What is an Energy Efficient Home?
Energy Efficient Homes aims at reducing energy consumption in the house. This can be achieved through several tips. You may be aware of some of the tips like reducing the consumption of electrical energy and using 5-star rated appliances.
But do you know that building an energy efficient homes starts right from its planning?! Yes, if the house is planned effectively, it can help in reducing energy consumption throughout its lifespan.
Along with ensuring health benefits, a considerable amount of money is also saved by employing these Energy Efficient Homes Tips.
Why Energy Efficient Homes are Necessary?
- We are living in a generation where conventional energy sources are used at a rapid rate. The need to save them for our future generations is something we all are aware of.
- Moreover, a large amount of time is spent at home, and by making a house energy efficient homes, these conventional energy sources can either be reduced or non-conventional methods are employed.
- Besides this, the additional insulation keeps the temperature inside the four walls of your home relatively stable and that can keep you comfortable.
- Extra insulation accompanied by plantation reduces the intrusion of noise from the outside.
Why They are Not Implemented on a Large Scale?
Now you may think if Energy Efficient Homes are beneficial, why are they not so popular?
The thing is some of the tips for energy efficient homes have started gaining popularity nowadays. And some of them are still under development.
Some of the limiting factors are
- The initial costing is higher as compared to traditional housing. However, much of the cost is recovered after some time.
- If new construction techniques are not employed, then a longer time is spent in the construction.
- Though not many structural and construction changes are needed for making energy efficient homes, the builders and contractors hesitate in exploring the new ways. One of the reasons is they need to abandon what they are already doing and train the laborers too.
That’s the basics you should be aware of regarding energy efficient homes. Noe lets plunge into what can be done for the same. Even if you cannot utilize all of them, employing some of them can help you out with your hefty electricity bills too!
Here, we have discussed some of the tips to make energy efficient homes.
How to Build an Energy Efficient Home
Pre-Construction Phase of Energy Efficient Homes
I) Smart Planning
Smart planning can reduce the future costs incurred in the building. Some of the smart planning considerations are listed below:
1. Evaluation of the Site
The first thing you should look into if you are constructing a new house would be the evaluation of the site. It gives you an idea on what orientation should be kept, the direction, location of the road, aesthetical view, and so on.
2. Using the Natural Element – Sun
By locating the kitchen facing east, the living room in the south, or study towards the north; the natural light can be utilised effectively.
For this, the path of the sun for your site should be determined and the building rooms should be planned accordingly. This is an important aspect of making energy efficient homes.
3. Using the Natural Element – Wind
The wind blows in a specific direction at a particular point of time in the year. This can be studied by the wind-rose diagram.
Locating bedrooms where the wind is blowing reduces the cost of conditioning the room. Besides, water closets should not fall in the path of wind to ensure that the foul smell does not propagate inside the house.
4. Building Envelope
A building should be enveloped thermally.
The thermal envelope includes all that provides shielding to the inside of the house from the external environment.
Wall and roof assemblies, insulation, weather-stripping, and windows are all included in the thermal envelope.
Read More: 5 Types of Paint Finishes for Your Home
Properly insulating your home can save heating and cooling costs. Insulation helps to keep the house cooler in summer and warmer in winter. This can save air conditioning costs.
The R-value of energy efficient homes is much higher as compared to the conventional home.
R-value represents the capacity of a material to resist heat transfer. If it is lower, heat is lost rapidly.
A well-insulated house can possess the R-value up to R-20 to R-30 in walls while R-50 to R-70 in the ceilings. However, these values also depend on the climatic conditions of the region the house is situated in.
Windows are opening in the house. Windows are crucial as far as savings in energy is concerned as they count for more than 25 % heat loss. Proper utilization of these openings can help in saving considerable energy and also help in making energy efficient homes.
- Keep maximum windows on the south side of the house. As you may know, the orientation for various rooms, living rooms, drawing room, and other common rooms are kept towards the southern side. So, providing windows here reduces the requirement of lighting and keeps the room cooler too.
- If the windows are to be replaced in your home, then go for storm windows or windows with weather stripping.
- Window areas should e limited to 8-9 % of the floor area. This placement of the window is called solar temping.
- Properly designed overhang on the windows even on the southern-facing windows can prevent the over-heating in the hotter seasons. it will block the direct sun rays.
- Casement type of windows provides better insulation as compared to the sliding ones. This is because they can be closed more tightly.
- A casement window with overhang is shown below:
7. Air Retarders
No matter what the climate is condensation of water vapour is always dangerous.
If you inhabit in colder climates, warm and moist air is brought indoors because of the pressure difference.
After the air is cooled, it is condensed.
In a humid climate, as the air comes in contact with the wall cavities, they condense into liquid water owing to the colder wall cavities.
Air retarders prevent the airflow from the inside and outside of the building. Drywall can be used as air retarders.
8. Sealing the House
Sealing of the house can help with the insulation of the house.
Large structural sheets of plywood or other material can be provided for the same.
This exterior sheathing can help by forming a barrier to air exchange, and thus insulating the house.
Special care should be exercised during the sheathing near the openings of walls including door, window, joists, penetrations, and joints at the junction of the roof, walls, and floors.
Provision of sheathing to form a barrier for air-exchange is preferred because of its low cost, though it has much labour work.
9. Reduced Penetrations In Walls
Ductless heat pump can be installed. The refrigerant lines of these ductless pumps reduce the size of penetrations. While the large ducts require massive holes in the wall.
Outside plumbing should be kept as minimum as possible. Fixtures for sinks and other plumbing elements should be fixed on interior walls.
Sealant should be used for the door and window frames with caulk or flexible tape of a suitable size.
Instead of single-shutter, double shutter doors should be used. They help in creating airlocks.
10. HVAC- Heating Ventilation and Cooling Systems:
Half of the energy accounts for heating and cooling systems. Therefore, insulation is an important aspect explained earlier on to ensure heat retention.
Air filters should be changed regularly and conditioning units should be serviced regularly.
Besides, ducts should be properly sealed and insulated for massive losses in filtered air occur while they traverse through these ducts if care is not taken.
Leakage and improper sealing cause loss of about 20 % of air.
11. Heating and Cooling Systems
Normally, energy efficient homes do not require much heating even in colder climates. The heat liberated from appliance usage can do the work.
Smaller capacity heating and cooling systems suffice the need if any. The smaller units are cheaper and much easy to operate and maintain.
Light-colored coatings can be applied to the exterior of the building so that light is reflected and it can save up to 15 % of the total cost in heating and cooling systems.
Steps to Make Energy Efficient Homes AFTER You Move In:
12. Utilize Solar Energy
If you are living in such an area where unobstructed sunlight is available, then you should definitely consider installing solar panels and reduce conventional energy usage. Energy needs for your home should be identified and then it should be decided how you want to install the solar lighting for your home.
13.Water Heating System – Enhance Its Efficiency:
Heating up of water has become a major energy consumer since the last few decades. Enhancing its efficiency can hence help in reducing energy usage to a great extent.
Apart from installing a solar water heater, you can even employ new innovative technologies that have been coming up in the market.
Tankless water heaters are one such alternative.
Most of us at present use storage water heaters of size about 20-80 gallons. Some of the people use even laager capacity heaters.
These utilise propane, natural gas, electricity, or oil as fuel.
And, not a single one out of these is ‘not’ costly.
The principle of these water heaters is to heat the water and store it in the insulated tank. When the tap is turned on, hot water is released from the top part of this storage tank while cold water enters inside the tank simultaneously. Thus, the continuous flow of water is maintained and hot water does not run out.
The issue is this: even if the faucets are turned off- if you are not utilising the hot water, some energy loses occur. If the tank does not have strong insulation, heat will be lost from it too. This is termed as standby losses.
And the losses incurred by the pipes are termed as distribution losses.
Hence, reducing the tank size will amount to the lesser surface area and hence fewer standby losses.
Another alternative is to switch to demand or instantaneous water heaters. These heaters do not store hot water, rather they heat the water only when there is a demand.
For these water heaters, a continuous supply of hot water is ensured, but the flow rate is affected. Also, they are not suitable for every situation. Hence, your situation should be analyzed completely before switching to it. if there are on;y one or two members in your home, then demand water heaters can work out for you.
Even if any of the above options do not suit you, you can still conserve a part of the energy utilized by the heaters. By providing an additional insulating layer on the storage tank, standby losses will be reduced and it won’t cost you much. This can make energy efficient homes.
Skylight is a type of window located on the roof. This allows extra light to fall in the room, and hence reducing the electricity usage.
However, a major drawback of skylight is that it forms a hole in the ceiling. The ceiling is a component of the house that should be highly insulated, instead, it creates an opening in the ceiling.
Also, the frames required for a skylight is complicated in structure and hence the penetration for a skylight is difficult for insulation. Sealants are also difficult to apply.
Also, skylight causes heat loss in winter as it faces up and in summers, it introduces irritable heat.
Skylights should be double-paned to increase their effectivity.
A professional engineer should be first consulted to ensure the efficiency of a skylight and avoid its cons.
Energy Efficient Homes
15. Accessories to Window
While most of the window treatments are done for aesthetic appearance and décor purposes, they can help reduce the energy costs too.
Window treatment can also reduce the usage of air conditioners as they help with the insulation.
If you are looking for an option with low-cost, then you can choose one of the following options for your windows:
Drapes and blinds are far more effective with the insulation as compared to fabric curtains. To achieve increased insulation, a curtain can be covered over the blinds.
16. A Big NO to Incandescent Light Bulbs:
Incandescent light bulbs though cheaper at first, prove to be much costlier in the long run. Avoid using these bulbs that consume a huge amount of electrical power.
CFL bulbs are a far better option than the incandescent bulbs. It reduces energy usage by one-third as compared to that of incandescent bulbs.
CFL saves about 75 % of electrical power. Furthermore, its durability is also more than Incandescent light bulbs by about 10 %.
LED can save more energy and last for an even longer time than the CFLs.
17. Energy Efficient Homes Lighting:
You need artificial lighting at your home. Rather than randomly selecting one, install a functional lighting system for your home as per your requirement.
Natural daylight available at free of cost should be most utilised. It proves great for flat horizontal working surfaces like desks, study table, kitchen counters, and so on. Also, these are the places that require illumination at its best. Some of the architectural pieces also need focused lighting so that they are highlighted.
Provide proper lighting to those points and consider ambient lighting for the rest of the space. Indirect lighting can be used too for this purpose.
Placement of south-facing windows in living areas as discussed above also serves this purpose.
LED lights are most-effective and durable light sources. Nowadays, they are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Different brightness and warmth levels are also available. Warmth levels- daylight, white, and yellow are quite popular these days.
18. 5-Star Rating Appliances
While purchasing electrical appliances and electronics products, the star-rating should always be kept in mind. Identify your need and select right-sized appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines.
Compare and find out which appliance would be cost-efficient. For instance, as compared to gas ovens, microwave ovens require less energy.
Do keep in mind that many electronics appliances like big-screen televisions and gaming consoles consume energy even when they are turned off- this is called the phantom load.
Installation of manual on-off switches should be considered to avoid this phantom load.
|Energy Star Appliances||Savings in Energy|
|Washing machines||30 %|
Besides using less electrical power, energy star washing machines also conserves about 50 % of the water.
Read More: 40+ Ways to Save Energy at Home
19.Replace the Worn-out Appliances
If the appliance has been worn out, consider replacing them. These appliances consume much more power which adds on to the cost too.
Also, to ensure that the appliance lasts long, proper maintenance is a necessary step.
20. Don’t Leave the Appliances Plugged In
If you are going on a vacation, don’t forget to optimise the electrical appliances like refrigerators, televisions, gaming consoles, computers, etc.
Even better, turn them off if possible.
If you are using the furnace for your home, then check its efficiency. It is recommended that the furnace should give around 90 % efficiency so that the wastage is reduced to less than 10 %. This can account for saving in your electricity bill up to 27 %.
22. Cooking Habits
Modifying your cooking habits a bit can save you chunks of cents on electricity bills.
- Prefer convection ovens rather than conventional ovens. It can save up to 20 % of electrical energy.
- Microwave ovens are a far better option- it can save an enormous about 80 % of energy as compared to traditional ovens.
- Employ pressure cookers whenever possible rather than using pans. They reduce the cooking time
- Cover the pots and pans with lids.
- Place the cooking plate on the top rack of the conventional oven- it is hotter.
Flooring aids to maintain the temperature of the insides of the house.
You can cover your floor with carpet or rugs to ensure that much heat is not lost. And this will not even cost much.
Some Other Tips
If you have a good landscape available, then consider plantation of tres and plants around your home.
Not only will they help in insulation but they will also act as air-filters and reduce polluted air in your vicinity.
They also act as noise barriers if your house is located nearby a busy street.
Deciduous trees are most useful for this purpose if your geographical location allows their growth.
As many leaves grow in summer on these trees, shade is provided in the hot season while in winter these trees shed the leaves. This allows the winter sun to enter inside the home.
25. Conservation of Energy
Instil the habit of conserving the energy as and wherever possible.
Switch off the lights as you move out of the room.
Remember to turn off the appliances when not in use.
All these habits can save precious energy and also aid in reducing pollution.
Build Energy Efficient House at a Glance:
|1||Site evaluation||=> Study the details around your site|
|2||Passive solar energy|| => Maximize the use of solar lightKeep the kitchen facing east|
=> Provide maximum south-facing windows
|3||Natural wind currents|| => Provide bedrooms in the south-west or southern direction so that the rooms remain cooler.|
=> Avoid placing water closets in the wind directions
|4||Building envelope||=> Thermally enveloping the building aids in insulation|
|5||Insulation|| => R-value should be kept higher.|
=> Laying a sheathing of plywood sheets on exterior walls.
|6||Windows|| => Keep maximum windows facing southInsulate them or provide weather stripping to the windows.|
=> Prefer casement windows over sliding ones.
=> Design overhang properly over the window to reduce the glare
|7||Air retarders||=> Air encountering the wall cavities can cause serious problems Drywalls can be employed.|
|8||Reduction in wall penetrations|| => Avoid ducts in the house.|
=> Provide double-shutter doors if possible.
|9||Heating and cooling systems|| => Smaller capacity units are sufficient.|
=> Apply light coating o exterior walls so that they can reflect the light.
Post-construction Phase- Day-to-day Life
|10||Solar power||=> Employ a solar power system for your home, if unobstructed sunlight is available|
|Water heating system|| => Check the efficiency of the water heating system at your home.|
=>If there are few members at your home, go for tankless heaters
|Skylight|| => A skylight can help in introducing additional light from the rooftops.|
=> However, consult with a designer first to select its position and avoid the cons
|Window accessories||=> Blinds can be preferred over the fabric curtains for windows|
|Light bulbs|| => Do NOT use incandescent light bulbs.|
=> CFL bulbs can be used.
=> LED is the best lighting option
|Lighting|| => Use focused lighting on the study desk, kitchen counter, etc.|
=> Ambient lighting is sufficient to light up space in general
|Electronics||=> 5-star rated appliances should be preferred|
|Replacing older appliances||=> The appliances whose usability has come to an end should be replaces|
|Furnace||=> Using furnaces that have 90 % efficiency can save your electricity bill by 27 %|
|Switch-off||=> Remember to turn off the appliances when not in use|
|Cooking appliances|| => Convection ovens should be preferred.|
=> Employ microwave ovens whenever feasible.
=> Pressure cookers should be used instead of pots and pans.
=> Pans should be kept covered.
=> The cooking plate should be placed on the top rack of the oven
|Flooring||=> Flooring can be covered by carpet or rugs; it won’t even cost much And also give a better look|
|Plantation|| => Planting deciduous trees can be much useful with insulation.|
=> Do check which trees are suitable for your location.
=> Gives pollution-free air.
=> Cuts off outside noise tooKeeps environment coolProvides a better aesthetic view.
Now, the next question arising in your mind may be whether you should actually opt-out for energy efficient homes or not? Is it a good investment?
The best way is to try it out. Don’t go for huge investments at once. There are many negligible and low-budget tips that you can implement. Try them out. And notice the change in the consumption of electricity.
While you are purchasing new appliances for your home or planning to renovate your home, do keep in mind the energy factor too.
Develop a habit of avoiding wastage of energy in your everyday life. Conventional energy production causes many detrimental effects on the environment. So, let us come together and contribute by at least
AVOIDING ENERGY WASTAGE!
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