Maria Luisa Castellanos
8 Ideas for a More Energy-efficient Home Design
Build smaller: Reduce the square footage of your home. This is the easiest and cheapest way to reduce energy consumption. Smaller house, less to air-condition.
Include cross-ventilation in the design: There is no need to use air-conditioning all year around. If you include windows on several walls of a room, you can create cross-ventilation. This will reduce the need for air-conditioning.
Orientation: Orienting your windows to the south, east, and north while reducing the number of windows on the west. The north only has sun in the winter so it’s good to have windows on the north. The eastern sun is the morning sun as the sun rises in the east. Windows on the eastern side allows the sun in the morning when the day is still cool. Windows on the south side when the sun is directly overhead should have some kind of screening, either eyebrows or overhangs over the windows. Windows on the western side of the house should be reduced or avoided altogether as the western sun is the hottest time of the day. Another helpful way of reducing direct sunlight is to provide trees in the vicinity of the walls and windows. The Miami-Dade County Landscape Code requires 3 trees near the house so as to provide shade.
Air tightness: One of the most prominent areas of heat loss is through air leaks in the building envelope. Luckily, it's also one of the easiest (and cheapest) improvements to make. In new houses, the Florida Building Code requires new double pane glass which is more efficient and allows less air leaks.
Insulation: Heat moves in the home through conduction, convection and radiation. All of these methods transfer heat, from outside in. To minimize heat gain through the walls, you have to insulate them. However, most heat gain is through the roof. Only 3% of the heat gain is through the walls, so the most insulation should be placed in the attic.
Windows and doors: To be sure you're using the most energy efficient and air tight products on the market look for the Energy Star Label. Again, provide overhangs and eyebrows over windows and doors.
Lights, appliances, electronics: Lights, appliances and electronics can consume much electricity on a daily basis. Invest in the most efficient products. Use LED or fluorescent lighting in the house. Look for the Energy Star Label for appliances.
Air-conditioning systems: Get the most energy efficient air-conditioning system that you can afford. This will pay hefty dividends over the long run.
Any new house design which incorporates these 8 ideas will certainly be more energy efficient than anything already in the market.
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