With most countries now setting renewable energy targets to reduce our carbon footprint, there is a real push in the home building industry, to provide sustainable solutions. The concept of sustainability focuses on maintaining the balance between the environment and our natural resources, to ensure there is a liveable world for our future generations.
So what does building a sustainable home really mean?
Building a sustainable home involves creating a home that will make efficient use of resources, while reducing the negative impact on the environment. Sustainable homes are built to last for several decades and adapt to changing living and environmental conditions, for generations to come. The aim is to reduce waste and energy use, associated with daily living.
We look at some of the top ways you can start designing your home, with sustainability in mind.
Passive design is all about using the existing environment to your advantage. Taking into account the existing climate and environment of your block, can make all the difference. Start with the orientation of your home. In Perth, the sea breeze is a huge factor in summer, so you want to make sure you position your windows and home, to take advantage of the afternoon cool breeze, coming from the west.
Also, making use of the sunlight, at optimal times of the day. There are well known passive solar heating designs, which orientate your house, to maximise sunlight for keeping the home warm in winter. Also consider installing solar panels, to make full use of the all year-round sunshine in Perth.
Your windows are one of your biggest assets, and liabilities, when it comes to passive design. You want to have large windows to let in natural light and save on energy costs, but these can also significantly increase the temperature inside. Installing solar window film can reduce solar energy heat and UV rays from passing through the window, keeping your house cool and protecting furnishings from sun damage. This makes investing in a quality, dual benefit window film, a cost-effective way to lower energy costs associated with heating and cooling the home.
Opting for locally sourced building materials, will reduce transport costs. Local timber and other materials are also naturally grown to withstand the Perth climate. Choose recycled or non-toxic building materials wherever possible, and make sure your design is going to cater to future needs, to avoid additional extensions and rebuilds.
You may have heard of the term ‘building envelope’. This is how well the roof, floors and walls help to isolate the interior of the building, form the outside elements. The tighter the building envelope, the better you can control the temperature inside of the home. Having a well-insulated home is the best way to keep this envelope enclosed, ensuring you keep the heat outside, or inside, of the home, as desired.
Don’t forget to insulate your windows too! In winter, a single pane window loses 20 time as much heat as the same area in an adjacent well-insulated wall. Up to 40% of heat loss in buildings occurs through windows. An insulating window film can help improve the insulation value of a typical single glazed window, reducing heat loss in winter (and heat gain in summer). Adding an insulated film to your windows will help improve the insulation value of a typical single glazed window close to that of a double glazed window.
There are a variety of energy saving tips you can employ, with a popular choice in Perth being solar energy. We have sunshine all year round, so why not leverage this to your advantage? With more energy providers entering the marketplace, you can also make ethical choices about your provider, and opt for those who are using renewable energy generation, and decreasing the use of fossil fuels, such as coal. Installing LED light bulbs will also save on energy use.
Perth water supplies are at record lows, due to our long dry summers, and limited winter rains. Limiting showers and washing can help reduce your water use. When building a home, you should install waterwise shower heads and other appliances, a garden bore and greywater system. Also consider a rainwater tank, which could be plumbed into the home to wash clothes and use for toilets.
Opting for a Waterwise Garden is also recommended, so you can limit the amount of watering required to keep your gardens healthy. Native plants and limited lawns are best.
The appliances you choose, can have a huge impact on the energy use in your home. Look at an installing a reverse cycle air conditioner, which uses a lot less water than the evaporative systems. In the kitchen, your fridge and oven are the biggest energy consumers, so do your research and check the energy ratings on all appliances, to opt for the most energy efficient.
There are lots of things you can incorporate into your build, to help reduce household waste. Building a food compost for kitchen waste is a great way to cut down on what ends up and landfill, and all the associated waste removal costs. Designing your kitchen to minimise food wastage and encourage recycling is also encouraged, such as dedicated recycling zones and efficient food storage, to reduce wastage.
Building a sustainable home is the best option, not only for your budget, but also for our future generations. For tips on how to make your home more energy efficient, speak to one of our solar window film experts at Complete Film Solutions.