Canberra is known for it’s freezing temperatures during the winter. We’re well equipped to deal with the cold, but when summer rolls around, we’re left sweltering in the heat. Well, those of us without cooling are.
For one reason or another, the Empire Homes household is temporarily without cooling. Pedestal fans do not count. While we’re feeling good about reducing our carbon footprint, and our (maybe) lower than normal electricity bill – it couldn’t be more timely, with Australia in the middle of a heat wave. Temperatures of over 39 degrees here in Canberra without cooling has not been enjoyable to say the least, even more so with two little ones.
But, it got us thinking about energy efficiency in homes – a home that’s comfortable all year round with minimum impact on the environment. There’s the obvious things like cooling and heating systems, but there’s other strategies and products that will help keep your home comfortable and improve your homes energy efficiency. An energy efficient home will reduce unnecessary energy consumption, green house gas emissions and demands on non-renewable resources.
If you are renovating or building a new home, your custom home builder will assist in a design that’s energy efficient, on top of the minimum energy efficiency requirements as required by the local government.
We’re not talking about placement of your lounge suite – we mean the basics like the position and orientation of your home on the block, and a smart floor plan. Thinking about these things before you even start building a new home can pay huge dividends for years to come.
Mechanical heating and cooling should never be used as a substitute for good design – never such true words! Clever ways to make your home feel bigger than it is a great way to reduce energy costs – the bigger the home, the more it will cost to run.
Facing the living areas north, where they get sun for the longest part of the day, will reduce the needs for heating costs in winter (install blinds to shade in summer).
Windows and doors
Did you know that windows and doors are the biggest contributors to energy loss in your home? That draught that you feel under the door in winter, or the heat radiating off the inside of your window has a huge impact on the energy efficiency and cost of running your home.
If you’re building or renovating, you have lots to consider when it comes to windows. The size of the windows, single or double glazing and the type of frames are all going to impact on the energy efficiency.
Whether you’re building or renovating, insulation can easily be installed in your home. It is the most practical and cost effective way to make your home more energy efficient.
Insulation is basically a barrier to heat loss and heat gain – particularly in the roof and ceilings, wall and floors. There are minimums requirements for insulation effectiveness (called an ‘R-Value’) in Australia, that your builder must comply with.
Insulation also reduces or prevents condensation in your home, which is not good for your health- especially those with allergies or asthma.
Who doesn’t love natural light in the home? If you are building new, or renovating, consider installing a skylight. Skylights are a great way to bring light into the home without having to switch the light on, the cheapest form of lighting!
LED are usually the preferred choice when it comes to residential lighting. LEDs lights last longer and are far more energy efficient than traditional halogens lights and incandescent light bulbs.
Solar power generates energy from the sun, that can help in providing some (or all!) of the energy your home needs to run. How great would it feel to have lower, or even zero cost energy bills? I’m not sure if it’s true, but a lot of people here in Canberra claim that there’s more sunny days in Canberra than Hawaii. We definitely have a lot of sun here, even in winter, making it the perfect place to have solar power panels installed on your home.
We can work with local Canberra solar specialists and electricians to install the best system for your home.
Cooling and heating systems
Once you’ve made smart decisions about the above strategies, you can think about the cooling and heating systems that will complement your smart, energy efficient, home.
Your options are going to depend on a few factors – if it’s a new or existing home, the age of the home, the size, structural considerations and what heating and/or cooling systems are already in place.
Your builder will work with you, along with a local professional cooling and heating specialist to come up with the best system for your home.
Have you got any more thoughts on improving the energy efficiency of your home? Let us know!