Above image courtesy of Rheem Australis solar hot water system
Energy use isn’t just a major slice of the annual household budget, it also contributes to global warming. But building a new home or extension is an opportunity to not only save some money but help the environment.
Architect Craig Taylor says decisions made during the design process of a new house will significantly help reduce your energy footprint. “Simple steps taken early in a building project can result in big energy savings,” he says. “There are many ways to save electricity and money in your home. A coherent plan, from design decisions through to the use of your home, is the only real way to save energy and money.”
Craig says there are three main elements to address when creating a sustainable house
It all starts with good design
The first of these relates to the design. Look at the orientation of your building - it should have your main living areas to the north and minimal windows to the east and west. This reduces the high heat load on a building in the mornings and afternoons and improves the amount of natural light through the middle of the day. The building should only be as large as it needs to be - the larger the building, the more energy required to heat, cool and light a building. The building should also have extended eaves to shade as many areas as possible. These are a few of the design tools architects employ to provide the greatest impact on reducing the energy costs for the life of the building.
The second element to improving the energy footprint of your home is to employ systems. The better the design, the fewer systems required. However all buildings require some added 'greening'. Your home should be well insulated, including the floor, walls and ceilings. In some cases, double-glazed windows can also have an impact in reducing heat loads. Solar hot water systems and solar cells can save electricity costs, while rainwater tanks will help you save on your water bills. Reversible ceiling fans are a simple and effective way to push heated air back down to ground level and subsequently allow you to save on your heating costs.
The third element to creating a more sustainable home is to use energy efficient and water saving appliances and fittings. Pay attention to the star rating stickers on appliances, and choose accordingly. You can keep track of your energy usage through your bills.
More information: redblue.com.au