What makes a house more energy efficient?
An energy efficient house is a new or retrofitted building that makes efficient use of energy and resources with a minimal impact on the environment.
Making our homes efficient is a simple task. If a house is already constructed, there are many improvements/upgrades that are available, with some of them immediate and cheap, while others take longer and more costly. For new homes, there are so many ways to make them efficient from the design to the construction stages. Efficient homes use low-impact, high-performance materials. They are efficient in terms of manufacturing, shipping, and installation.
How to make a house more energy efficient?
Consider passive solar design.
Passive solar design is the use of energy from sunlight to aid in heating and cooling living spaces. Using no mechanical or electric equipment, passive solar design relies on building materials that reflect, absorb, or transmit the sun’s radiation. Spaces inside the house are designed to facilitate the movement of sun-heated air without the use of fans. A balance of the airflow can reduce the amount of energy used to heat and cool your home.
Install a cool roof.
A cool roof is one that reflects the sun’s heat instead of absorbing it into your home. The effect on your cooling bill can be tremendous.
Install solar panels.
Solar panels generate electricity you can use to power your home. By choosing energy sources like solar, customers can power their homes with a clean energy source that emits less carbon emissions than fossil fuels.
Install high-performance windows.
Windows account for 50% or more of lost energy, thus they are a key aspect of an energy efficient home. Technologies such as double glazing, special coatings, nonconductive framing materials and higher-quality, air-tight construction are the best solution for this. Changing windows will result in better energy efficiency, less fading of your belongings and quieter rooms.
For warmer climates: Look for what is called low solar gain, meaning less heat is conducted into your interior through the windows. Reflective technologies are extremely helpful, as is double glazing. Look for windows that also facilitate ventilation.
For colder climates: Choose frames that are well insulated and have the right U-value, which is the measure of the rate of heat flow through a building part. Lower is better. Triple-glazed windows with a vacuum between panes can further minimize heat loss. Look for a tight fit to eliminate drafts.
Interesting Fact: Currently the Incheon University in South Korea have developed a fully transparent solar panel that could be placed on windows, the only catch is that efficiency is a 2%, still a long road ahead, but not soon it will be possible to buy solar-windows.
Invest in curtains or blinds.
Window treatments can add insulation value to windows by reflecting back solar energy and cutting drafts.
Draft-proof your doors and windows.
Replacing leaky weatherstripping and using foam tape to cover cracks can eliminate gaps that cost you in terms of heat and air conditioning.
Re-evaluate your home’s insulation.
A professional can give you advice on easy improvements, like foam injection, blown-in attic insulation and other options for insulating walls, floors and ceilings that add to your home’s energy efficiency.
Invest in energy-efficient appliances for your home.
After HVAC systems, appliances are the real energy consumers in your home. Think of them as having two prices: the cost of buying and the cost of operating. When you buy the most energy-efficient options, you dramatically cut the second price.
Here are home sustainability considerations for the appliances that tend to consume the most electricity:
- Air conditioners
- Clothes dryers
- Water heaters
When you purchase a new appliance just look at the energy star system try to buy 5/6 energy start rating, but if you can, choose an appliance with the super-efficient rating.
Replace fluorescent light bulbs with LED or CFL bulbs.
Offering longer life, greater energy efficiency and fewer toxic metals, these new bulbs are worth the switch.
Use smart power strips.
Use these in place of regular power strips to save energy. They sense when your device is in active use and cut power when it is in standby.
Plant an energy-efficient garden.
An energy-efficient garden minimizes water use. Plant according to differing watering needs and use plenty of mulch. Collect rainwater with a water tank to use for drip irrigation.
Install a drip irrigation system.
Keeping your yard healthy and green is not just about looks. Vegetation can keep your home cooler, serve as a windbreak, and contribute to cleaner air. If you need to keep your yard watered, however, you will cancel the benefits quickly with the wrong methods. Drip irrigation is a better alternative. Drip irrigation systems use gravity to deliver water to plants, focusing it directly on the roots where it is needed. You not only save electricity by eliminating pumps but also minimize waste through evaporation.
Investigate renewable energy options from your energy supplier.
Renewable energy is generated from natural replenishing resources like the sun, wind, and water. GreenPower is renewable energy from government accredited sources. Almost all electricity retailers in Australia have a GreenPower Accredited product that lets you purchase between 10 and 100% of your electricity from a renewable source. There are many benefits to going green with GreenPower. Your purchase supports Australian renewables, reduces your emissions, and increases green business ratings. Please visit the Australian Government Greenpower website to select the provider of your choice https://www.greenpower.gov.au/
Talk to an energy efficient expert.
Energy efficiency is an area of fast innovation in home building, home systems, appliances, and lighting. An expert can perform an energy audit to give you advice on easy fixes and the latest technology available. Each Australian state has energy efficiency websites that can assist you:
If you cannot do any of the above change, below there is a list of little self-check activities that can help you making the home more efficient in a budget:
There are also even easier steps that you can take to make sure the house is more energy efficient and that is changing usage behaviour. These changes are amazingly simple:
- Turn off the lights when they are not needed.
- Close off unused portions of your home.
- Turn down the heat.
- Operate storm windows properly.
- Take shorter showers.
- Wash clothes with cold water and air dry them instead of using a drier machine.
- Operate your dishwasher with full loads.
You can make your house energy efficient — whether buying new or improving your current environment — with some quick changes and some thoughtful investments. An efficient home will pay you back in energy savings as well as comfort and it will help the environment as well.