Simple Ways To Gauge A Home's Energy Efficiency When Home Design Shopping
Commodore Homes shares tips to figure out if a home is energy efficient before you build. Keep these features in mind when home design shopping if efficiency is important to you.
Newer constructions have better efficiency ratings than older homes, but there are some older designs that have been updated to be more efficient. This all begs the question, "Is there a way to gauge a home's energy efficiency before you buy it?" The answer is 'Yes', and we're here to tell you how to do it.
Three Factors That Influence A Building's Energy Efficiency
There are three things you take a look at when house shopping that will give you some idea of the unit's consumption patterns.
Orientation And Design. The way the building is situated on the block impacts its heating and cooling needs. Good orientation will make a house cheaper to run, and more comfortable year-round because it reduces the need for supplementary heating and cooling. You'll run your systems less, resulting in fewer resources used and lower utility bills.
In hot climates like WA, the dwelling should exclude the sun and maximise cool breezes. In more temperate climates, you want to look for evidence of passive heating and cooling. Passive heating means the design uses the free heat provided by the sun to heat the interior. The most common way to do this is to allow sun in through windows and doors in winter and prevent it from entering the home in summer.
Evidence of passive heating and cooling includes: north-facing living areas and outdoor space, large overhangs or eaves on the north side of the building and brick walls. Brick walls prevent the sun's heat from entering the building in the summer and reflect interior heat back into the home in winter, rather than letting it escape to the outside.
Landscaping. Landscaping can impact energy usage too. Shade from mature trees can help keep a building cooler in summer. Deciduous trees on the north side will block sun in summer, but let sunlight into the home in winter. Shrubs and vines near the foundation have the same effect. Similarly, trees planted on the west and east sides of the unit can act as windbreaks and protect the house from cold winter winds.
Look for: Deciduous trees, shrubs, or vines on the north side of the home; tall, bushy trees and shrubs on the east and west sides of the house.
Age Of Appliances, HVAC Systems, And Windows And Doors. Check the ages of any electrical devices or appliances. The biggest energy users are refrigerators, furnaces, and air conditioners. Newer appliances and systems will be more efficient than older systems, but don't go on age alone. Some older, highly efficient components could still be less costly to operate than newer pieces that were among the lowest efficiencies of their time.
Look for: labels on appliances and HVAC systems. They should list the date of manufacture or installation and may even provide an energy consumption guide. Ask the seller how much monthly utilities cost and how old the appliances are. Most sellers who purchase efficient models are eager to share that knowledge with you, knowing that it increases the attractiveness of the home.
Use these tips to gauge an existing home's efficiency or when building your new home.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Commodore Homes has been designing innovative and inspiring homes for 20 years. The builder has many house and land packages in Perth, and the surrounding area for buyers at all levels. For more information contact them at 08 6555 7522.