When you’re building a new home, you have the perfect opportunity to create a home that’s energy efficient. But what does that actually mean and how can you achieve it?
An energy efficient home is able to maintain an optimum internal temperature with minimal use of artificial heating and cooling.
Ideally, this means that the house is comfortable in both summer and winter, without relying heavily on heaters or air conditioners.
What is a Star-Rating?
The Star-Rating system is used to measure the energy efficiency of all new buildings in Australia. The system has a scale of 0-10, with 0 being the worst and 10 the best.
So a home that rates 10 would require no artificial heating or cooling at all, while a 0-rated building would need it almost constantly.
To obtain approval to construct a new home in Australia, a minimum energy rating must be achieved, and for most areas the requirement is a 6 Star-Rating.
Improving Your Star-Rating
These days, most new homes are designed and constructed to meet the minimum 6 Star-Rating.
But if you put some extra thought into the design phase, you can easily achieve a higher rating. Here’s a few things to consider:
1. Design Features: The orientation of your house has an impact – so be sure that the rooms you frequent, like living areas, are facing north if possible.
Think about the number of windows too, as the more you have, the more places you’ll be losing heat and cold.
And make sure the placement and design of your windows allows you to take advantage of cross breezes and natural ventilation too.
2. Insulation: Investing in insulation is a sure-fire way to keep your home cool in summer and warm in winter. Install it in the ceiling, walls and floors and it will keep the temperature comfortable, plus, it will save you money on your energy bills.
3. Windows: Inefficient windows will let in both the heat and cold, so consider double glazing. Also make sure the window coverings are sufficient.
Good curtains or blinds will stop the heat and cool escaping out, which means your air conditioners and heaters won’t be working overtime.
4. Draughts: Having gaps around windows and under doors means you’ll lose hot and cold air, which means your appliances will be working hard to replace it. Make the effort to block any draughts, as it will reduce your bills and save energy.
5. Energy Consultant: For personal, specialised advice, you can’t go past an Energy Rating Consultant. They’ll go over your plans, assess your site and make recommendations to get the maximum rating possible.
And Don’t Forget…
Although not technically a factor in deciding on your homes’ Star-Rating, energy-efficient appliances will make a big difference to your environmental footprint and the amount you pay every year in energy bills.
Your hot water system uses a lot of energy, so make sure it’s working well – and if you can afford it, a solar hot water system is a great investment.
Water saving plumbing fittings are also great, and having a water tank is a big plus.
Off the grid power systems are the icing on the cake and they’ll pay themselves off so are definitely worth the investment.
With a little planning early on, you can build a home that is energy efficient, has a reduced environmental impact and saves you money in the long run. A win-win!
If you have any more ideas to make homes more energy efficient, we’d love to hear them!