The Victorian Building Authority established that all new home builds, renovations, alterations, and additions (except minor building works) in their state must comply with the energy-efficiency provisions in the National Construction Code (NCC) and must meet the minimum Six-Star Standard. When your home obtains a rating like this, it means you have an energy-efficient home that remains comfortable all year round. As a result, your home has lower artificial heating and cooling needs and you reduce the cost of running your home.
Because of that, a lot of Victorian homeowners want to have a six-star rated home (or higher). Go up by one star, your energy bills can drop as much as 30%.
The good news is, you don’t have to build from scratch to live in an energy-efficient home. It is possible to retrofit many energy-efficient designs and features in an existing home. All you need is to work with an architect or a building designer who practices good, green design. Getting a six-star rating is easy, as long as you get the right design during the planning stage.
Whether you are building new or renovating your current home, take note of these things that make your home more energy-efficient.
1. Orientation, window placement, and daylighting
When designing your house, place the family room on the north and northeast direction. Your north facing windows must be full-length to allow the heat from the warm winter sun to come in your house.
For new home builders, avoid putting windows on the western and eastern part of the house. If unavoidable, keep it small and make sure it’s well shaded. You don’t want the hot summer sun to enter the windows and warm up the house even more in the summer.
If you are a renovator and existing house have east and west facing windows, consider retrofitting new and more energy-efficient ones. Consider installing external shades like eaves and awnings too. Do these to keep the summer heat out.
Lastly, minimise the south facing windows especially when there are no stunning views that you can maximise. South facing windows don’t catch the winter sun and are prone to energy loss. If you plan to have south facing windows for the view, use double-glazed or low-e windows.
As a general rule, your windows must be less than 25% of the total floor area of the house. North facing windows must be the largest, south facing windows are the second, east and west windows must be the smallest.
2. Cross ventilation
An energy-efficient home is well-ventilated.
Natural ventilation is a highly effective way to cool your home. To do this, open the windows and doors on opposite sides of your home. Allow the breeze to flow from one room to another.
Because the air is circulating constantly and moving in and out of the house, the air you breathe indoors is always fresh.
For best results, open exhaust fans in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry. These suck the pollutants, moisture, and bad odour out of the house.
Good design aids in ventilation as well. Features like high ceilings (with fans), wide entry hallways, and massive stacking/sliding/bi-fold doors allow air to move in and out of the house.
3. Energy-efficient appliances
You make an effort to create an energy-efficient home design. Furnish it with energy-efficient appliances.
Use fluorescent lamps and LED lights to illuminate the house. These come in warm and cool lights, so you have options for all the rooms and areas of the house.
Opt for appliances with the highest energy-star rating. Renovators usually ditch old appliances and buy new ones to complete the look of their home. Yes, they ended up paying a little more but they aim to save more money over time.
Apart from investing in low-power appliances, we highly recommend picking up bathroom/laundry/kitchen fittings with a high WELS Rating.
The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standard (WELS) is a labelling scheme that aims to help Australian households conserve water — and money.
Save the most important for last. Insulation the key to an energy-efficient home. It’s a one-off cost and a sound investment, so do not skimp on it.
The insulation blocks the outside heat from entering your house. It keeps the warmth inside the house when it’s cold.
As designers, we highly recommend insulating your ceiling, walls and floors. Homeowners who got this right enjoys up to 45% in power savings every month. Make sure that you are using the right kind and amount of insulation material.
There are many insulation options to choose from depending on your circumstances and preferences. We can talk about the best options for you during an on-site consultation.
Better, you can discuss how you can make your home more energy-efficient.