Tips to building an energy efficient house

There are many features that can be included when designing and building a home to be sustainable or environmentally friendly. As an added bonus, heating and cooling costs are reduced which also reduces the impact on the greater environment.

The Best Form of Energy Efficiency is to Use the Free Energy of the Sun.

There are many features that can be included when designing and building a home to be sustainable or environmentally friendly. The following list gives many features that when incorporated can greatly increase star ratings and make a house much friendlier to live in. As an added bonus, heating and cooling costs are reduced which also reduces the impact on the greater environment.

Different climates will need an emphasis on different areas like window size and insulation so make sure you understand your area when designing your house. The list below works well in the cooler southern states of Australia.

Design Feature Environmental Benefit
House north facing on property – passive solar design Reduced heating needed
Eaves designed for maximum solar energy efficiency Reduced heat in house in summer but maximum heat in winter
West wall double brick Less afternoon heat gain to house,Double brick acts as thermal storage – reduces heating costs
Double brick garage at west side of house Less afternoon heat gain to house
Colourbond light green roof Light colour roof for less summer thermal gain to be stored in the roof area – less cooling required
Gutters larger design Maximum water flow to tanks
Mesh to all gutters Reduced leaf collection so Maximum water flow to tanks, Improved fire safety
Double glazed composite timber/aluminium windows Improved thermal efficiency Inside timber improves energy and feel of the houseExternal aluminium for improved fire safety
Windows –North side – largestWest – smallestEast – mediumSouth Maximum solar gain in winter (eaves protect in summer)Minimise summer thermal gainMorning sun onlyDesigned for maximum light transfer as no sun from south side to utilise
Lined drapes throughout Improved thermal efficiencyKeeps heat in during winterCan be used to keep heat out in summer
Gas space heater flued to outside of house Only heating needed in energy efficient house
Ceiling fans, Circulates air and heat to reduce heating costs in winter and improves cooling in summer
Living areas on north side of house Reduce need for heating
Windows in each room Reduce need for electronic lighting
Low energy lighting in all rooms Reduce cost for electronic lighting
Windows designed for maximum air flow Faster cooling in summer, improved air quality
Solar hot water, gas boosted Reduced reliance on water heating. Booster is turned off 4-6 months a year. North roof, unshaded
Water tanks plumbed to house – 23000 litre Also plumbed for mains water in emergency but not used
All downpipes lead to underground pit before flowing into water tank Leaves and other rubbish that fall in gutters collect at lowest point to keep tank water clean.
Grey water diversion valves Diverts bathroom and laundry water to garden for improved water efficiency
Low flow shower heads Improved water efficiency
Plumbing in same corner of house (kitchen, bathroom, laundry) Reduced water heating costs as hot water moves through pipes
Internal toilet fans, wired to lights Less energy needed to control odours – no smell
Tallow wood parquetry floor throughout Stained with oil to avoid off-gassing far cleaner than carpets – doesn’t collect dust
Timber staircases Stained with oil to avoid off-gassing anti-clockwise to improve chi energy flow
Foil-board and batts insulation all external walls (1.5+2.0), roof (3.5) and under floor (1.5),
Batts insulation to vertical roof walls (3.5)
All foil-board insulation joins taped to reduce draughts Improved insulation efficiency
All bats fitted exactly to space not squashed Improved insulation efficiency – compressed insulation reduces R values
Soundproofing insulation (2.0) to 1st floor ceiling and internal walls, Decreased sound transfer between levels/ rooms
All doors, windows, wall joins sealed to reduce draughts, airtight house Less heating, cooling, Need to make sure and open windows to keep air quality healthy not stale.
Stainless Steel mesh around balcony Improved fire safety
Stainless Steel posts around North and West Improved fire safety
Low solar flow through Laserlite roofing on west facing balcony Less afternoon heat gain to house
High light flow through, maximum solar flow through Laserlite roofing on south facing veranda Reduce need for electronic lighting in south rooms, maximum heat transfer
Verandas with panoramic views on 2nd floor and rear of house Good chi energy flow
2.7m ceilings with2.4m timber doors throughout, Improved feng-shui energy flow
Curved walls throughout Improve chi energy flow, slow and gentle
Curved driveway Improve chi energy flow, slow and gentle
House square – no corners missing Feng-shui – no health/ energy areas missing from house
2/3 acre of flat land with multiple fruit trees and raised vegetable gardens Food sustainability
Water tank for vegetable garden – 9000 litre Water efficiency – mains water not used
Garden beds mulched Water efficiency – less evaporation
Trees on west fence line Minimise summer thermal gain to house
Plants in various rooms throughout house Improved air quality

For more information on building Sustainable Homes email Linda

linda@wheeloflifebook.com or visit www.thesolarman.com.au

 

John and Linda Ballis

 

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