Reducing our impact on the environment and ensuring new homes are more energy efficient is a major opportunity to significantly cut energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. With Australian households being directly responsible for approximately 20% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions the potential to have a positive impact on the environment is significant. The average household’s energy use generates over 7 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, which could be reduced by considering energy efficiency early in the design and construction of new homes. Here’s 8 eco-friendly ideas to make sure that your new energy efficient eco home saves energy, reduces energy bills and is thermally comfortable to live in year-round.
What is an Energy Efficient Eco Home?
An energy efficient Eco home simply uses less energy to achieve the same outcomes. All new homes need to comply with the 6-star standard in the National Construction Code. But just a one-star increase can reduce your heating and cooling energy needs and energy bills by 30 per cent.
Our range of modular homes offer improved energy efficiency, click here to learn more.
1. Good Design = Better Energy Efficiency
An energy efficient house design means adopting Passive Solar design principals and designing to the constraints of a specific site is paramount for the energy efficiency of a new home. A standardised ‘cut and paste’ floorplan won’t take into account site orientation to natural light, site shape, slope, existing flora or fauna, and location specific climate variations. Engaging the services of a professional building designer who assesses the site can provide the right advice on a home design to suit the site and climate. Specific design and detailing of insulation levels; window detailing, sizing and location; internal zoning, location of living areas; effective sealing should all be incorporated in each new home design to ensure energy efficiency. Homes with high performing energy efficient design with a significantly better star rating maintain moderate temperatures, low humidity and increased air quality resulting in a reduction in artificial heating and cooling. A reduction in energy also results in obvious cost savings. Not to mention potentially higher resale value when it’s time to move.
2. Prefabricated Eco Modular Home Offer Improved Energy Efficiency
Prefabricated modular homes offer a new level of energy efficiency in buildings. The combination of investing in the thermal performance of building fabric and constructing in a controlled factory setting result in a more airtight and energy efficient home than site-built counterparts. Designed with an optimal insulation layout, prefab modular homes are compact making it less expensive to control internal temperatures than in a regular dwelling.
Adapting a holistic approach to energy efficiency and integration of additional features such as features like LED lighting, Energy Star appliances, solar panels and water tanks in the designs can further reduce month-to-month energy costs. The relationship between reducing your impact on the environment and energy efficiency homes is clear and should be considered early in the planning stages of your new home.
Consciously focussing on achieving optimum energy efficiency and fundamentally shifting the way we produce and consume will help to create a legacy of high-quality housing that will contribute to a better built environment and future sustainability. The lasting impact exists in every small daily decision made towards striving towards making the shift towards Energy Efficiency in your home.
3. Harnessing Renewable Energy is Key
Most of the energy we use in Australia comes from electricity, wood and natural gas.
Electricity represents 50% of energy used in Australian households. This is large component of the household budget and unfortunately contributes to 85% of greenhouse gas emissions, because electricity is still mainly produced by using fossil fuels – so the more energy efficient we become, the less emissions we’ll generate. Installing renewable energy systems that harness naturally generated energy, both grid connected and stand alone, operate with low running costs and have the potential to reduce or eliminate electricity bills. To get the most out of a renewable energy system, minimising energy demand in the home is crucial so being a mindful consumer is Paramount.
4. Managing Heating and Cooling during Temperature Extremes
Climate extremes during warmer and cooler months are often combatted with artificial heating and cooling to ensure internal comfort. Depending on the climate zone, heating and/or cooling can account for 20%–50% of energy used in Australian homes. Purchasing heaters and air conditioning systems with high energy star ratings can save approximately 10% on running costs. Keeping doors shut, blinds drawn and locating the heating/cooling system away from windows will help regulate internal temperatures. Setting the thermostat between 18 and 20 degrees will also save energy as simply reducing the temperature by 1 degree can save up to 10% of running costs.
Floorplan and design play a big role in energy efficiency homes.
5. Install Energy Efficient Lighting
Efficient and well-designed lighting can make for significant energy savings. Implementing a lighting design strategy and layout to maximise daylight so artificial lighting is not required during the day can significantly contribute to energy efficiency. Lighting decisions need to take into account the characteristics of globe technologies such as LED, lighting switches and controls, safety requirements, and the life cycle costs of varying options. Simply by installing LED downlights can use 85% less energy than halogen or incandescent lighting and have double the lifespan.
6. Switch Off your Electrical Appliances
It is estimated that electrical appliances represent approximately 40% of a household’s energy use. The energy use in an average Australian household produces 12 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, so remember to switch off appliances at the power socket to save up to 10% on energy bills.
7. Be Mindful of your Hot Water Usage
Heating water accounts for 21% of the energy used in the average Australian home, and is the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions (approximately 22%) from home energy use. Electric water heaters in particular contribute to these high emissions. Reducing hot water use and using renewable energy sources to heat water are effective ways to reduce your environmental impact. The most appropriate and efficient hot water service can be found for your household size, water use patterns and climate. With up to 60 per cent of an average hot water bill attributed to heat loss from pipes, making sure rooms using hot water are grouped together taking advantage of shorter pipes can minimise heat loss and contribute to energy efficiency.
8. Install an Energy Consumption Monitor to Track Your Energy Consumption
An invaluable tool for monitoring energy consumption, an electricity usage meter provides instant feedback on energy usage, cost and estimated CO2 emissions, helping to reduce the homes carbon footprint and the opportunity to better manage energy use.
Interested in owning your own energy efficient home?
‘Energy Smart Housing Manual’, Sustainability Victoria, www.sustainability.vic.gov.au
Department of the Environment and Sustainability, www.energy.gov.au