For most of us, green homes are highfalutin projects that require loads to money and other costly alternatives to construct. However, the fundamental fact is – any house that considerably reduces its impact upon the surrounding environment can be labelled as an energy efficient home. ‘Energy efficiency’ is the key phrase here, and it can be achieved from a slew of simple considerations, starting from ventilation to the spatial factor. So, without further ado, let us check out eight such important tips that could greatly help when building a green home.
1. Consider the locale/plot
We have all seen those wallpapers where grandiose homes are nestled in the midst of lush green countrysides. But practicality dictates other wise, if you are not filthy rich. In this regard, we should choose a locale with its weather pattern taken into consideration. We should further evaluate how the micro climate can affect our home and how the construction minimally interferes with the local habitat. So, in an ideal (and not idyllic) situation, we should opt for sites that are closer to settlements.
2. Consider the size of your house
Common sense iterates – more built-up area will result in more energy requirements. Consequently, we should carefully lay out a plan that decides on how much space we really need for habitation without sacrificing comfort. Quite surprisingly, in most cases, suburban homes tend to integrate useless spaces that end up adding to your energy bills. And even from the perspective of construction, fewer building materials account for lesser footprint.
3. Consider the inhabitants of the house
Plan in accordance with the needs and lifestyle of your family members. In this regard, it is always a good ploy to decide upon the rooms and how they are to be used, or even their relation to the outdoors. Moreover, also consider the number of inhabitants and if you are planning on expanding your family. Finally, make a rough outline of all these aspects for around 30 years and not beyond that. After 20 or 30 years, your lifestyle can change considerably along with your family.
4. Consider doing your research
There are a myriad of green techniques used around the world, with some of them individually suited to specific conditions. For example, if you opt for unconventional mechanisms like wind turbines, make sure your area has sufficient wind coverage. Also, there are some time-tested materials like Adobe bricks, which have been used for their greater durability and insulation for over 4000 years. And, remember – energy efficiency isn’t just limited to a particular scope; everything starting from sustainable materials, electricity, lighting to even paints have the capacity to be ‘green’ products.
5. Consider going vernacular
Always give more preference to locally available sustainable materials and building patterns. This not only reduces the cost of construction but also minimizes footprint from heavy transportation. Beyond economic viability, there is a big chance that local contractors and builders will have greater understanding of the site and the micro climate. Consequently, the project can ‘evolve’ with those indigenous design considerations.
6. Consider insulation and ventilation
Insulation is good for shielding your home from outdoor climatic effects; so, if it is hot outside, you house will remain cool, and if it is cold outside, you house will remain warm. But your design shouldn’t just be limited to enhanced insulation; it should also have some flexibility in terms of ventilation. In this regard, ventilation allows for exchange of wind flow and moisture control within your home’s interiors. As a matter of fact, efficient ventilation credentials can considerably negate the usage of those power hungry air conditioners (refer to our post – ‘cool’ alternatives to air conditioners), and thus save on your energy bills.
7. Consider going ‘solar’
Orientation of your home maximizes the chances of direct solar induction during winter time. Statistically, in United States, south facing residences account for an average of around 10 percent reduction in energy costs. Even during summer, you can easily ‘block’ these south facing windows with adequate shades and awnings. Furthermore, greater exposure to sunlight can immensely benefit you, if you are planning on installing photo-voltaic mechanisms.
And, as a word of caution, try to avoid those glass facades along the south facing walls. Such arrangements can unfavorably result in an opposite green house effect.
8. Consider the roofing of your house
It is your home’s roofing system (and not the walls) that acts as the primary ‘fortification’ against the rigors of outside climate. So, always give attention to the type of roofing and materials used for the roof. For example, a slightly sloping roof can do wonders for effectively draining rainwater, whereas a flat roof will tend to accumulate the rainwater (along with the muddy residual). As for materials, it is always sensible to opt for components with higher insulation rating. In fact, in many ways the quality of your roof’s insulation directly plays its part in heating and cooling your home.