppa, only add as much water as you need – Don’t fill the kettle all the way to the top.
Building or renovating a new home doesn’t have to ‘cost the earth’. If only one of these tips has helped you become a little more energy conscience than I am happy with that. Do you have any energy efficient tips for around the home? Please share them with us.
For more information on being energy efficient when building a custom built home please contact us today.