The homes being built today are all about saving energy and being energy efficient, and this imperative is changing building designs and the way interiors are being fitted out and decorated.
The new design
There are several ways that energy efficiency can actually be part of the overall building design. The most striking change to conventional design is the shape of new energy efficient buildings, which utilize sloping roofs fitted with solar panels, and making the most of sunshine by orienting buildings to a specific compass location, such as making the home south facing. Internally, homes can be fitted with insulation, high-performance window glazing and air-sealed construction. The last element of purpose-built energy efficient homes is controlled ventilation.
Why should we care?
We should be pleased by this new trend for energy efficient building because it will not only help the planet on which we live, but will have a long-term effect on the money coming out of our pockets. Homes that store and use energy in a more efficient manner will ultimately mean that fuel bills will be less expensive, meaning we can spend our hard-earned money on other things.
Old home, new methods
Of course, not all of us are fortunate enough to be able to build our new home from scratch, but will instead have to find innovative ways to make the homes we do live in more energy efficient. This can be achieved in several ways.
High cost changes that will yield long-term cost savings include the installation of solar panels on the roof. These capture the energy from the sun and store it for use in the running of the home. These involve a hefty initial outlay, probably costing several thousand dollars, but it is estimated that they will have paid for themselves after five years.
Another major renovation would be to lay insulation in key areas in the home. These key areas are primarily the attic space and the basement area; the insulation will help to retain heat in the home. Existing windows, which may only be single glazed and have broken seals or are simply ill fitting, can be replaced with double or even triple glazing.
Less expensive and easy
Lower-cost solutions that can be implemented immediately include the installation of window shutters. Used as an alternative to curtains or blinds, window shutters form a tight seal around window frames, helping to keep warmth inside the room rather than it leaking out through cracks. In the summer months they also allow more efficient ventilation and light regulation.
A great deal of heat can be lost through hard floors and brick or stone walls. Lay rugs on wooden floors to retain heat and also to soften sound, and place seating away from the room’s walls so that the chill outside air does not bleed through into the furniture. For drafty rooms, consider placing a draft excluder at the bottom of doors.
There are many advantages to making the home more energy efficient; these suggestions are aimed specifically at reducing fuel bills to give us more disposable income, but with the added benefit of knowing that we are doing what we can to reduce our dependence on natural resources.