Designing a home isn’t just about the aesthetics and convenience. While people will still prefer their dream home, they are also equally concerned with savings in electric and water bills, and how they can apply their environment-friendly advocacies. Now more than ever, energy efficiency is integrated even from the earliest blueprints to the actual construction. Even our laws have been changed for decades requiring home builders and owners to abide by standards or building codes which include energy efficiency. Even manufacturers of building materials and appliances have implemented sustainability processes and standards to lower energy use while prolonging the useful life.
Sustainability at home also means cost savings and comfort. With four seasons offering different temperature in a year, a house needs to be equipped with both cooling and heating appliances. The more you use them means escalating electric bills and emitting more greenhouse gases. This is a double-edged sword which results to more cash outflows and a hotter Planet Earth. With energy-efficient homes, these won’t be existing. And you’ll be at the comfort of your home reclining on your recycled furniture, and contributing to the green movement.
If you’re planning in buying or building a new haven, or wanting to upgrade, here are useful designs and features you can include to achieve sustainability.
It’s not the hippie “cool” word but the word related to temperature. You may have not thought about it but roofs can greatly affect your electric consumption. How your roofs absorb heat will influence your room temperature. If it’s accepting much heat, you’ll feel the discomfort around your house. Otherwise, you’ll be needing less air conditioning than you should be. And the cost for comfort will be minimized to the lowest.
So, what makes a roof cool? It is the one that reflects sunlight back and absorbs less heat. Color is one factor. Light ones are good in solar reflectance than the dark hues. Currently though, technology is making it possible for dark colors to do the same. Another factor is the raw materials. Asphalt, composite and metal materials are slouch in making your roofs cool.
Other than reflecting the light back, cool roofs provide equally important benefits. For one, they reduce cooling costs. Although they may not do the same with heating bills, lower cooling expenses will still get you net savings. Another boon is longevity. Cool roofs last longer than traditional roof products. Installing these might be expensive but the long-term benefits outweigh the initial disbursement. When crafting that cool design, ensure you don’t just get the fancy one but the right one. Do not worry about the sultry sun because you’ll definitely experience cold summer nights and days.
Home and office buildings can be more enclosed than have open spaces for daylight to come in. Good thing modern designs are giving attention to natural lighting not just to add aesthetics but also to diminish energy consumption. Skyscrapers , malls and other buildings have making of daylighting to slash thousand dollars in energy bills.
While reducing the use of artificial light is the primary benefit, there are other boons you can gain. Lowering HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) costs is one. Artificial light produces more heat which leads your to resort to increased ventilation and air conditioning to get that comfort. While natural light can be hot, especially in the afternoon, good architecture can help design effective light openings, capitalize on maximum use of energy resources and avoid excessive glare. Another gain but is so surprising is the health benefits. Natural lighting provides the visual stimulation relevant to circadian rhythms which also helps increase productivity.
Building a house can contribute to waste materials and surplus supplies after construction has been completed. This is the sad part of home and building constructions, resulting to wasted money and additional garbage. If before this can’t be helped, good thing now technology and building techniques make it possible to eliminate or minimize to the least quantity any waste from construction.
Today, several builders implement advanced house framing or optimum value engineering. The goal is to structure homes minus waste material. Also, this helps increase insulation inside the walls with lesser lumber used. Builders optimize engineered wood that are more reliable and long-lasting than traditional materials. The concept saves costs on materials, labor, heating and cooling.
If you’re familiar with prefab homes, then you’d not be surprised with advanced framing. These homes, also called modular homes, are engineered in modules to accurately estimate materials to be consumed during the whole production. Apart from reducing waste, builders are optimizing recycled materials to create environmentally sound homes.
Lighting is not just the one natural element you can integrate in home design. Ventilation can be too! You’re not just going to experience improved air quality but also take advantage of cost efficiency. Just like lighting, home design for natural ventilation relies heavily on the type of climate your house is located and the orientation of the windows to the wind. And it’s more than just opening your windows.
Home design should be intentionally created to achieve better airflow and indoor air quality. Landscaping for one can either help or block the wind to enter your home. A windbreak like hedges or fence can affect a wind’s direction so do trees and bushes. Also, partitions inside the house can block the airpath. It is best to ask your builder and designer on how you can integrate natural ventilation.
Sustainability does not rely on design and natural resources alone. Half of it comes from the equipment you use daily – from the television switched on and off to the dryer twisting your clothes to dehydration. If your lights consume more energy, why not switch for LED? How about the toilets, sinks and showers? You bet they’re giving more water and money out of your home and wallet. Technology has solved this headache and produced low-flow equipment you can conveniently buy online. The fridge, aircon, iron and other appliances daily plugged in can also be a source of high energy bills. Good thing we have inverter technology to reduce consumption, carbon footprint and electric payables.
Our planet has changed. Hurricanes are more violent. Sea level is rising every tick of the clock. The sun is sicker to the skin than before. We can’t just let these things to continue and employ band-aid defenses to protect ourselves. Starting at home, you can make a big difference by buying or building an energy-efficient cocoon. The one that saves you on cost. The one that helps the Earth recover from the pains of the past and present. The one that will give our future generation a livable home.