An energy efficient house is one which uses energy or power efficiently. This can be achieve by specifying energy efficient appliances and lights to be used in your build or by generating & storing your own energy. When designing an energy efficient house it’s best to consider and implement a range of these design considerations which work together to create an energy efficient home. For example using efficient appliances and lights reduces the amount of energy generation and storage needed. Likewise a passive design can reduce energy requirements for heating and cooling (check out my post on Passive House Design to learn more about designing a passive home).
Energy Efficient Appliances
Appliances such as fridges, freezers, dryers, washing machines and dishwashers can make up a large percentage of a homes energy use. Choosing high efficiency rated appliances will help to reduce your homes energy requirements. The governments rating system makes it easy to choose the right appliances for your energy efficient home. Check out www.energyrating.gov.au for more information on energy ratings for appliances.
Energy Efficient Lighting
Specifying energy efficient lights for your new house can make a considerable difference to your energy needs. LED downlights which are very energy efficient have come down in price in recent years and are now a very cost effective and commonly used option. Other feature lights are also available with LED globes allowing you to use LED’s for most situations.
In addition to using energy efficient artificial lighting it’s also important to ensure your design includes adequate natural lighting. The National Construction Codes (NCC) require that natural lighting is provided to all habitable rooms which are used for extended periods. This includes living areas and bedrooms but does not include utility rooms such as bathrooms, laundries, pantries, storage rooms or garages. Providing utility rooms with natural lighting can reduce artificial lighting use. In bathrooms and laundries a window which provides natural light can also provide natural ventilation making windows in these rooms desirable for most people.
When designing an energy efficient house I recommend considering how you use your utility rooms. If they’re used regularly during the day time it may be worth adding a window for natural light and ventilation.
Energy Generation & Storage
Generating your own renewable power, most commonly with a solar PV (Photovoltaic) system provides energy that you can use in your home and feed back to the grid when not needed. The cost of solar PV systems is becoming more and more affordable. Government rebates may also be available which help to make a solar PV system an even more viable option.
Before deciding to install a Solar PV system it important to find out what your rebates are and what your feed in tariff is. A feed in tariff is the money you get back or deducted from your power bill for feeding power back to the grid. This is generally less than the cost to use power from the grid. If you feed in tariff is very low it might be worth considering using energy storage with your Solar PV system. Storing energy you generate during the day to use at night instead of feeding it back into the grid can make a big difference to the energy savings of your Solar PV system.