Tips for building a sustainable and environment friendly home
These days many homeowners prefer that the home should have an environmental friendly design with sustainable architecture. Building such a home can help reduce the impact on our environment and also lower the carbon footprint. In this article the term environmental design would be used to talk about sustainable architecture.
There are many benefits of going for a good environmental design. It can help ensure the comfort of the occupants of a building to allow them to be comfortably warm during winter and cool during summer.
The following are a few things you need to focus on when building an eco friendly home.
Choosing a design for your home
The first thing you need to do before starting the design of a home is to choose the right kind of site. It is best to go for a site which is flat and has a backyard which faces towards the North side. A site like this allows you to build a passive solar home which is completely environment friendly.
Sun and orientation
Before you start building your home you need to assess the direction of the sun light on your site. Once you know you can design the orientation of internal space is in such a way that it face towards the north and remain comfortable all year round. However it is not quite possible to attain a design like this however there are certain basic rules which you can follow to ensure that your home remains thermally comfortable.
Use of sun control devices
There are certain ways in which you can control the amount of sunlight which enters your home and helps keep your house cool during the warm summer months..
For homes that receive too much sunlight it is essential that all Windows and doors should have a shading depth of 900 mm. Using the normal 600mm would not be enough and would not provide protection from the sunlight.
Other control devices
Sometimes people do not have an option but to orient the home towards the west side. This would make sun passivity a major issue. However you can use other creative ideas to ensure that your home remains cool. One way to do so is to plant deciduous trees 10 meters away from your home. This allows the sunlight to be filtered through the leaves and not heat your home directly. Another option is to make use of adjustable window devices like an awning or a louver system.
Selecting the room orientation
You also need to keep in mind the sun orientation for a building which faces the Eastern side. It is best to build bathrooms and store rooms on that side only. It is quite possible to physically cut of these rooms to control the hot sun. The bedroom should be built on the east side because it allows the morning sunlight to stream in and reduces the need for artificial lighting during the day.
Insulating your home
If you want to save up on the electricity bills for your new home you must consider insulating the walls and the ceilings. This can be achieved with the help of wall cladding which have a higher R value. The higher the R value of the cladding the longer it would take for the heat to enter your home.
Some people prefer having their homes timber framed and do not need to make use of insulation. However this can cause them to rate poorly with the building sustainability index or BASIX. There are quite a few products which can be used in place of insulation, however the most popular kind of the sheets which can prevent loss of cool air from the air conditioner.
Another option is to go for Sarking which takes the heat away from the roof and the walls. It can be considered as a kind of insulating blanket which is laid on top of the roof or under the roof battens.
There are also other options available in the market. It comprises of cladding on one side and lining on the other with insulation in between the two.
There are certain buildings which can be cladded with material that has thermal benefits. For example products such as concrete field blocks, double brakes, mat brakes and hay bales which can offer warmth in winter and coolness during summer.
Choosing doors and windows
If you have made use of proper insulation you can simply go for doors and windows which have a standard single glazing invest in double glazed doors or Windows.
The following are few basic types of doors and windows which are available to be used. It is also important to consider the size and location of your Windows.
The following are certain rules which you can follow to reduce the energy from escaping outside your home:
- Smaller Windows should be placed on the Western side to reduce the amount of sunlight which enters into your home
- The larger window should face on the northern side of the house
- The medium window should be placed on the east side of the house
- the smallest Windows should be kept for the southern side of the home to reduce the amount of heat which would escape during winter.
- If you are considering using skylights make sure that you build these sparingly.
Choosing the colour scheme
When it comes to choosing the colour scheme for your home it should be in keeping with the weather conditions. If you go for dark coloured schemes, you should keep in mind that it is going to heat up your home pretty fast. On the other hand light colours like white or dark grey would facilitate the coolness.
It is also important to include locks in the spaces so that they can be thermally cut off from one another. It is also possible for people with an open plan living space to include air locks into the spaces. Make sure you have a detail talk with the contractor to get an idea of how and where you should insulate open spaces to provide you with maximum temperature control.
Things to keep in mind before starting the sub floor construction
The basement of your house is known as the subfloor and it is important to pay attention to its construction to help keep the energy cost down and save up on the utility bills.
You can do so by cladding the floor so that no energy is lost through the basement. This can be done by laying down a concrete slab directly onto the floor so that the basement becomes more energy efficient and the concrete floor draws the heat away from the rest of the home. In the cold weather the same concrete floor would prevent the loss of heat as well.
Constructing the roof
The shape of your roof would have a major impact on temperature control of the internal space of your home. If you have to go for a flat roof then you make sure that it is properly insulated with R V insulation. It is also important that you consider roof ventilation because it can help remove the excess heat from your home and it also prevents the hot air from the roof to radiate through the ceiling. A roof can dramatically reduce the electricity bill by reducing the cooling and heating requirements
Always consider the wastage
It is common for there to be a whole lot of wastage when you are constructing your home you just need to be careful that any amount or material that is wasted is put to good use. The same raw material which has been wasted can be used to fill up the concrete blocks or the bricks. You can even choose to send it to recycle yard and there are companies which would take away these materials for free.
Improving the energy efficiency of your home
You can improve the energy efficiency of your home by investing in products which have a high energy star rating. Whether it is an air conditioner or room heater or a washing machine, make sure that you use products that are energy efficient.
The hot water system
The amount of heat which is required for a regular hot water system amounts for around 60% of your Total energy requirements. There is a whole variety of hot water systems available in the market which varies in terms of efficiency and price. An electric water heater is going to cost you more plus it is not as energy efficient as a gas boosted solar system. Do consider the latter as an option when looking for hot water systems for your new home.
Invest in the right kind of curtains
Curtains can help reduce loss of energy. These can cover the windows and prevent the heat from directly entering into your home. On the other hand the curtains also allow you the option of being able to control the amount of Sunlight which enters into your home. Blinds are a good option as well but they might not offer you the same kind of energy efficiency which curtains do.
Increasing water efficiency
There is a general rule that most councils in Australia follow and that is to include a 5000L rainwater tank in all residential buildings. Some even go as far as to include the installation of an extra storm water tank which is required to capture the overflow from the rainwater tank especially in hard paved areas. There are several options for homeowners to choose from which include underground tanks, in slab water tanks and bladder tanks.
There are water efficient fittings available which comply with the 3A compliance requirement for wet area fittings and you even have the option of going for 5 A rated products.
The use of Eco friendly materials and its impact on pollution
Despite the fact that you may be using eco-friendly materials these might still be manufactured in the Factory. The by products of these eco-friendly materials are often toxic and release harmful chemicals.
There is arsenic found in treated pine, mercury is present in fluorescent bulbs and there are various toxic by products released in the manufacturing of PVC. Make sure that you take informed decisions when building your eco-friendly home.
Building in eco friendly home is not quite as simple as it might seem. You need to carry out the right kind of research and have also got to deal with a whole lot of things. This is why it is essential to hire the right kind of contractors, who would enable you to live in a non toxic and energy efficient home.