When couples and families start to get involved in home design, they often choose features that appeal to them. They may have seen them on other homes or in magazines, and immediately know it’s what’s going to work best for them.
However, sometimes, home design is about more than looks – but about saving money and the environment at the same time. Contrary to popular belief as well, an eco-friendly home doesn’t have to look like a shack or log cabin in the forest. It can be a contemporary, beautiful, and stylish property in a suburb or city. It’s all about who you choose for home design, and what your goals for your new dream house will be.
If you would love to lower costs and reduce your global footprint at the same time, then read on. The following steps in home design could be game changers.
A walk-through a property built a number of decades ago will show some glaring problems. Often, many of the communal areas are cold and dark, and not positioned well for the sun. Home design is about more than internal layout and creating enough space for everyone. It’s about ensuring the home’s orientation on the site is going to capture enough sun and light. The building orientation can save you a fortune on heating and lighting bills over the home’s lifetime.
On a clear winter’s day in New Zealand, the sun sends approximately 500 watts of heat through unshaded north-facing windows. That’s free power to the communal area of your home such as an open plan living, dining, and kitchen space. If your home design was topsy-turvy, you’d end up with an exceptionally sun-drenched toilet, and a dark and gloomy lounge.
For power savings and warmth, a home design should incorporate heat-trapping insulation, sun orientation, thermal mass, generous windows, and well-thought-out overhangs.
The average power bill of any given household can vary. It can often depend on the appliances, country, and even the home’s orientation. What if you could keep your money in your pocket instead of giving it to utility companies? That’s the reality when you incorporate solar panels into your home’s design.
Solar panels harness the sun’s free energy. You also cause less damage to the environment by not using traditional power sources, and you help the economy by eliminating your need for fossil fuels. The technology for solar panels is also improving by the day. Once you pay off your panels, your self-sufficiency and home desirability will show in your property value.
Heating & Heat Retention
During the home design process, heating and heat retention should be near the top regarding importance. Not only do you get to remain warm and comfortable year-round, but you benefit from lower heating bills too.
When you use home design experts who know what they’re doing, their layout contributes to your warmth as well as any heating system. However, you may also like to look at energy-efficient heating systems such as central heating, heat pumps, pellet fires, and log burners. Weigh up the pros and cons of each to see which will be more convenient for your family’s needs.
With heat retention, the goal is to do more than the bare minimum your housing code requires – especially with insulation. Install insulation in ceilings, walls, and under the floor. The insulation should also have no gaps or folds, with a layer between garaging and around concrete flooring as well.
Double glazing with insulated frames and low-E glass, external entrance airlocks, and building airtightness all contribute to heat retention as well. However, something as thoughtful as minimizing plumbing and electricity in external wall cavities can mean your insulation is snug, and the cold air stays out.
Hot Water Systems
Saving the environment and money can be a balancing act – especially when it comes to hot water systems. Installation costs for an energy-efficient hot water system might be higher, but it pays for itself with smaller bills and your eco-friendly conscience.
If you are going to go down the environmentally-friendly path with home design, you might like to consider sun-heated hot water systems, wood-burning wetback systems, or 80 percent renewable energy electric systems. If you prefer gas for instant heat, you may find that it causes more greenhouse gas emissions than other forms of water heating on the market.
Hot water systems, electricity types, heating, and your building’s orientation can all contribute to the clever home design. If you’re ready to start the home design process, with your wallet and the environment in mind, then get in touch with experts. You may find that many architectural experts know how to design houses to make the most of their natural surroundings in the best way possible.
My name is Alison Hefer, I am originally from Cape Town, South Africa but I have spent the last few years in beautiful New Zealand. I write articles for various websites including Designbuilders.co.nz and regularly contribute articles about the always changing world of SEO to Clickthrough.co.nz. I am a busy blogger/mom by day and an avid writer by night. My career goal is to one day write a novel of my own. Connect with me via email at [email protected].