Home Design Ideas for a More Energy Efficient Home

BY Allconnect Inc | Thu Apr 25, 2013

Guest Post by Emily Harper

Going green has its perks. It’s a chance to do your part to save the environment and it’s also a way of significantly cutting costs. But living the green life doesn’t mean going all out green by replacing all of your appliances with energy efficient ones or using entirely renewable energy sources. You can start going green with just little things. A few additions and small renovations could result to a huge impact in your home. The most cost-efficient way to do these is by doing them yourself. They aren’t just for savings, they could also liven up your home by adding a little character to it.

Shading

For those living in warmer climates, you can reduce your home’s air condition usage by just decreasing the amount of heat entering your home. A simple and effective way of doing it is by adding an outer shade onto your windows to prevent direct sunlight from striking through them. Traditional sun awnings are perfect for coverage and shading. They have been proven to reduce solar heat gain by as much as 60-80%, depending on the window types. There are different types of awnings, like sun awnings, rain awnings or patio awnings but all of them can endure any kind of weather from the hottest of summers to the coldest of winters. A study from the Center for Sustainable Building Research from the University of Minnesota found that even homes in colder climates benefit from awnings by reducing energy by 23-24%. The study also covered how awnings can potentially reduce maintenance costs of power equipment as a result of its role in reducing energy costs.

Awnings can either be manually or automatically retracted when not in use and their angle of shading can also be changed, depending on your preference. Most awnings available in the market have instructions for manual installations, making it easier for DIY installations.

Simpler and more readily available materials for shading include blinds, curtains, and bug-and-weather-resistant zip screens.

Insulation and Ventilation

Insulation is important in keeping your house comfortable and lowering energy costs from cooling or heating all year round. Even simple attic insulation like laying fiberglass rolls to the joists can be enough. Other insulation can be installed but it usually depends on the climate and the structure of your home.

Besides from the usual insulation materials like fiberglass or cellulose, roller shutters that are usually used for security purposes have built-in insulation. Whether installed inside or outside the home, they help reduce heat gain and loss. Roller shutters are also well designed home defense measures.

But insulation alone will not suffice. A home also needs to be well ventilated to go along with the insulation. The most preferred type would be the cross ventilation design that lets in more air. Letting natural air flow freely inside your home is a good energy efficient tactic. It decreases utility bills because the need for air cooling systems or appliances are lessened. While not all houses are designed to accommodate natural airflow, small, homemade windmills can be used increase needed wind flow.

Landscaping

When thinking of landscaping, you would usually think it’s something that can boost the appearance of one’s home. But it is also a way of adding shade, ventilation, and even protection from winter winds. The right type of landscape, e.g. the kind of trees, bushes, and shrubs you would want to plant, relies heavily on the type of climate you have. Temperate to hot-humid regions such as Georgia and Mississippi need landscapes that maximize wind and shade and plants that need less water, while cool regions would need dense windbreaks as winter protection. While regional climate is the main consideration, microclimate or the immediate surroundings of your home should also be considered for the perfect and most effective landscape.

Smart Spaces

Spaces that are a source of subsidiary heat are handy and helpful in keeping your homes warm. One example is a sunroom or sunspace. They are basically another room inside or an additional room/space outside of your home that can be used for warmth and makeshift greenhouses. Sunspaces are built to help reduce heating expenditures as well as added aesthetics.

If you’re not too keen (or maybe under a certain budget) in constructing a sunspace, a good alternative are verandas. Your very own veranda is the next best thing. One study showed that using verandas can result in 4-23% in energy savings. The rate of efficiency ranges, depending on the environmental conditions, type of housing, and the insulation and glazing used on the veranda. Besides its energy efficient function, a veranda adds exterior appeal to your home.

While all of these might seem trivial to some, their significance in improving your home’s effectiveness in using lesser energy is enormous. And these examples prove that having a greener lifestyle is easy. It doesn’t just have to be about buying a lot of solar panels, building large scale wind turbines, or making use of backyard hydropower. It all starts with little things. It’s easy and effective. Anyone can do it.

Guest Author Bio: Emily Harper is a housewife and an active member of the neighborhood watch. She worked in marketing but is now keeping her readers up-to-date with the latest security technology and DIY trends through writing.

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