Building an Energy Efficient Home
The chance to start from scratch and design a home that is energy efficient should start with examination of
potential supply of your own power.
Incorporating home solar water heating and or wind power for
electricity generation may mean your home is completely self sufficient from day one, and for little additional
cost in construction.
Adding solar panels to a roof may mean a design that faces the roof to take advantage of the sun's rays.
A wind generating system may need some extra support on your structure and an allowance for the battery to store
Selecting the type of insulation you will need is much easier to fit during than after building.
The use of environmentally friendly Structurally Integrated Panels [SIP's] can reduce the demand
for structural timber and provide very efficient wall insulation at the same time.
If these are not the design feature you are looking at, there are many green types of insulating material that
can fill roof cavities, walls and under floor areas to make heating and air conditioning of the new home more
efficient. When fitting windows, double glazing may be required by the building code in your state and this
is a major contributor to saving energy in climates with harsher winters.
Fitting metal frames may slightly reduce the effect because metal conducts heat. It is also a better option than
using scarce timber framing that needs more frequent maintenance, and can warp and crack over time.
The demand for water in the home can be augmented by rainwater collection systems and a grey water recycling
Large amounts of energy are used in the storage and reticulation of water, and this will be reflected in your
utility charges increasing over the life of the house.
The overall design of the house will determine how efficient it will be for living. Open plan houses are almost
impossible to heat and cool effectively so if you want this type of home, consider at least an area for winter that
can operate as a cozy living area.
You might even look at adding partitions in rooms to block off areas within the house to avoid heating wide
empty spaces. High ceilings are ok in summer, and installing a fan will help keep warmer air from collecting at the
highest point in the room in winter.
Central heating design is important and floors with heat absorbing material will make this easier and more
efficient. Bathroom fittings for shower and faucets will reduce the amount of hot water wasted during washing and
bathing. Flow regulators and spray nozzles will cut demand dramatically and are available in modern designs
suitable for any new home.
Likewise, the choice of appliances will be important to reduce energy demand and make the selection of your
alternative power sources more effective.
Do you really need those extravagant home theatre systems or the latest floor to ceiling plasma television
screen? When it comes to incorporating wood into the new design look for the opportunity to recycle old timbers in
beams and flooring. While not making a difference to how the home operates during its life, the legacy you leave
will be just as important.
Lastly to add both to the overall appearance of your new home and its demand for power, plant a few trees
instead of lawn needing water through dry summers. The shade provided may keep part of your home naturally cool
during summer without air conditioning.
Check online for further eco-friendly homes and you may be surprised at some of
the benefits of good planning now.
Have you thought about creating your own power using renewable sources such as from the wind and sun? Power 4
Home offers easy to follow manuals to build these inexpensively: