The Earth is facing numerous environmental concerns it has always been up against since 2011, that’s why many Australian homeowners are considering updating to energy efficient home designs. However, the cost of that change is what’s holding them back. Above all the other reasons, it's more expensive than conventional alternatives.
This article will show you some popular energy efficient home designs that you can consider in your home renovation. We’ll also give economical and efficient ways that you can follow throughout and after the makeover.
What is an energy-efficient home?
An energy efficient home uses less energy and water and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, decreasing environmental impacts and utility bills. Choosing renewable energy sources for your home is essential to consider if you renovate. You must use less energy for heating and lighting appliances to reduce your carbon footprint and make your home sustainable. At least you won’t have to worry about energy costs while maintaining a properly-heated home.
If you intend to convert your home, your proposed design and construction documents must be compliant with the energy efficiency requirements of the Building Code of Australia (National Construction Code). It’s a must to achieve a 6-star rating or more from Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) to ensure that your home has passed the design, materials, and climate standards, making it water and energy-efficient low running costs, and quality air and daylight.
During your building license application, you’ll need an energy report for your building certifier or surveyor. In New South Wales, however, you’ll need a Building Sustainability Index (Basix) Certificate for a renovation or construction costs worth more than $50,000*. It assesses the water, thermal comfort, and energy components of any sustainable home design.
To achieve a home like this, it must be well-designed. This project must employ professionals such as architects, building designers, draftsmen, or builders. This is to ensure that your home adheres to the community and your standards. Your home, above anything else, should be cost-effective, clean, comfortable, environmentally friendly, and healthy to live in.
*The figure mentioned above is a rough estimate only.
Why is it important to have an energy-efficient home?
In 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic led to the growth of utilities and energy commodities. The prices spiked more due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. These incidents affected food, finances and energy markets, which set an increase in their rates. Although Australia doesn’t get fuel from Russia, the pandemic and the international price movement significantly contribute to the hike in these prices.
That’s why in little ways, your lifestyle and household work must use less energy. To add to your list, here are why converting to an energy-efficient home is important.
- It saves you from paying hefty utility bills. Energy prices will likely rise more than 50 per cent in 2022 and the next few years. Meanwhile, electricity accounts for a significant component of the household budget — this is because electricity uses 50% of energy in Australian households. Once you modify your ways and water and energy usage, you can expect a considerable decrease in utility bills.
Moreover, you must choose a range of energy-efficient home appliances and products that belong to the list of recommended products in the government’s energy rating system.
- It helps you generate fewer emissions. Fossil fuels produce electricity, while the latter contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Later, they release emissions that are the leading causes of global warming. If you adhere your home to the energy-efficiency standards, you’ll generate fewer emissions.
- It makes your house comfortable all year. Your house has to use shading, ventilation, and thermal mass. These principles of intelligent, energy-efficient home designs make sure that your place is comfortable enough to live in and will withstand Australian climates.
- It is thermally comfortable. A home with less energy helps keep the home at a comfortable temperature in any climate or weather.
- It has health benefits. Since an energy-efficient home uses fewer fossil fuels, it lessens the negative impact on people’s health, such as respiratory, circulatory, and nervous systems, which highly affect their quality of life.
- It has less operating expenses. Practising energy-efficient techniques in your home will require you to throw out your appliances that don't have an energy efficiency rating. However, trading them or buying new appliances with the said ratings will let you save electricity in the long run. You also save energy on heating, cooling, water usage, and more.
- It makes blackouts or disasters manageable. Once your house is energy-efficient, expect to maintain your home’s temperature even after changes in climate and weather; or blackouts and disasters.
- It improves your home’s resale value. Since it saves utility bills, more buyers will be interested in buying your home. That is if you intend to sell in the future.
- It lasts longer. A study says that investing in a high-quality energy-efficient home will last and perform for more than decades.
Energy efficient home designs and materials
In our previous article, we’ve laid down some tips and materials on creating an energy-efficient and eco-friendly house design. More than anything, the material must be natural, reusable, recyclable, and durable to contribute to the energy efficiency in a home. Here are some energy efficient home designs featuring the materials that help maintain sustainability.
- If you intend to renovate older homes to energy-efficient ones, it’s best to consider timber for the flooring. They are a lot more compatible with integrating into existing timber floor structures. It helps keep the same structural movement, ventilation, and floor levels. Of course, they need to be insulated, sealed, and equipped with correct underfloor ventilation.
Check out some photos in this gallery for inspiration.
2. One advantage of using concrete floors is that it helps regulate the temperature inside the house, even in different climates and weather. Of course, they still need to be insulated underneath to work best.
3. For your walls, the perfect material to use that gets the job done and is aesthetically pleasing is a zero-carbon cladding. This material is lightweight, termite resistant, safe, quick, and easy to install. They also have low embodied energy when used and volatile organic compounds (VOC). Choose a brand that offers the type of carbon cladding with zero carbon footprint, Green Tag certification, and has no added silica, formaldehyde, etc.
For 100% Australian made zero carbon cladding, click here and check the gallery of our partner inspirer/provider.
4. What’s good about double-glazed windows and doors is that they can withstand the weather outside. So if it’s winter, it can keep you from the cold; and if it’s summer, it can save you from the sun's heat. Double glazed windows and doors help you reduce energy and electricity usage by less heating costs. They help a home have stabilised temperature without using many appliances.
Choose a brand that prioritises comfort, energy efficiency, noise reduction, and safety. Be inspired by the portfolio of our partner supplier in this gallery.
5. Insulated roof: You can install insulation to your loft, attic or flat top to reduce heat loss and heating bills. Installing one is practical and cost-effective at the same time. Correct installation of insulated roofs can guarantee a 40-year lifetime.
How can I build an energy efficient home?
If you think about it, it’s easy to build an energy-efficient home. You just have to be specific with your floor plan and design since they are a significant factor in the overall energy efficiency of your home. Sure there are standardised home plans available online for purchase that already have six stars and above energy ratings. However, they aren’t exactly fit for your existing space, mainly if you’ll renovate.
Talking to a professional about your project may not be as bad as you think. Honestly, having a pro working closely with you can help you be at ease with the transitions, decision-making processes, and factors of your renovation. Remember, it’s not just a design, furniture, or appliance you’re making a decision for; it’s a design that will help you in the future.
- Choose a floor plan. Choose a floor plan perfect for your needs, including ventilation and others. Be specific with the aspect and orientation of your home.
- Have a smart use of space. If you create zoning between rooms and pick an accurate layout, you can save on utility costs such as cooling, heating, and water. You can also experience additional energy savings if you strategise the placement of your artificial lighting and use it just whenever it’s needed.
- Pick the right materials. As mentioned above, there are materials that energy efficient home designs must-have. They must be blocking the heat, not absorbing it, providing durability against the weather, insulating correctly, etc.
- Consider the location. Your area of consideration should not only factor in the land space, but you and the experts working with you should study the direction of natural light, shape and slope, existing environment, and climate variations as well.
- Purchase and install energy-efficient appliances and systems. You may have been utilising appliances that don’t have high energy ratings. You can swap or sell them and opt for heaters and air conditioning systems with energy star ratings. Such can help you save approximately 10% on running costs. You may want to switch your regular bulbs to LED ones as they can greatly reduce monthly energy costs. You can also consider adding solar panels and water tanks that may help decrease negative environmental feedback.
- Comply with the BCA (NCC). The BCA set requirements to reduce the environmental impacts of energy consumption and water usage. A 6-star energy rating must be met by following the sealing and service requirements or consulting an energy efficiency expert.
- Engage an expert building designer. When you speak of site assessment, insulation level design and detailing, internal zoning, sizing, location, and effective sealing, having a building designer helps ensure that your home reaches optimum efficiency.
Once your homes employ and execute environmentally friendly ways, expect to maintain the correct temperature, make you more comfortable with your space, and ultimately experience saving costs due to your home’s wasted energy.
If you’re ready to start your dream energy-efficient home, don’t hesitate to speak with the designer suitable to work for you in your dream space.
How can you renovate your home to be inexpensive?
In consulting with professionals in building and design, clearly explain to them that the efficiency of your space or home is a priority, so they can offer you additional advice or suggestions on how to make it work in your home. Converting to an energy-efficient home is not just a trend or design but a life of commitment. Installing these energy-saving technologies and techniques still requires effort and work from those living in it.
Your hired professionals may help you start with the plan and the selection of the material for walls, roofs and floors. Not only your roof needs insulation, but your walls and floors, too.
Skylights, moreover, are a great addition to your home. Aside from cost-savings in light expenses, they can also help natural light and ventilation come into your home. Invest in high-quality materials for your skylight, and ensure that you place it somewhere where the heat doesn’t overwhelm you. Also, hire someone who can install them for you. Superdraft can help you get an experienced and professional installer if you’ll consider adding skylights to your home.
You may also want to consider sustainable water strategies for your toilets and laundry, such as rainwater tanks and greywater recycling. You can even change your taps and shower heads to water-saving ones as they help save wasted water up to 80%.
For your hot water needs, a cost-effective way is to have a solar hot water system or solar domestic hot water system in your home.
A significant 20% of Australian households contribute to the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. If you cut your energy use, you’ll be able to steer clear of further greenhouse gas emissions. This is one of the reasons why the Australian government is determined to make every home in Australia energy-efficient.
How can Superdraft help
As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to regulate internal temperatures inside your home: to keep the doors shut, draw the blinds or windows systems down, etc. These small steps are equivalent to doing something for environmental sustainability. Our lifestyles need reconstruction, too—ending our relentless squandering of natural resources and opting for sustainable, energy-efficient home designs that have lasting global consequences.
If you want a home consistent with your goals, sign up for Superdraft. We can match you with an expert building designer, draftsman, land surveyor, or engineer to help you have a comfortable and energy-efficient home. You can book your free consultation and quote now to kick-start your project. Our project consultants can provide a build cost estimation and assist you with your renovation from start to finish.