4 Key Design Elements of an Energy-Efficient Home
An energy-efficient house plan can help significantly reduce dependence on artificial heating and cooling. Many people often have the impression that relying on Energy Star ratings for HVAC and other appliances is sufficient to consider a house as energy efficient, it is the design of the house which has a more significant impact on efficiency. In addition to design elements that help reduce energy consumption, homeowners also need to consider alternative energy sources that are available in their area.
If you are looking for a house plan that supports an energy-efficient model, the architect needs to consider individual factors according to the region. To determine if a house is truly energy efficient, the following four key elements should be present.
1. Controlled ventilation
In some areas of the country, natural ventilation can help reduce the need for artificial heating and cooling. Windows need to be placed in optimum locations to allow consistent air circulation. Some house designs feature windows close to the ceiling which can be opened or closed using window controls. Tall windows and wall openings can be great additions for improving house ventilation. For convenience, manual window controls can be used to manage these openings and can become an excellent architectural feature.
2. Building orientation and shape
The orientation of the building, as well as the shape of the floor plan, will have an impact on its energy efficiency. If you live in a colder climate, rectangular floor plans catch the most about of sun from the east and west. An architect can help choose and design the proper orientation which can maximise the energy efficiency of a house.
In addition to catching the maximum amount of heat during the cold season, the orientation should also be balanced to prevent the potential hazard of increasing the solar cooling load. In the same manner, houses built in warmer climate needs to have fewer east and west windows to reduce the amount of heat coming from daylight.
3. Choosing the right HVAC system
The size of the HVAC system is crucial to its performance. Calculating the heating and cooling requirements of the house is an essential first step to determine the right HVAC capacity. Supporting elements such as the ductwork should also be well-designed for optimum efficiency.
Although investing in a high-efficiency HVAC system costs more, the savings you will get in paying less for utility bills will more than make up for the initial investment.
4. Construction details
By carefully considering the crucial aspects of construction, you can further add to the energy efficiency of the house. Insulation is another design element that needs to be given importance during the planning stages. For dwellings in a warmer climate, covering porches and adding overhangs over windows can provide shade while still allowing natural light to enter.
There are also a lot of green building materials available in the market today which can help reduce energy consumption and reinforce sustainability. Other construction materials such as double-glazed windows and doors can assist in maximising insulation to reduce energy loss and keep the interior warmer or cooler relative to the outdoor climate.