Energy efficient homes are an economical choice in the long term and can reduce or even eliminate problems with utility bills. Energy efficiency is important to consider when buying or building a house. Energy efficient homes are comfortable to live in, easy to maintain, and have lower carbon footprints. Be aware of the following features to consider:
· Energy Rating Label - Energy rating labels give information about the energy consumption of appliances, heating systems, lighting etc. Energy rating labels should be used by all homeowners so that they can compare various houses before making a decision on which one to buy. The Energy rating label compares everything from light bulbs to swimming pool pumps. They allow you to rank different products according to their energy efficiency and compare them instantly.
· Energy Efficient Appliances - Not all appliances are great in terms of energy efficiency, such as washers and dryers, dishwashers etc. But there are some which consume less energy than others, so doing a little research can go a long way towards saving you money on your utilities bill.
· Sun-Shading - Planting trees around the house helps shade it from the summer heat. This is particularly an advantage for houses with dark roofs, which absorb heat in summer and release it into the home. A tree can also provide protection from wind gusts, especially if planted near the windward side of a building where harsh winds are more likely to strike it. Plan to plant a number of trees so that they will shield the house from direct sunlight while allowing prevailing breezes through. The best planting distance between a tree and a neighboring house would be four times the height of the tree. Ensure that you plant high-performance trees, which are not only low in water requirements but have dense canopies so they provide effective shade.
· Natural Light - You must include ample natural light in your house with lots of windows and skylights to keep it bright and airy. Keep the glazing simple and plan for larger windows on the south-facing side of the building to avoid heat gain in summer while allowing sunlight to enter. It is also possible to make use of solar tubes for additional lighting during winter months when there is less sunshine.
· Pool Heating - Consider heating your pool with solar water panels to save money on what would otherwise be an expensive energy bill for pool heating. Make sure that these systems face north so they can get direct sunlight year round. Solar hot water systems should be installed where they will be able to collect the most sunlight.
· Heating and Cooling - If your house has a forced air system, consider installing ceiling fans because they are capable of cooling you down by up to 7°C for an energy cost of less than 10 cents per hour.
· Ventilation - A ventilation system should assist with removing moisture from bathrooms during showering or bathing so it can dry out quickly. It should improve comfort by maintaining comfortable humidity levels inside during winter months when there's less moisture in the air outdoors. When the humidity outside is high, ventilation should be able to extract excess moisture. The motor of your ventilation system could be located in an unconditioned space, such as a garage or under-house crawl space.
· Draft proofing - Make sure all cracks are filled and seal any holes around door frames, windowsills, utility pipes etc. Have weatherstripping added to sliding doors and make sure there are no gaps between walls or floor surfaces where cold air can enter your home.
· Heating Systems - For maximum energy efficiency choose a system that has an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating of 90% or more. Make sure your heating system is installed by a professional licensed contractor to avoid problems, such as improper installation or operation.
Energy efficiency is not just a buzzword. It's the future and we need to start taking it seriously now if we want our children and grandchildren to enjoy an inhabitable planet in the decades ahead. We've offered some tips on how you can be more energy efficient at home, but there are also many ways that businesses can reduce their carbon footprint as well by using renewable resources like solar power or opting for hybrid vehicles instead of gas-guzzling, polluting ones. Thanks for reading and together we can make a difference.