Orientation and layout
The most important aspect of energy–efficient design is the orientation of the home. The home ideally should be oriented so the living areas are facing north to take advantage of the winter sun, with eaves to shade out the summer sun. Bedrooms should be located on the southern side of the home to keep sleeping areas cool, and infrequently used rooms (such as the garage and laundry) are best located on the western side which is exposed to heat in the afternoon.
Ceiling and wall insulation is the single most effective item you can add to your home to improve its energy efficiency. Insulation helps to:
* increase comfort levels by keeping your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer
* reduce the amount of energy required to heat and cool your home, which saves you money on your
* heating and cooling bills and reduces the home’s greenhouse gas emission.
The effectiveness of insulation is rated using the thermal resistance value, or R–value. The higher the R–value, the more effective the product is at reducing heat flow into or out of a home. The thermal resistance value of insulation of your home's constructions will depend on location of your home.
Depending on the home’s design, insulation may trap heat in summer. Homes should be evaluated by a professional insulation installer to ensure:
* windows are adequately shaded
* high windows and skylight vents are able to open
* roof vents are operating.
Shop around and source quotes from reputable suppliers before making a decision regarding insulation.
When choosing insulation, consider using a product that reduces noise. This will help to block out traffic noise, neighborhood noise and noise transmission between rooms.
Consider using lighter colored materials and paints for the roof and exterior walls, as a dark exterior will increase the temperature in the home and decrease the usefulness of your insulation.More info at SOLAR SERDAR.
Heating and cooling
High ceilings provide for improved ventilation and the safe use of ceiling fans. Fans are a more energy–efficient form of cooling than air conditioners – the average air conditioner uses more energy than 12 ceiling fans. Before installing air conditioning, consider:
* have living areas been located near usable outdoor areas to enlarge useful space and encourage breezes?
* is there an opportunity to ventilate the home using breeze ways above doors and in door panels?
* is the home fitted with ceiling fans?
Wood-burning heaters and fireplaces cause indoor and outdoor air pollution and can attract fines if they cause a neighborhood smoke or odor nuisance. Wood–burning heaters are not recommended. If you like the look of wood heaters, consider a gas imitation heater or fireplace.
* If you have decided to install an air conditioning system, is it an energy-efficient model such as a reverse–cycle inverter system that can be used for winter heating?
* Is the air conditioning unit located away from neighbors to avoid causing a neighborhood noise nuisance?
* Is the thermostat set to ideal summer temperatures of between 25°C and 27°C and winter thermostat temperatures of 18°C to 20°C? For each extra degree of heating or cooling, energy consumption increases by about 5% to 10%.More info at SOLAR SERDAR.
Cross ventilation and roof ventilation
Allowing breezes to flow through your house is also an important way of keeping your home cool. Windows should be placed and designed to capture the prevailing breezes. Try to keep short, direct paths between windows. Choose windows with large open areas, such as louvres, casement, sliding or double-hung windows.
Roof ventilation is also important for allowing heat to escape from the roof in summer. Static or moving vents (eg. whirlybirds) can be installed for ventilation. If possible, roof vents should be closed in winter to stop the escape of heat from the roof space.
Windows and shading
The size and placement of windows is a very important consideration when designing your home. Windows can let in too much heat in summer and also allow significant heat loss in winter.
* North-facing windows can be large, but need to have wide eaves for shading in summer when the sun is higher in the sky.
* West-facing windows should be minimised to reduce summer heating.
* East-facing windows can provide early morning sun in winter, but can over heat the home in summer if not properly protected.
* South–facing windows receive no direct sun. Large south facing windows will allow heat loss in winter.
There are various options for improving insulation properties of windows.
* Shading with wide eaves or external shade fixtures is the most effective way to stop heat transfer through windows.
* Internal shade fixtures such as blinds or curtains are not as effective as external fixtures.
* Special glass types and window film treatments allow light to pass through the window but minimize the heat transfer. This may be more expensive than shading options, but may provide a good solution where external shading is not appropriate.
* Double-glazed windows (windows made with two sheets of glass with an air space between them) are a more expensive option for insulation, however they offer the best insulation properties.
Double–glazed windows have excellent noise reduction properties. Closed, double–glazed windows may improve the livability of any rooms that are exposed to excessive outdoor noise.
The energy efficiency of windows is rated using the Window Energy Rating Scheme (WERS). Under this scheme, the window’s cooling and heating performance is rated separately on a scale of 0 to 5 stars – the more stars, the better.