It makes good sense to ensure that your home is energy efficient. In addition to making your home more pleasant to live in, a properly designed home is cheaper to heat and cool, and is kinder to the environment. Listed below are some tips and factors to consider to ensure your home is energy efficient:
- Are there any main window areas on north and east facing walls?
- Do all windows open?
- Are south-facing windows sized and placed to allow cross ventilation in summer?
- TIP: Keep in mind that curtains with pelmets will minimise heat loss in winter.
- Do you have any windows in west facing walls?
- TIP: If west-facing windows are essential (for view, ventilation or day light) and cannot be protected, consider double-glazing windows, installing curtains, venetian blinds or using solar window film.
- Has your home been designed to allow cool prevailing summer breezes to pass through it relatively unobstructed?
- TIP: If one or more rooms are unlikely to receive through breezes, install ceiling fans.
- Have your walls and ceilings been properly insulated?
- TIP: Install insulation above the ceiling (or, in tropical areas, directly under the roof). Large, sun-exposed west walls should be insulated with reflective foil or bulk insulation. If winter heating is a major concern, all walls should be insulated.
When deciding where to place rooms in your home, your main goal should be to maximise the amount of sunshine available to assist with warming the house. This should be balanced with appropriate window shading and ventilation to keep you cool in summer.
Some tips for making the most of available sunlight include:
- Place living areas, such as the family room, kitchen, lounge and dining room on the northern side of your home. If there is insufficient space for all of them, at least place day living areas to the north.
- Bedrooms can be located on the southern or eastern sides, although bedrooms used for play or study may be located on the northern side.
- Service areas (e.g. bathroom, laundry, garage) are usually located on southern or western side, as they have minimal thermal comfort or heating/cooling requirements.
- Group together rooms that use hot water (kitchen, bathroom, laundry) to minimise heat loss in pipes.
- Create zones by grouping rooms with similar uses together, separated by doorways.
- Avoid open plan living areas or high ceilings as these can lead to high heating costs. Maximum ceiling height should be 2.7 metres.
- Circulation zones (e.g. entry, corridors, halls) have minimum thermal comfort requirements and will not generally benefit from improved sunlight, but can impact on other zones if they are open between those zones.