IN THE PRESS: Hacks to unlock an energy-efficient home

When building a new home there are a number of factors to consider, not least of which is maximising energy efficiency.

While it can be easy to get lost in the plethora of expensive inclusions available to achieve this, in reality a few clever design tricks and some well-placed features can dramatically increase the sustainability principles of a home.

“When designing a home, the most important factor to consider in terms of sustainability is energy efficiency,” Brian Burke Homes Group Managing Director Michael Burke said.

“The less energy a home requires to build and ultimately live in, the smaller its impact on the environment. To that end, when considering design alone, great emphasis must be placed on smart and practical energy-efficient design solutions.”

The starting point for any of these design solutions is the site, according to Mr Burke, who said an east-to-west site allowed for the best ingress of winter sun along a building’s length.

Solar Dwellings Director Griff Morris agreed the orientation of the site was important, with the general aim being to place the living areas facing north.

“An average home of 200sqm to 240sqm would need a rectilinear block with dimensions of 12m to 15m north to south, and 27m to 25m east to west,” he said.

When it came to building materials, Mr Morris said internal brick walls were generally the most cost-effective inclusion because they trapped and released heat when appropriate.

Mr Burke said a dark floor was a good consideration to trap winter sun, while insulating perimeter walls, ceilings and even under the slab would be good for homes in slightly cooler climates.

Mr Burke said the use of large eaves would keep the summer sun off windows and out of the home.

“Using certain styles of windows in specific locations to acknowledge and amplify cross-ventilation from our prevailing summer breezes is smart,” he said.

“A set of louvres, for example, provides almost 100 per cent of the window size as ventilation, so placing a set on the south-west and another on the north-east portions of a home can allow that summer sea breeze to flow through beautifully.

“It’s certainly not rocket science and doesn’t have to be expensive.”

08 Oct 2019