When you build a brand new house, it's important to think about what you can do to future-proof it. Failing to prepare your house for a greener future could result in spending more money than you need to, because you’ll be consuming more power than necessary and may have to buy the upgrades later.
This can be a stressful process, but if you're hoping for many good years in your new home, consider making your house energy efficient. Power-conscious choices — even if they’re not the luxurious amenities you might be keen to install right away — will make living at home much easier on your pocket, now and in the future..
Here are 10 tips for making your new build energy efficient and ready to face the future.
Install energy efficient appliances
Whether it’s a refrigerator, stove, washing machine or dryer, you’ll save more money and draw less power with ‘green’ appliances.
Before purchasing, look at the EECA Energywise website to understand energy rating labels and to calculate your power costs and savings. Also consider limiting or avoiding appliance usage when you can. For example, by drying clothes on a clothesline or hand-washing dishes, you can lower your power usage.
Use thermal mass to your advantage
Try to build with dense materials that absorb and release heat well. Good thermal mass materials include ceramic tile, concrete, stone and brick. Using more of these can mean better temperature control and lower bills.
Use LED light bulbs
LED bulbs are up to 5x more efficient than halogen and incandescent bulbs. LEDs are also more eco-friendly and practical than Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs), which don’t last very long with constant usage.
Install a solar energy system
Using solar energy is a great way to make your home energy efficient for the long haul. A solar photovoltaic (PV) panel system takes sunlight and converts it into usable electricity for all your power needs.
Planning for solar in the early stages of your new build goes a long way towards a future-proofed home. It can greatly reduce your home’s environmental impact while saving you money on electricity from the first day.
Save water wherever you can
For gardening applications and your bathroom’s shower and toilet, look into rainwater tanks and greywater systems. For heating, you might consider a solar hot water system to further benefit from the sun’s free energy.
Build with an energy-saving layout and orientation
Consider avoiding an open floor plan. Large, undefined spaces are costlier and more difficult to heat evenly. Walled-off or enclosed areas can be heated with less power waste.
Additionally, try to make sure your main living spaces have a northward-facing orientation, for the best exposure to the sun’s warmth. A north-facing house also makes for a more efficient rooftop solar setup.
Use better insulation
It may be worth paying extra for the highest-quality insulation you can get. When it comes to retaining heat in the winter and staying cool in the summer, a better grade of insulation will be more effective and yield better savings.
Position windows and doors for the best ventilation
Air should flow out of your home almost as easily as it comes in. Ensure your doors and windows are placed in the right spots for optimal ventilation. Also look into double-glazed windows, which are great at keeping heat indoors.
Put in a skylight
Skylights can fill your space with natural light, which can help reduce your dependence on electric lighting. Be strategic with your placement - a skylight can bring extra heat inside the home. Because, while that's appreciated in the winter, it's not so comfortable in the summer!
Do some energy-smart landscaping
Thoughtful landscaping can save a great deal of power. You can lower water usage by selecting plants that naturally require less of it. Also, plants that provide shade can bring lots of relief from summer heat reducing the need for air conditioning.
Energy efficiency is more than achievable when building a brand new home. By consciously using less power and installing more insulation, among the other ideas above, you’ll create an economical, eco-friendly lifestyle to go with your new build. You’ll also reduce reliance on the electricity grid, which will save you lots of money from the moment you move in, and over time.