Will my building look cool? Most designers ask themselves this question at some point but what they should really be asking is, Will my building be efficient? Below are few ideas that may help to make your building more efficient.
South facing windows
To maximise solar gain itís a good idea to have as many south facing windows as possible. However if you have two floors donít put south facing windows on the second floor, in fact have as little windows area as possible on the second floor, why?
Windows are good at bringing heat into your house when the sun shines but thereíre not very good at stopping it going back out on a cold night. Because heat rises a well insulated house is naturally warmer on the second floor so if you have a lot of windows upstairs a lot of heat can be lost through the windows, you may also get condensation problems as a rule the higher a window is in a house the less efficient it becomes. So if you have most of your windows on the ground floor (facing south) youíll get the benefit of solar gain but loose less on cold nights. If you place a pond directly in front of your south facing windows youíll get even more solar gain because the sun will reflect off the surface, and it looks stunning.
Keep your ceiling height as low as is practical, vaulted ceiling look impressive but all your heat will rise above your head and youíll still feel cold. This effect is less noticeable in a dome because the air circulates more efficiently but keeping the ceiling within a reasonable height is still a good idea.
You may well ask what planting trees around your house has to do with efficient building design? Planting trees can keep your house warmer in winter and cooler in summer hereís how:
Trees provide shade on hot summer days and they also keep the air cooler and pleasantly humid when planted in groups. On winter nights the canopy of a few trees planted together acts like a blanket keeping warm air around your house. Trees can also help protect your house from high winds reducing the wind chill factor on those breezy winter days.
Less is more
Modern house building trends are to build bigger and bigger houses even though people are tending to live in smaller social groups.
Use space saving design to maximise the usable area in your house, moving walls, folding beds, creative storage can all be employed to maximise the usable space and minimise the size you need to make your building. Thereís no point in building a large house and only using part of it most of the time.
Minimise the surface area (improving heat efficiency) by not building extensions, porches, and conservatories etc, all of which increase surface area in relation to floor area. The most efficient shape to build a house is dome then square after that rectangle, when you get into L shaped, long and thin or with multiple extensions the surface area to volume ratio becomes dreadfully inefficient.
Keep it simple
By using less components you can save a substantial amount of money and time, try and keep the number of different components to a minimum (domes use very few different parts) only put doors and windows in were you really need them, of the windows that you do put in make only the bare minimum opening windows and of coarse making all the windows the same size is also a good idea.
If you have any more ideas for making a building more efficient please leave a comment below, the more ideas we have the better.
[ comments 8 ]
This is quite a useful site, in that it contains practicle information, experiential advice and some wonderful and accessible leads. Thanks
Dr Sukanta Kamila
Its really a very useful link for the new house builder. Thanks a lot.
William Bennett, Greece
By using underfloor heating with a heat pump, using ground, water or air, is one of the most efficient ways of heating your home.
energy efficiency is something to consider carefully when building a house - with the price of fuel, declining oil supplies and global warming, it's important.
so - 2 main types of energy consumption - heating and everything else. the average house should have an electrical demand generally less than 2kW (unless you have lots of gadgets), with a further heating load (varies considerably, I'm in a terraced 3 bed house, with a 13kW boiler).
Heating - to minimise your heat loss, follow the steps above, and also insulate your house as much as you can afford. - what ever you pay for now, you'll save in the long run. 1-2ft of rockwool is well worth it, more if you have the space. with enough insulation, you can use a minimal level of heating (i.e a small woodburning stove).
then there is the electricity demand. you have to reduce it as far as is practical (CF lightbulbs or LEDs, nothing on standby, back boiler on the stove for water combined with thermal storage tanks, etc etc. renewables will help - solar panels to charge batteries, same for a small turbine, hydro if possible, etc etc etc. one advantage of our gadget hungry culture - lots of things need batteries. not normally an advantage, but renewables can help here - it's easy to get a 12V renewable supply, so you can use it to charge a big battery, then use that to charge everything else.
Conservatories can be a good thing as long as they are not heated as they will act as an extra layer of insulation
Minimising surface area is really an important aspect. Not only that you save energy - you also cut construction costs. Here is a nice comparison of different building shapes: sites.google.com/site/lowenergyhome/architectur
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