The energy outcomes you achieve in your home will be influenced at many stages during your project, and will require input from designers, builders and suppliers of systems as the project evolves.
1. Define your priorities and set objectives
2. Estimate your energy use
An energy profile of your house is a detailed breakdown of the systems and appliances that use energy. It analyses how much they use and how often they are used to estimate annual energy consumption and its dollar value.
3. Decide if a rating tool or certification is right for you
4. Prioritise and test design
Finding ways to make the most of the surrounding environment will be cost-effective and will have a great impact on future energy use. Passive solar is a key element of good design. As part of their training, architects and some architectural designers are familiar with the principles of passive solar. If energy efficiency is sought, engaging a professional with experience on passive solar design is key. Passive solar strategies such as including eaves and shading devices on the north, east and west, narrower building shapes, and increased thermal mass can have a significant impact on a project’s energy use, especially with regard to the energy required for heating and cooling.
- the effect different design options will have on the energy required to heat or cool your home to achieve desired temperature ranges.
- the effect of different options for placing or orientating your home on the site by showing how shading from surrounding buildings, contours, vegetation and self-shading will affect passive solar heating and summer overheating.
- the effect different glazing and insulation options will have on letting heat into your home and retaining it.
5. Use systems and products to optimise the design
- Appliances and whiteware
- Water pumping
- Heating and cooling
- Energy generation
6. Build well
In addition to the quality of the design and selection of the right products and systems, the quality of your home’s construction will also affect the performance of the building. Testing systems during construction will ensure they perform to the standards they were designed to, and prevent them from becoming an obstacle to achieving objectives.
7. Use your home intelligently
How you live in your house will also play an important role in achieving objectives and keeping energy usage at estimated levels. An energy-efficient home can still waste energy if the occupants don’t pay attention to the energy they use. Simple actions will have big impacts in the long run, for example:
- turning off appliances at the wall
- turning heated towel rails off during the day
- turning heat pumps or gas fires on only when you are in the room
- choosing to dry your clothes outside instead of using a dryer.