Most of us already know how to reduce our energy consumption on a daily basis, but what are some ways to make your home more energy-efficient even before installing LED lights? Whether you’re building, renting or renovating, there are several things you can do to create an energy-friendly home.
The positioning of your house is one of the most important factors when it comes to natural heating and cooling. By following some simple rules, you can make the most of the sun and shade throughout the year, and in doing so, greatly reduce your power costs.
Ideally, your living areas should face north so they get plenty of sun in winter, and feature large windows. Your bedrooms, on the other hand, are better facing south to minimise direct sunlight and keep you cooler at night. If possible, try to avoid west-facing windows as they’ll let in the harsh afternoon sun; and eastward windows, since they’ll get too much sun in summer and not enough in winter.
The location of your windows will not only help you take advantage of the sun and shade, but maximise natural light and allow for cross-ventilation as well. When thinking about windows, you should also consider these features:
- Double-glazing – double-glazed windows are a great way to preserve the warmth in your home in winter and retain cool air in summer.
- Window treatments – curtains and blinds will help to block out the sun and reduce heat retention and loss by trapping the air around the window. Adding pelmets will also help to stop the warm air escaping above the windows in winter.
- Window films – if you prefer to keep the views from your windows unobstructed, a window film is an effective way to prevent heat gain and bring down your cooling costs.
- Window frames – choose window frames with a WERS (Window Energy Rating Scheme) rating for both heating and cooling and, if possible, buy products with a higher star rating, five being the highest.
As well as being water-wise in the garden, you can be energy-wise with landscaping designed for better energy efficiency. Planting deciduous trees on the north side will provide shade in summer and let in the winter sun once the trees drop their leaves. Meanwhile, trees and shrubs planted to the east and west will give you shade from the strong morning and afternoon sun during the hot months.
And instead of putting paving or another hard surface under north-facing windows, opt for a natural option such as a mulch or ground-cover, so the heat isn’t reflected into the house.
Good insulation is a key factor in maintaining comfort in your home and keeping your energy bills down. Without it, your efforts to conserve energy could simply go to waste.
There are different types of roof, wall and floor insulation available, and depending on the design and location of your home, some products may perform better than others. Remember to choose a highly rated insulation product from a reputable supplier.
What you do on the outside can be just as important as what’s inside your house. For example:
- Strategically positioned verandahs, pergolas and shade sails will not only create a pleasant outdoor area, but also provide much-needed shade in summer.
- Properly sized eaves are a great energy saver as they help to keep out the harsh summer sun and let in the warm winter sun.
- One of the simplest ways to help with natural heating and cooling is to choose lighter colours for the roof and walls of your house, as they’ll reflect some of the heat.
What are your tips for designing an energy-efficient home?