Designing an eco-friendly home is no easy task, since you need to consider many different factors. One of the most important concerns should be making your home energy efficient. Through careful planning, design, and the use of sustainable building materials, you can easily reduce your electric bills. Before you decide to create an energy efficient home, it is a good idea to consult with the professionals at BRANZ (Building Research Association of New Zealand), EECA (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority), or the people on your local council for advice.
Solar Power & Heat Retention
When you design your home, keep in mind that solar power is a viable option to replace purchased electricity. You should design your roof or walls to allow solar panels to be mounted at the ideal angles for maximum sunlight exposure. Solar panels can be used year round and can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Another great design idea is to install big windows on the north side of your home to maximise natural lighting and allow for natural airflow in the home. Using brick or concrete for walls can serve as a natural heating solution for your house as well since heat sinks. By using under-floor, wall and ceiling insulation and using double-glazed windows, you can also maximise your energy efficiency.
Use Ceiling Fans in Reverse
Many people never consider the fact that using ceiling fans to pull air upwards rather than push air down is more energy efficient and more effective. In order to do this, you should either flip the direction of your fan blades or use the reverse setting. Many fans today have a small switch on them that will reverse the direction that the fan blade spins. By putting it in reverse, it will pull the hot air upwards, cooling your home which can save up to 10% of the electricity bill.
Caulk & Weather Stripping
If you use a cooling system in your home such as central air or an HVAC system, you should consider the amount of energy wasted or lost because of small leaks in doors and windows. You should perform inspections of any areas where two different typed of building materials come into contact, such as wood and concrete or cement blocks and aluminium.
An excellent test for any air leaks is to use an incense stick and hold it near the seams and if you see the smoke waver, you can identify the areas where air escapes and enters your home. You can also have someone stand on the outside of the windows or doors holding a fan or hair dryer up to the seam and use a candle on the inside; when the candle flame flickers or goes out, you know you have a leak.
When you have identified the trouble areas, simply apply a weather strip or a layer of caulk to the area to seal the leaks. It is estimated that about 15-30% of lost energy is due to faulty seals, so this simple process can save you up to a few hundred dollars annually.
Energy Efficient Devices
When you purchase electrical appliances for your kitchen or general use in your home, you should look for the Energy Star logo that identifies it as an energy compliant device. These devices have passed rigorous energy consumption tests and are guaranteed to be the most energy efficient models. Microwaves, refrigerators, electric stoves, hair dryers, and even desktop computers can use a lot of electricity over their lifetime, but you can minimise it by using the right brands and models.