Build smart for energy savings

Whether starting afresh from the foundations up or planning a complete reimagination of an existing home, one of the top factors on the minds of homeowners coming into the summer of 2019 is energy efficiency. Like petrol prices, electricity prices are a bone of contention, and driving them down can be as easy as investing wisely in the way you build — and adopting new technologies, you may not have thought possible.

For example, we all know that one of the top costs in a home’s energy profile is hot water heating. For those with a small occupancy, a califont may be the answer, swapping electricity for on-demand gas heat. As well, there are other options for even the largest families —  take, for example, an integrated system which utilises a hot water cylinder for storage, heavily insulated at the core of the home.

During summer, solar panels aligned to catch the northern sun do all the hard work, while in winter an efficient fireplace — already used to heat the living areas in lieu of electric heating — provides piping hot water as well. To add more value, a heat transfer unit can be placed in the roof cavity, distributing excess heat from the fireplace to the home’s bedrooms.

Another warming option which has come a long way in efficiency is underfloor heating. Fluid based units have traditionally run on gas, electricity or diesel, but in the countryside, there’s the option to run a wood burning underfloor system — and one which is so thermally efficient that a single sturdy log can heat a large home all night. Combine factors like these with gas cooking in the kitchen — the chef’s choice, in any case — and suddenly the electricity bill has been razored down dramatically.

Fitting LED lights goes another step of the way, but for those who really want to get off the grid (or feed power back into it for a small profit), there’s the option of fitting photovoltaic solar panels to power up those last few appliances. The best time to consider PV electric, of course, is when reroofing — so why not fit out that roof cavity with great insulation and run the tubing for extractors and ventilation units while the iron is being replaced?

A little forethought and an investment in technology could see even the oldest designs of home renovated into energy smart money savers.

Talk to your local plumbers, gasfitters, roofers and electricians when planning your build to incorporate power-saving factors and chop those monthly bills down to size.


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