Archive for the ‘Eco-Home’ Category
Building an eco-home requires a strong understanding of both energy saving and energy production. By incorporating elements of energy conservation and renewable energy systems, you can ensure that your home will be eco-friendly and energy efficient. The construction of an eco-home can be viewed as an integrated process, beginning in the very first stages where placement of the home is concerned and running all the way through to the choice of appliances such as water heaters, to be installed. This article will look at a number of these features.
Orientation and Solar Gain
The first and possibly most significant decision to make is the placement and orientation of the home. Selecting the house location should take into account exposure to the sun, wind and tree cover. While this may be easier on larger lots, on smaller lots, the choices for placement may be limited, but orientation can still make a huge difference in energy savings. Eco homes should make use of the Passive House principles which use passive solar gain to heat the structure in the winter and sun shielding devices to limit solar exposure in the summer.
To maximise the winter solar gain, the long axis of a home should run east to west, with the largest glazed area facing south. Roof overhangs should also be carefully angled to allow the lower winter sun to warm the interior but long enough to block the higher summer sun form overheating the house. Furthermore, houses should incorporate materials with a high thermal mass, especially where the sun shines through on to the floor in winter. Materials such as stone, tile and concrete absorb heat steadily over the course of the day and release it slowly throughout the hours of darkness, providing a radiating heat source.
Insulation and windows
Once you have the architecture to control the amount of heat coming in, you need to be able to maintain a relatively constant interior temperature. The best way of doing this is by integrating high efficiency insulation technologies. With the majority of heat typically lost through the roof of a structure, investing in high R- value roofing insulation is a must. With gaps in walls also being major culprits of heat loss due to wind exposure, making sure you have a gap free envelope is essential. For both areas, using insulation which can seal off gaps and reduce airflow is vital. Finally, buying low emissivity (low-E), dual pane windows dramatically improve the energy performance of your house.
Renewable Energy and Appliances
Of course, this passive system is only so effective and often auxiliary heat sources are required. This is where economy radiatorscome in. Because electric heating systems allow superior zonal control over whole house heating systems, they are very effective heaters in specific areas of the home. They are also stylish alternatives from traditional, clunky heaters, providing a range of models to choose from to best complement your home.
From an eco-home standpoint, best practice would be to power your electric radiators and other appliances through a renewable power source. There are a number of renewable power systems available to the eco-home owner. Photovoltaic panels (solar), hydroelectric generators and wind turbines offer the ability to run some if not all of your electrical appliances without relying on non-eco-friendly power sources. Choosing Energy Star rated appliances and more efficient technologies also dramatically helps your energy conservation.
If you are planning to build an eco-friendly home, considerable planning is required, from home location, orientation, building material, roof angle, insulation, windows type and appliance choice. Furthermore, if you are trying to achieve a measurable degree of energy efficiency, you should register with one of the certification institutions such as PassivHaus or LEED before you begin construction. This will ensure that your project gains certification as certain inspections are needed as construction progresses.