There are a lot of things to consider when building and designing an energy-efficient home, making this undertaking very challenging. However, recent improvements in property construction techniques and elements allow more effective energy-saving ideas to be flawlessly integrated in modern house designs while enhancing aesthetics, comfort and health. Although, some home energy-saving features are expensive, homeowners still have a lot of affordable options to choose from. Here are some of the basic elements that energy-efficient homes have in common.
1. Site selection – When building a house, the first thing that you need to look into is the location. Build your new house near your workplace, public transport routes, school, etc. This way the energy used for transport from one place to another will be greatly reduced. It is also advisable to choose a site that is exposed to the lower altitude of the winter sun to allow passive solar heating. Allowing the transmission of natural heat through your windows will help reduce heating costs. The ideal site for an energy-efficient home is also sheltered from the wind to minimize heat loss. Shelter can come from nearby trees, surrounding buildings or hills.
2. Insulation – To reduce heat loss, it is essential to have higher levels of insulation than those required in local building regulations. Insulation must be properly allocated around the building shell. Foundation walls and slabs must also be as properly insulated as the walls in your living space to enhance energy efficiency and comfort. Appliances such as water heaters, dryers, washers and freezers that emit heat as a byproduct should be situated in the basement. By installing good insulation in the foundation walls as well as the basement floor, your home appliances can help in heating your home.
3. Ventilation – During summer, excessive artificial ventilation could result to high energy wastage. A well ventilated house is not sealed up completely since there is a minimum fresh air requirement for health and safety reasons. In places where the summer heat is a major concern, overhangs can help protect your family against the sun. This will also reduce your reliance on your air conditioning system. Proper home ventilation involves fans, heat exchanger and ductwork which can effectively supply warmed fresh air into your living room and bedrooms.
4. Building materials – It is essential to utilize building materials that produce lower environment impact through their entire life cycle which involves production, use and disposal. Make sure that the construction materials you use are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, are durable and long-lasting. Ideally, materials should also be recyclable when they are no longer functional to your home.
5. Lighting and appliances – It is essential to use energy-saving lamps and fittings for rooms where the lights are likely to be used for long periods. Although CFL or compact fluorescent lamp costs more than an ordinary light bulb, it allows you to save more on energy bills and on its long operating life. When buying home appliances, only choose models that display Energy Labels with high energy efficiency.