More and more new builds are impressing buyers with high energy efficiency ratings, and what’s more is people now expect their homes to be fairly energy efficient. So boosting your new home’s energy efficiency could increase the value of the property, as well as saving the environment and money in the long run.
But how do you build a home with energy efficiency in mind? Here are a few tips to help you build your home to be efficient.
Seal the building envelope
The most effective way to make sure a home is energy efficient is to seal the building envelope, by making sure there aren’t any gaps for air to flow through the exterior and into the home.
Building envelopes can be tight or loose, depending on how much air you want to flow through the home. In Australia, where there are such diverse weather conditions throughout the year, it’s better to make sure the building envelope is tight. This just means that the home will be less exposed to severe weather conditions, and not as much energy will be used regulating the temperature.
Even with tight building envelopes though, you should still seal any openings and leaks. These can lead to unwanted air flowing freely throughout the home, creating draughts. More energy will be required to heat or cool the home, as you’ll be battling against the outside elements. Openings that allow moisture into the home can cause damp and even full on leaks, which will not only damage the building materials but will also lead to a lower energy efficiency rating.
Seal gaps in floorboards or hard flooring
Believe it or not, gaps in floorboards or hard flooring can kill your energy efficiency rating. They might seem like the smallest detail in your home, but draughts can rise up through them, just as air can escape through them. Having gaps in your floorboards can be just as bad as having a window open! These gaps can see the efforts of your heating or cooling system escape underground, so a percentage of the energy you use will be wasted.
To stop this from happening, you’ll need to seal the gaps. It’s not as hard as it sounds, in fact all you need to do is get yourself kitted out with a caulking gun and a caulking sealant to put in it. Or, StopGap is a popular method of sealing floorboard gaps as it’s mostly invisible and is a lot quicker. Just push the V shaped plastic into gaps and it will spring apart to stop airflow.
Insulate your home
Insulation is the best way to stop heat escaping from your home, and can even stop heat from entering your home on hot summer days. So making sure your home is properly insulated can save you energy and money that you would otherwise have spent on heating or cooling your home.
There are two main ways you can insulate your home, bulk insulation and reflective insulation.
Bulk insulation usually comes in the form of glass wool, natural wool, polyester, and recycled paper. It’s placed in the home as a barrier to stop heat coming and leaving through exterior walls. Bulk insulation is the most effective insulation for homes that are exposed to colder weather.
Reflective insulation is more focused on keeping homes cool, as it reflects heat away from the home. Usually reflective insulation is a board of plastic covered with shiny aluminium foil, and it’s the more popular insulation choice for those who live in areas with hot climates.
Choose energy efficient windows
Windows can be key to lowering your energy efficiency rating, they have the power to heat and light up a room naturally rather than using energy.
Choosing energy efficient windows includes choosing where to place windows in your home design, and what size they should be. For example, east and west facing windows can make it difficult to control heat in the home.
The type of windows that would be most energy efficient are those that have lower air leakage rates. But if you’re unsure how to choose, go by the energy performance ratings when deciding which windows would best suit your home.
If there are already existing windows in your home though, there are other options that can upgrade them in terms of energy efficiency. Shutters and storm windows are good options to reduce unwanted air flow into the home.
There are storm windows for every home’s need, so if you wanted to install a storm window just for the colder months, they come in the form of plastic sheets that can be attached to the outside or inside of your windows. But if you were looking for something to more permanently reduce airflow, there are laminated glass options, that will last for several years and will withstand storms.
Similarly, shutters reduce airflow but they can also add a touch of character to your home. They also provide shade in the summer months.
Invest in solar panels
If you wanted to go above and beyond with improving your energy efficiency rating and saving the planet, you could consider installing solar panels on the roof of your home.
If you have a south facing roof this would make the perfect spot for harnessing sunlight to power your home. This would make your home the ultimate eco home.
Not only would this cut down your greenhouse gas emissions, but it would also save you money in the long run, as sunlight doesn’t cost you anything and it can be used to power your heating or cooling systems.
So making your new home energy efficient could save you money each year, and help a bigger cause – the environment.
There are several ways you can make sure you’re not using any more energy than you need to. Whether you choose to use one or all of these energy saving methods, you’ll be cutting down your energy bill and doing your bit to save the planet.