Rising energy costs and increased environmental awareness have made increased energy efficiency a priority, particularly for homeowners and businesses. In general, government advice is to work on producing a better outcome through refurbishment or behavioural changes. However, those looking to build their own home or add an extension have far greater options. In this post, we take a look at the factors to consider and the methods to follow when trying to make a design more energy efficient.
When considering energy for homes, most people immediately jump to solar panels and roof installations. In fact, it isn’t always so cut and dried – there are other factors to consider.
Writing for Forbes, Jen Dalley offers some advice:
“Obtain a sun path diagram for your site’s location. This will help you determine the orientation of your home by giving a visual of where the sun travels in the sky throughout the day. Make note also of any obstructions surrounding the site…that might block potential passive solar gain. It’s also important to be aware of your predominant sky conditions throughout the year: overcast, clear or partly cloudy. This will become useful knowledge when you’re determining how to light the home’s interior. By taking advantage of natural light, you can reduce your electrical load and your dependency on artificial illumination.”
Think about where your planned site is, and what the surroundings might offer your build. Consider heating or cooling costs, depending on your site, one may be more energy demanding than the other.
For most British homes, energy bills rise in the winter to take into account added heating costs. The best way of reducing that spike is by properly insulating your home and incorporating double glazing to prevent warm air from leaking. This means that the best designs should plan to be airtight, with controlled ventilation in areas like bathrooms and the kitchen.
Many double-glazed windows also offer “trickle vents” which allow a small amount of air to circulate to prevent condensation. All joints, seals, ducts and doors should be designed so as to prevent any leakage.
If your plot has room for it, think about the shape of your garden and the positioning of new trees. For instance, planting deciduous trees will mean shade in the late spring and summer, leading to lower cooling costs. On the flip side, the bare branches in winter will allow the sun to help keep your home toasty during daylight hours.
You’ve worked hard to identify key ways of making a design energy efficient. By limiting energy consumption and waste, increasing efficiency and managing the landscape, you can build a home for the future.
Try to do all of your efficiency work early, and make sure it’s all included in the initial plans. If you need to change the plans later it may end up a costly affair if the alterations pile up. The key is to get it as close to perfect, first time around.