ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN NEW HOME BUILDS
A home that has a high star rating will not only provide you and your family with comfort and a clearer conscience, but will save you money at the same time. It is true that in order to reap the rewards of a high energy rated home you will have to spend more money upfront to incorporate these features into your home.
Some simple ways that you can make your home more efficient is by installing a heat pump hot water service rather than gas, which will go hand in hand with your solar panel system. You can also upgrade to a battery pack system like the Tesla Powerwall 2, which can be expensive unless you build with a company like Hallbury Homes who offer the whole solar and battery system as part of their build package.
Other simple ways to get a higher star rating is through insulation, most company’s offer R2.0 for the walls and R4.0 for the ceilings, but these can go much higher and are very cost effective for a large benefit. If you were to have thicker insulation in your ceiling (including above the garage) and thicker insulation on all walls, which includes all internal walls. The benefits are that will not need to heat/cool your home as often, as the home will retain the heat in winter and block out the heat in summer. This also provides the added benefit of reducing sound in the home, and knowing my kids that is a huge plus.
Windows are also very important, as I’m sure you are aware of double glazed windows and the benefits they provide. But did you know that you can go even higher with a system called Low E. This system is a lot like double glazing, where you have two sheets of glass rather than one, but they add a microscopic film that actively reflects UV, dramatically reducing the effects of the sun whilst improving the star rating of your home. You can also add Argon Gas in between double glazed windows which is a better insulator than air and also greatly reduces any condensation between the two sheets of glass.
Reducing the amount of lights in your home also improves efficiency. Ever light must have a hole cut into the ceiling, which creates an area where air can escape, thus reducing the efficiency of your home. LED strip lighting is a great method of creating large panels of light with a minimal footprint compared to a traditional batten light or down light.
One more key component to energy ratings is the material that clads your home. Traditional brick is not the best rated anymore for efficiency. AAC (Autoclaved Aerated Concrete) is one of the most energy efficient materials to build with. It is also quicker to install compared to bricks which makes it more cost effective. It also has to be rendered so it automatically comes with a more modern look. Hallbury Homes uses AAC for most of their homes and includes it to the ground floor of all their homes at no extra cost.
There are lots and lots of other options out there for energy efficiency and more common ones like water tanks, building materials and appliances. You just have to discern what is right for you, your family, your budget and your conscience.