Energy Efficient Home Design1
How important is design when it comes to creating an energy efficient house? Short answer: Very Important!
Creating an energy efficient house is most easily tackled in the design stages. According to the Australian Government’s Your Home website– a guide to environmentally sustainable homes – approximately 40% of household energy is used for heating and cooling to achieve thermal comfort. They suggest this rate could be cut to almost zero in new housing through sound climate responsive design. Here are some aspects to consider.
Correctly orienting your home will help you control its temperature – so you don’t need to use air conditioning all the time. Look at aligning the building to take advantage of the direction of natural breezes. Cross-ventilation can also help when it comes to cooling a home and living areas should ideally face north wherever possible.
You need to consider sunlight too. Smart choice of window furnishings or exterior awnings will help you control the amount of sunlight entering your home. Consider options that allow you to minimise heat in the summer, but still allow sunlight to enter your home in winter.
While not technically a part of home design, landscaping is vitally important when creating an energy efficient home. Shading walls and windows can keep your house cooler in summer and choosing deciduous trees which lose their leaves in winter will allow the sun to penetrate your home in the cooler months of the year.
Insulation and Sealing Your Home
Insulation, particularly in the ceiling and walls will help keep your home cool in summer and warm in winter. Ventilation in the roof is also an option worth considering. Ensure your home is well sealed against air leakage, particularly around windows and doors. This prevents warm air from escaping in the winter and cold air from entering in the summer.
Other Energy Efficient Home Design Tips
- Ceiling fans are far more energy efficient than air conditioning and are often all you will need to cool a room to a bearable level, particularly at night. Contact an electrician to install fans in your existing home.
- Eaves overhanging windows will keep your house cooler.
- Consider non standard glazing options such as low-e or double glazing for windows and doors. Talk to your home designer or local window manufacturer for advice.
- If you are renovating or extending a home consider adding a verandah, covered deck or patio awning for shading.
- Whether you are building a new home or renovating an existing home a local building designer will be able to assess your site and offer advice specific to your needs which will save you money in the future.
The Your Home website is a valuable source of information and is worth having a look at to get ideas. If you are planning to build in Newcastle or the Hunter Region Urban Living Solutions will be able to assist you.
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