Did you know that approximately 35% – 40% of an average household’s energy consumption is used for heating and/or cooling to achieve thermal comfort for the occupants?

This rate could be cut to almost zero when designing new energy efficient homes / renovation or at the very least, it can be substantially less than the 40%.

Some of the key aspects that influence how energy efficient your home / renovation is include:

  • the design of the home itself
  • the features you can install for optimal heating and cooling
  • and the orientation of your home play a key part in being able to reduce your energy bill.

A recent article in the Australian Financial Review (10/11th September) titled ‘Green home green wallet’ gave some good examples of the financial benefits that building new energy efficient homes or modifying older homes can deliver.

One key consideration is always the site and its particular orientation. It’s best to choose a site or home with good orientation for the specific climatic and regional conditions. Building or renovating your home should maximise the site’s potential for passive heating and cooling, while considering the particular climate in the location. Poor orientation can exclude winter sun and / or cause overheating in summer when low angle east or west sun hits glass surfaces. This can create a greenhouse effect where it’s not required.

A good source of information about orientation is, for example, the Australian Government’s ‘Your Home’ website. It provides rich information about how to best orientate your home, consider climate impacts and where to seek advice: http://www.yourhome.gov.au/passive-design/orientation.

When you plan to build an energy efficient home or in fact to renovate your current home in a specific climate it is recommended to:

“Compare your summer and winter energy bills, consult an architect or building designer, ask your local energy authority or refer to local meteorological records.”

Due to their specific climates, some states such as South Australia and Western Australia, provide greater benefits than other states when implementing energy efficient modifications to your home.

Energy efficient homes or renovations – Checklists

The ‘Your Home’ Government website site provides a number of useful checklists.

The checklist below on ‘designing a new home or renovating’ is a good overview of things you can do or features to look for in order to achieve optimal thermal comfort for your home:

  • Relocate living areas to take advantage of winter sun and cooling summer breezes.
  • Maximise north-facing daytime living areas where passive solar access is available.
  • Use smaller, well shaded windows to increase cross-ventilation to the south, east and west.
  • Avoid west-facing bedrooms to maintain sleeping comfort.
  • Locate utility areas (laundries, bathrooms and garages) on the south or west where possible.
  • Avoid placing obstructions such as carports or sheds to the north.
  • Plant shade trees in appropriate locations; landscape to funnel cool breezes and block or filter harsh winds.
  • Prune vegetation that blocks winter sun; alternatively plant deciduous vegetation that allows winter sun in but provides summer shade.’

(source: http://www.yourhome.gov.au/passive-design/orientation)

Interestingly the article also states that ‘… there are signs that market demand for smaller, better designed homes is growing rapidly, driven largely by affordability and rising energy costs.’ This would be a good trend for both the environment and energy efficient housing in Australia.

At Jim Demetriou Group, we take building energy efficient homes seriously and carefully consider how best to design and plan your new home or redesign your existing home to make it more sustainable.

If you are interested in using energy efficient principals within your project that will give you a more comfortable space in winter and summer without major energy bills we would love to hear from you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us when you are ready.