Green Home Building - 8 Ways to Save Energy from the Ground Up
04 July 2023
With rising electricity costs and increasing concerns about climate change, building an energy-efficient home has become a priority for many. A house designed with energy efficiency in mind, not only helps reduce environmental impact but also leads to significant long-term savings on electricity bills. These are just some of the ways that homeowners can take a responsible and economically sound approach to building a green home from the ground up.
Smart Design and Orientation
When it comes to constructing an energy-efficient home from the ground up, one of the primary considerations should be the design and orientation of the building. Positioning the home to take advantage of natural light and prevailing winds reduces the need for artificial light and mechanical cooling and heating. In colder climates, south-facing windows allow for optimal heat gain, while in warmer regions this position creates adequate shade to prevent the home from becoming too hot.
In order to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature, proper insulation is key. This will minimise the need for excessive heating or cooling. High-quality materials such as fibreglass, cellulose, or spray foam can reduce heat loss during winter and heat gain during summer. To significantly improve energy efficiency, homeowners should insulate the walls, ceiling and foundation.
Efficient Windows and Doors
Heat transfer often occurs through windows and doors but there are energy-efficient options available to minimise this loss. Double or triple-pane windows with low-emissivity coatings will reduce heat transfer. There are also energy-efficient framing materials such as vinyl or fibreglass, which have superior insulation properties compared to traditional aluminium frames. Property owners looking to improve their home’s energy efficiency can also employ weatherstripping and proper sealing techniques to help reduce air leaks around doors and windows.
Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling Systems
The right heating and cooling systems can play an important role in saving energy. High-efficiency furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps can significantly reduce energy consumption. Programmable thermostats enable you to schedule temperature adjustments based on occupancy, reducing wasted energy. Geothermal and solar heating and cooling systems are also great energy-efficient options.
Replacing traditional incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient alternatives such as LEDs (light emitting diodes) will automatically result in energy savings. LED bulbs consume less electricity, have longer lifespans, and emit less heat. For outdoor areas, solar fixtures that are powered up by the energy of the sun are ideal for reducing energy consumption.
Water usage may not be directly related to energy consumption but it does form an important part of any environmentally conscious home. Low-flow showerheads, faucets and dual-flush toilets all reduce waste without compromising comfort. There is also the option of harvesting rainwater for outdoor irrigation and adopting landscaping practices that contribute to sustainable water management.
Renewable Energy Integration
An increasingly popular feature of South African homes thanks to load shedding, solar panels installed on the roof reduce dependency on conventional electricity. By generating electricity on-site, homeowners can offset energy costs and even contribute surplus energy back to the grid.
Building Materials and Construction Techniques
If creating a green home from the ground up is a priority, then choosing sustainable building materials such as recycled or locally sourced products will reduce the carbon footprint commonly associated with construction. Additionally, implementing energy-efficient construction techniques, like advanced framing or insulated concrete forms, can improve thermal performance and reduce material waste.