When it’s time to undertake a build or renovation project it’s rarely a simple task. It is however the perfect time to apply some simple strategies to help make your home perform better in terms of cost efficiency and comfort.
There are some basic things to consider that can make a significant difference. First, if you can, placing and taking advantage of north facing windows, and installing some protection the west facing windows. This is where you can loose or gain up to 35% of your home’s internal temperature. In southern States double glazing is very effective, especially if combined with specialised coatings that are appropriate for that area. The more thermally efficient the glass areas and seals are, the more comfortable and energy efficient the home will be. Northern States would benefit from efficient E coated glass in the appropriate situation and the more ‘tropical’ it gets the more natural ventilation you’ll need.
In cooler climates, large areas of glass to the North and West give you the opportunity to catch winter sun and keep your rooms warm during winter months without having to run the heating. However in summer the last thing you’ll want is the sun coming in. Options include planting deciduous trees on those sides to shade the glass in summer. Alternatively there are many types and styles of retractable blinds, awnings and shade devices available. Find the one that suits your situation and use that. You’ll be surprised at the difference it will make letting the sun in during winter, and keeping walls and windows shaded in summer. This simple strategy can help reduce your homes heating and cooling costs by up to 40%.
If you are building new external walls, or opening up old ones insulate them to at least R2 levels. It minimises cost to do this during other building work. Retrofitting insulation can be expensive if you do it later. If you come across any hot water pipes during the building works, insulate them also, it will help to minimise hot water losses in the pipework.
Regarding the roof, if you haven’t already insulated it, then do so to at least R3.5 levels. But mind the lights! Light fittings that minimise ‘holes’ in the ceiling plaster are best, for example a pendant light. If you have down-lights beware, the standard 50 Watt down-light whilst very popular, is a huge fire risk as the area surrounding the light can get up to 300 degrees Celsius. They’ve been banned due to their fire risk. There is currently a legal requirement to have insulation 200mm away from them. So if you must have down lights choose LED down lights and place them appropriately in the room.
When looking at heating and cooling systems there are many highly efficient reverse cycle ‘inverter’ type units available these days. Look for the ones with the most ‘stars’ on their energy rating. If you someone who likes the detail, look at the ‘input’ and ‘output’ kW ratings (on the energy label) and select a unit with a high ‘Co-efficient of Performance’ (COP) value. Minimum should be around 4.5 to 1 (which means for every 1 kW of energy in, you get 4.5 kW of energy out). You can work it out easily by dividing the input kW into the output kW value.
If you think you’d like to discuss your project, Green Moves will be at Design Build in Melbourne and would be happy to chat with you there. We can assist with anything from new builds, renovations and simply helping to make buildings more efficient. Green Moves are totally independent so you know you’ll get the right advice for your project without being sold something. Find out more by visiting us at Design Build or see the website at www.greenmoves.com.au.
Content provided by Danielle King, Green Moves Australia