If incorporated in initial plans and home designs, builders and future homeowners can easily maximize renewable energy sources. Builders who desire a cost-effective, energy-efficient and comfortable living space should consider employing solar water heaters, photovoltaic systems, passive solar heating and other techniques.
Here are some easy benchmarks to ensure these ideas are incorporated to your home or commercial building:
- To avoid after-the-fact fixes such as solar screens, promote and encourage designs that shade the structure.
- To lessen the impact of the afternoon sun, encourage design “buffers on west walls such as garages or closets. It could be as easy as flipping the distance from the ground so the garage is on the west side.
- Make use of the thermal mass characteristics of tile and finished concrete floors by reducing carpet area.
- Optimize the ratio of the window to the wall.
- Make sure that the window placement promotes flow-through ventilation, both from prevailing breezes, and by low and high windows which draw air towards the house.
- Insulation levels should be optimized.
- Appliances that are highly efficient should be encouraged or installed.
- Lessen electrical needs.
- By water conservation, reduce hot water needs.
A home or building that utilizes renewable energy should most of all be energy efficient. Well-thought energy plans will have little or no effect if a house or building is not well insulated. Installing a minimum of R-30 in the ceiling and R-13 in the walls would be ideal.
Other comparatively cost-effective measures such as radiant barriers, high performance windows and proper duct sealing will also make a home more livable and energy efficient.
Besides the fact that it’s free, the sun provides the best type of light. But despite these facts, daylighting is almost never discussed when talking about energy needs in the home. Well oriented windows that provide for indirect light reduces the amount of electricity required for general and task lighting.
Innovations continue to develop such as roofing material made of PV cells, but more cost effective options with the inclusion of solar-powered gate openers, outdoor lighting and water pumps can still be a trend for a short period of time.
In areas with climates with both heating and cooling seasons, selecting windows with both low U-values and low solar heat gain coefficiency is important.
Appliances that consumer huge amounts of energy are particularly the refrigerator, washer and dryer, microwave etc. Choose horizontal-axis washing machines that save water and the amount of energy to heat it. When shopping for an appliance, always make sure you choose to purchase ones that have the ENERGY STAR label.
To fully appreciate and reap the benefits of building an energy efficient home and commercial space, it is essential that you also have energy efficient equipment, employ energy efficient designs, support and make use of systems that utilize renewable energy sources.
Renewable resources are unlimited and readily available, unlike fossil fuels. It is a clean energy source that can be used pollution free and allows for local energy independence.
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