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How to build an energy efficient home

Published on March 22, 2018

With the rising cost of power, it is important to think about ways we can reduce this household expense.  There are a number of things you should consider, when you are planning to build an energy efficient home.  These elements will help shrink your energy costs and ease the pressure on your household budget.

 

Why do we want an energy efficient home?

Lets face it – everyone wants to save money.  We are all hearing about how electricity prices are skyrocketing.    By building an energy efficient home, is a great way to reduce energy wastage and save on power bills. Not only this, it will also help to reduce the impact on our environment.

What is an energy efficient home?

It is apparent that more and more Australians are embracing sustainability into their lifestyles. Home designers and builders are now implementing design and construction methods, which help to conserve natural resources.  New home builder Perry Homes acknowledges that we need to build environmentally responsible homes.  At the same time we need to ensure our homes are affordable to all families.

How can you build an energy efficient home?

The best place to start thinking about building an energy efficient home, is in the planning stage prior to construction.  Here are a number of things to should consider at this time.

Aspect of your block of land and location of house

When choosing a block of land you should consider where your house will be built on that block.   Is the block north facing to the street?  In which case the backyard will be facing south,  What about facing into the western sun? In Australia most of us like to entertain outdoors.  You should consider if the sun will be in your outdoor living area in the morning or afternoon.

If you are thinking about a sloping block you should not only take into account the position of the sun – perhaps there are barriers to prevailing summer breezes as well.   An energy efficient home will always make the most of natural ventilation.

As a consequence the position of the sun in relation to your house will have an impact on the cost of cooling and heating your home.   Choosing the right aspect, will help ensure best placement of your home on your land and the most energy efficient building design.

House design

The orientation of your home has a significant impact on ongoing energy costs and your family’s comfort. If you wish to build an energy efficient home, you should also carefully consider the house design as well.  Here are a number of ways you can help make your home more comfortable without using electricity.

  • Living Areas

The rooms you spend most of your day in, should be north-facing to catch sun and light for the longest part of the day. Generally this will keep your house cooler and will catch the fresh afternoon breezes.  Consequently in winter, the sun will flood these living areas making them warm and cozy.  Ideally the bedrooms should be positioned on the southern side.  This will ensure they are cooler for sleeping.

  • Eaves

Apart from the layout of the rooms in your home, another way to reduce exposure to the sun is to incorporate eaves into your design.  As direct sun can generate the same heat as a single bar heater, by incorporating shade wherever possible, can block up to 90% of this heat.

  • Windows

The placement of windows can have a significant impact on your energy efficient home.   For cross ventilation and to take advantage of prevailing breezes it is best to position your larger windows to the north and east sides of your home.

Whilst we all like to take advantage of prevailing breezes, reducing the size of windows on the hottest side of your home will help keep your house cooler. This is where you should position rooms where you spend less time such as the bathroom, laundry and garage.

Incorporating double glazing, tinting and fitting curtains, blinds and shutters to your windows will also help to reduce the impact of the heat of the sun or the cold in winter.

  • Outdoor Entertaining Areas

Newport 25 Display Home

Display Home – Sunshine Coast

Entertaining outdoors and especially in summer, is something  we all love to do.  However there is nothing worse than to be exposed to the hot summer sun.  Outdoor living areas such as your deck, terrace and courtyards should be positioned away from the western sun and ideally be shaded.  It is ideal to have full coverage such as a ceiling and roof, however a pergola will still offer some shade.

External colour scheme

When considering your external colour scheme, take into consideration how light coloured walls and roof will impact on the internal temperature of your home. Light colours can effectively reflect the hot summer sun and in turn help to keep your home much cooler.

There are a number of manufactures such as COLORBOND® who offer specific solar reflective colours. Colorbond also incorporates new technology, designed specifically to reflect more of the sun’s heat on hot days,

Insulation

Probably one of the best ways to keep your energy efficient home cooler in summer and warmer in winter, is to install insulation. As the majority of the transfer of heat into a home is through the roof ceiling, insulation in the ceiling cavity is particularly important.

In addition, insulation in the floor and walls should also be considered.  Not only will this help to regulate the temperature of your home, but will also significantly reduce noise, making it a more comfortable environment for all.

 Solar panels

Solar panels are increasingly being installed by those wishing to build an energy efficient home.  A much greener energy system, solar panels takes advantage of the abundance of sunlight we have here in Australia.  Most sophisticated systems have a gas or electric booster to make sure you still have power even on cloudy days.

Whilst solar panels are an investment, they will in turn pay for themselves plus there are still government incentives available which will reduce the initial outlay.

 Rainwater tanks

Some of us remember when there was a rusty old rainwater tank in our grandparent’s back yard.  However changing trends and the risk of mosquito borne disease, saw the practice of harvesting rain, disappear from our homes. But as most areas have experienced drought conditions, rainwater tanks have again become commonplace.

Harvesting one of our most important natural resources, the rainwater can be used in toilets and washing machines.  Washing the car and watering the garden are also ways rainwater tanks can be used in an energy efficient home.

Landscaping

When planning the landscaping of your garden there are many choices you can make to maximize the energy efficiency of your home.   Choosing trees and shrubs which grow tall enough to provide permanent shading for windows is a natural way to lower the temperature in your home.  This is especially effective if used on the western side of your block.

In addition choosing plants which have minimal water requirements are best for the sunniest spots in your garden. Limiting the amount of water guzzling lawn will also help here.  Seeking advice from your local nursery when planning your garden, will have a big impact on landscaping your energy efficient home.

Careful planning and consideration should be given to all these elements when building your dream energy efficient home.  The savings you get through these improvements, can make a big impact on the household budget.

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