Energy efficient tips for designing, building or renovating your home

energy efficient

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Energy efficient for home

It’s worth taking the time to consider sustainable, energy efficient ways to help you create a home to suit the way you live and use energy. Considering how you design and build your house with sustainability and energy efficiency in mind could have a big impact on your energy bills, and the environment.

Designing and building a new home, or renovating an existing one, is an exciting time. It’s a great opportunity to factor in sustainable design principles and investing your time to get the design right from the start will help you create a home to suit the way you will live – and use energy – now and into the future.

Key considerations include how you’ll power your home, the structure and design of your home and the systems inside the home. 

Check out these energy efficient tips to see what we recommend you should consider when designing, building or renovating a home in WA.

Consider how you’ll power your home

The way Western Australians power their homes is evolving. With a desire to reduce home energy costs and people becoming more environmentally conscious, solar PV systems are more popular than ever. 

Energy efficient window furnishings

When it comes to the thermal performance of your home, window treatments are probably one of the most neglected and underrated part of the building process. Up to 40% of home heating and cooling energy can be lost via windows. Choosing window furnishings such as heavy block out weight curtains can help keep the warmth in during winter and help keep the heat out during the hottest part of the day in summer.  

Energy efficient house materials and colour

The colour and materials used to construct your home’s exterior could have an impact on its ability to reflect or absorb heat. Lighter colours tend to reflect light and accompanying heat, whereas darker colours tend to absorb it. 

The materials used on the exterior of your home can also have an impact on its thermal performance. For example, the brick used in double brick construction could be darker in colour but the density of two brick layers means that while radiant heat is absorbed, it’s released slowly into the home through the course of the day. Conversely, weatherboard has poor thermal qualities no matter the colour it’s painted. 

Zoning the living areas

When planning the layout of your home, consider the activities each room is used for, and whether you could group rooms with similar uses together to create zones. Consider locating living rooms, bathrooms and bedrooms close together which can facilitate more efficient heating and cooling.  

It could also be worthwhile making considerations for the time of day each room is typically used in your home. Locating bedrooms, typically used overnight, on the southern side of the home could keep them cooler and therefore more comfortable in summer. Living areas such as kitchen and dining spaces, which are typically occupied during the day, could be located on the northern side of the house. 

Don’t forget your outdoor living spaces

All around your house, decent sized eaves will shade your windows and external walls, keeping your house cooler in summer. Adding a pergola with slats at the right angle could let in the low winter sun and give you shade in summer. Removable shade cloth or deciduous vines over your pergola can also achieve a similar result.

If you put brick paving under north-facing windows, keep in mind this could reflect summer heat into your home. It’s may be worth putting the paving further away from the house and using water-wise groundcovers and small shrubs next to the windows as a cooler option.

Consider the systems in your home

Taking the time to consider energy efficient options for the systems in your home can have a big impact on how much energy you use. Being mindful of efficient options for heating and cooling, incorporating LED lighting or choosing efficient appliances when it’s time for a replacement or upgrade can all help you to manage your energy consumption.

Energy efficient heating and cooling

For the most energy efficient way to heat and cool in your home, look for options that have the highest energy star rating. Heating and cooling can account for a large part of your energy costs throughout the year, so a higher energy-efficiency rating means you’ll be likely to use less energy.

If you like the idea of ceiling fans to circulate air in your home, let your builder know so they can incorporate this into your electrical plans. You can also look for open areas in your home design which might be hard to keep cool or warm at different times of the year and adapt your home design in a simple way such as adding an extra door to trap the cool or warm air.

Energy efficient lighting

The number and type of lights you choose can have a big impact on your electricity use. You might like to:

Create a design to help you enjoy as much natural light as possible.

Choose the most energy efficient lighting to help you reduce your electricity use in the long-term.

Have dimmer switches installed in certain areas, such as bedrooms.

Energy efficient appliances

When it comes to appliances, becoming energy efficient doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re thinking of buying new appliances, always check the energy star rating; the cheapest option isn’t always a bargain if it costs more to run. The higher the star-rating, the less electricity it is likely to use in the long term. 

It’s one of the coolest appliances in your home, but your refrigerator is also likely to be one of the most energy hungry. Keep your fridge and freezer at an optimal temperature – between 3 and 5°C for fridges and around -18°C for your freezer – and don’t over or under fill it. 

Laundries, bathrooms and pools can use about 27% of your household energy use, mainly due to the energy it takes to heat water. Consider drying your clothes on a clothesline or clothes horse, rather than in the dryer. Running your pool pump on a timer could also help you reduce your electricity use. 

Computers, TVs and tech are a big part of our everyday lives, but they can also use a lot of electricity. Consider switching them off altogether if they’re not in use. 

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