Posted on 21/07/2017

Building a new energy-wise home

Building a new energy-wise home

If you are building a new home, then you are well aware of the myriad decisions that need to be made during the process. Floorplans, benchtops, paint colours, tiles… the list is endless.

While choosing all of these important things, it can be easy to forget some of the ‘basics’ of design which can actually help you save money in the long run.

Thanks to Synergy, here’s a list of things you can consider if you want your home to take full advantage of energy savings that clever design can offer:

  • When building choose a north facing block - this means a block that is longest in an east-west direction as it maximises heating and cooling efficiencies. Ideally it should not be shaded by tall trees or buildings to the north so you can take full advantage the winter sun.
  • Go large with the windows on the northern side - north facing windows will give you the most natural light and will help warm your house in winter. If possible, make your north wall about 1/3 to 1/2 glass. This way, winter sun will be able to enter and naturally warm your home but can easily be protected from summer sun by eaves, deciduous plants or pergolas.
  • Go smaller on the south - south facing windows get virtually no direct sun all year, but can cause major heat loss during winter. Don't make them too big – small enough to limit heat transfer in winter but big enough to allow cross-breezes in summer.
  • Go even smaller on the east and west - in winter, east facing windows don’t receive enough sun to provide warmth yet they let valuable heat out. In summer, they can cause the house to heat quickly as they receive morning sun and are difficult to shade effectively. West receive full, hot afternoon sun and are very hard to shade. If needed for views, position them under a veranda or carport and apply vertical screens. Trees on the west side should be tall varieties that will shade the home but still allow westerly breezes underneath.
  • Use eaves to shade your home - having decent sized eaves will shade your windows and external walls, keeping your house cooler in summer.
  • Plan where you plant - strategically placed trees and shrubs not only look great but can shade your home in summer and welcome the sun in to your home in winter when they drop their leaves. On the north side, use deciduous trees and avoid planting evergreen trees that will block winter sun. Trees and shrubs are great for minimising heat gain through east and west walls in the summer. Tall evergreen trees on the west side offer shade from the hot afternoon sun and still allow cool sea breezes to flow underneath.
  • Add more character with a verandah or pergola - adding a pergola with slats at the correct angle can let in the low winter sun while providing shade in summer. Removable shade cloth, or deciduous vines over a pergola, can achieve a similar effect. If space is a problem, vines grown on latticework are great too (and look good)!
  • Position your living areas on the north side - as much as possible, choose a plan that has your living areas facing north and your bedrooms facing south. In winter, your living rooms catch maximum sun for warmth and light, while in the heat of summer your bedrooms are shielded from the sun for cooler sleeping conditions.