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Building with efficiency: A new standard of modern home

Contributing AuthorsContributing Authors
Building with efficiency: A new standard of modern home

via flickr

As more than one-third of the world’s energy is used within buildings, sterner actions on the amount we harness in and around the home are becoming more relative to our lives, and more changes in the way we inhabit the Earth have to be made in order to adhere to them.

The standard of building houses within the last 50 years has evolved massively, and as a result newer housing built to current energy standards can be up to 30 per cent more efficient than those created 20 years ago. It may take a little more money in order to populate suburban areas with such buildings, but inhabitants will find that money going straight back into their pockets after a short time living in the property thanks to energy-saving measures.

But, how does one actually create such buildings?

Tailoring the layout to your energy demands

When deciding on the layout of a house, everyone will have their preferences on where bedrooms will be placed, which way the living room will face and whether the dining room will be incorporated into the kitchen. But you can use a house’s design to create an energy efficient environment.

Rooms that are used predominantly through the day should be clustered together to have the energy used at centric points where it is needed. The rooms that are occupied only at sporadic periods should be left outside this area so that heating and lighting is not being wasted.

Insulation, insulation and more insulation

I say insulation three times as there are three key areas in which the implement can be incorporated into the home. Walls are the main concern, whilst the roof and exposed floors are also places that require attention.

Walls that are a barrier between the outside elements and indoors should have the most attention, but interior walls in rooms that aren’t used so much are also important, especially if the temperature is likely to fall and rise at intermittent periods from not being inhabited. The roof will require the thickest insulation (about 20” worth), whilst exposed floors can get away with less than half that unless there is a basement/cellar.

Managing the temperature

It is important to remember that most of the time you live in your home one room at a time. Therefore, look to get suitable equipment that can heat or cool one room as you require it, whilst remaining inactive in the ones that you’re not using.

A programmable thermostat will also be a good investment in making an efficient home as they can warm or cool a room as and when required.


Reining in water wastage

The most common tap configuration – that is, a single spout with separate faucets for cold and warm temperatures – is the best to have as it is the most efficient to have around the house. It is important to avoid taps with a single lever for both temperatures as they encourage users to use warm water every time. Full-flow shower faucets are good to avoid too, as they waste water massively.

Equipment around the house that use water in large amounts should be the most efficient you can afford/find, especially the likes of toilets and washing machines. Having a toilet that allows you to flush at a minimum and maximum level is the best, and using the former as much as possible will obviously be the better option.

Lighting the home

Try to avoid the use of dark colours in large areas as they will sap the light and heat from the room. It is important to use fair colours for areas such as kitchen tops, dining tables and carpets.

As fluorescent lighting is so much more efficient than candescent, look to use the former in rooms where lighting is on for long periods of times; areas of the home such as the kitchen, living rooms and offices.

For rooms that don’t get much use, perhaps consider installing motion sensors for your lighting so that energy isn’t wasted if you forget to turn it off.

Greener Ideal is an independent environmental news and lifestyle publication that has been curating content since 2008 to further the green movement. The views expressed by contributing authors are their own and may not reflect those of Greener Ideal.

  • mcutlerwelsh

    Nice summary of what can be an overwhelming process. Definitely good to focus on configuration (and size!) first, then insulation.

    One comment would be to get the design energy modelled at the outset. You may find that complex heating systems may not even be required, depending on where you live. Many people might be surprised where houses can be built that don’t required fixed heating.

  • Richard Scott Mills

    #1 Air sealing it is the lowest cost most effective thing that you can do for your house. Think a thermos, it is only a can with a jar inside. It keeps your drink at temp for hours because there is no air movement. Dead air is the best insulation. Wall connections to roof, floor, foundation, windows and doors need to be sealed tight. Insulation will not stop air movement within walls which is the main cause of negative heat transfer from exterior to interior.