The rising cost of energy has now well and truly captured our attention.
Simply , using less energy will save money and take pressure off suppliers helping keep prices lower. More importantly an energy efficient home is also a comfortable home.
Simple low cost solutions:
- Change to efficient light globes
Remove all incandescent and halogen down-lights to either compact fluorescent for general lighting and LED for task lighting.The equivalent Flouro or Led (which fit into the same down-light body as Halogen ) use only 9 to 14 watts, about 1/5 of the average halogen down light. Flouro and LED do not generate excessive heat which can cause roof fires . Insulation bats can be laid over them without problems providing better insulation of ceilings.
Note: Foil insulation in roofs should only be installed on top of rafters before roofing is installed, never within the ceiling cavity or near wiring.
- Install at least 4.0 bats to entire ceiling
insuring no gaps between insulation bats.Exhaust fans should have auto closing cowls installed, available at local hardware. When re-roofing with masonry tiles or steel use appropriate foil insulation to control heat loss and gain.
Seal any air gaps to the roof cavity such as vented eaves, roof vents. Ensure chimneys have dampers and wall vents are closed off Roof cavity ventilation is appropriate for hot climates, however, needs to be shut off in cold weather.
- Run as many appliances on gas as possible (cheaper less carbon producing energy source).
Avoid electric heating and hot water units. Continuous gas hot water units only produce as much hot water as is required at any one time. Stove cooking is more efficient and instantaneous with gas, so is ducted heating.
An Australian company is producing ceramic fuel cells for the European market. These generate a house-holds electricity and hot water on site at far lower cost compared with transmission of power from far afield.
- Windows are the biggest potential wasters of energy in a home. They allow heat to escape and intrude almost as much as would a hole in the wall.
Heavy drapes within pelmets are excellent insulators containing heated air in winter.Shutters, awnings and shade devices that keep sun light from direct contact with window glass are the best way of preventing heat intrusion in summer.
Smart selection and placement of drapes and shading devices can perform better than an average double glazed window. Double glazing will particularly improve east, west and south facing windows and reduce reliance on drapes when natural light is required.
Long double hung or fully opening casements are most effective for allowing maximum air circulation. North facing windows (providing they are correctly shaded against summer sun) can be single glazed to reflect in the winter sun for secondary heating.
Strategically place windows also for ventilation requirements.Ceiling fans are also an efficient way of moving warm and cool air.
- Seal all Gaps to prevent drafts
Along with windows, gaps in the building envelope, are the greatest cause of heat to transfer. Seal all gaps under and around doors and windows. This sounds easy however is difficult to achieve to a high standard.
Chimneys should be blocked or at least have an effective damper installed. Wall vents (found in old homes) should be blocked. Carpets or rugs on timber floors. Zone off areas by keeping doors shut to reduce areas to be heated and cooled.
- Vegetation and Landscaping.
The following is only a cursory look at some key elements of a built environment. Carefully planned plantings can protect a building against the elements.
Great care must be taken so plantings do not damage foundations or cause unsightly cracking. Use of Permeable surfaces (gravels and mulches) reduces water runoff and aids retention of water in oil. This also improves soil quality dramatically.
Water tanks also prevent water runoff and are ideal for watering gardens, running pressure washers and in particular filling pools. Required are at least 10 thousand litres to do the job in Melbourne if you own a pool. Simple diverters can also be used to divert shower water to the garden. Correctly placed stormwater drains prevent flooding and foundation dampness.
If you are looking at designing a New Home or Extension all of these features and many more can be incorporated at the design stage. Capital Building Contractors is a Green Living Master Builder focused on providing you with a more efficient and comfortable home.
Talk to us about making your new Home or Extension state of the art.