The cost of living is at an all-time high, and everyone is looking at ways of reducing energy costs. For those undertaking a building project, this is the perfect opportunity to invest in architectural solutions which can improve energy efficiency and save on costs in the long run.
At L + Architects we specialise in well-being and zero carbon design and strive to create beautiful and healthy spaces for the mind. We feel a responsibility in our design to advocate for progressive and sustainable methods of construction, that will also have a positive impact on energy bills, and energy savings.
Embracing eco-friendly solutions has become more of an important factor at the planning process, as the carbon footprint of new developments and the impact of buildings on the environment is paramount. Apart from implementing changes at the planning stage, there are also ways to transform your current home into a greener space.
In this blog we will detail things to keep in mind at the building stage of your project, including insulation, lighting, water heating, windows, doors, roofing, and more, to help reduce energy costs.
One of the most cost-effective ways to cut down on heating bills is to reduce the amount of air escaping out of your building through cracks, or door or window frames. Caulking and weatherstripping are simple yet effective air-sealing techniques to prevent drafts of cool air in the winter, and hot air entering in the summer, for an ideal temperature all year round.
Lighting accounts for around 15% of the average home’s electricity use, so is an important factor to consider. Switching to energy efficient lighting, such as LEDs, can save the average household around £240 each year. LEDs use up to 90% less energy and last 25 times longer
than traditional incandescent bulbs, and while these bulbs are a little more expensive up front, they will save you money in the long run. For those with the greatest energy savings, choose bulbs that feature the ENERGY STAR.
Outdoor lights can be left on for a long time without being used or noticed, and energy efficient solutions to outdoor lighting can therefore produce significant cost savings. Outdoor LEDs and solar-powered lighting can be used for pathways, steps, porches, and floodlights.
Make the most of your lighting by using controls such as timers and dimmers, as well as outdoor motion sensors and automatic daylight shut-off to save on electricity when lighting is not being used.
There are many different water heating options, with ways to upgrade each to make them work more effectively for your home.
Boilers – A simple way to reduce on energy costs is to upgrade your boiler to a more energy efficient model. As boilers account for almost 60% of your home’s emissions, investing in a new model will also drastically lower your carbon footprint.
Heat pumps – Most homeowners who have heat pumps use them to heat and cool their homes, but a heat pump can also be used to heat water. As heat pumps work by moving heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly, they are two to three times more energy efficient than conventional water heaters.
You can install an air-source heat pump system that combines heating, cooling, and water heating. These combination systems pull heat indoors from the outside air in the winter and from the inside air in the summer. Because they remove heat from the air, any type of air-source heat pump system works more resourcefully in a warm climate.
Adding a desuperheater to a geothermal heat pump system can create efficient water heating by using excess heat in the summer that would otherwise be expelled to the ground, with the ability to provide the majority of your hot water needs.
Solar water heaters are the most efficient option, using the sun’s heat to provide hot water without relying on generating energy using electricity.
When shopping for windows and doors, take notice of energy performance ratings, materials, functionality, and durability, to consider which would be the most suitable and effective for your building project.
Frames can be made of a variety of materials, offering different thermal performance:
Vinyl frames are made of PVC material. They can be filled with insulation and have good moisture resistance, making them the best choice overall.
Fiberglass frames can also be filled with insulation, giving them a greater thermal performance.
Wood frames provide good levels of insulation, yet require regular maintenance.
Composite frames are made of composite wood products, offering the same thermal performance as wooden frames yet with better moisture and decay resistance.
Single glazing is common in older buildings, yet glazing technology has advanced and double or triple glazing is implemented in all new buildings for better heat retention and efficiency. The space between the panes acts as an insulation, keeping warmth in during the winter and heat out during the summer.
Windows can also feature low-emissivity coatings on the glass, which control heat transfer within the insulated glazing. Windows manufactured with low-e coatings typically cost about 10% to 15% more than regular windows, but they reduce energy loss by as much as 30% to 50%. Some e-coatings can filter out 40% to 70% of the heat, while allowing the full amount of daylight.
Ensuring your loft and roof are properly insulated can save you more than £200 on energy costs each year, by reducing the amount of air and heat which escapes out of the top of your home.
Energy efficient roofing can be created by using solar panels, especially if you are in a location that receives a lot of sunlight. Installing solar panels on your roof can generate between 40% and 80% of your energy, which will impact energy savings hugely.
If you are looking to take on a new-build project, then why not consider a build that matches Passivhaus standards? Passivhaus standards or protocols refer to buildings created to rigorous energy efficient design standards so that they maintain an almost constant temperature.
Passivhaus buildings are so well constructed, insulated and ventilated that they retain heat from the sun and the activities of their occupants, requiring very little additional heating or cooling.
The first step toward building a Passivhaus home is finding an architect who has Passivhaus experience. We are members of the AECB group, and we are committed to being an agent to improve the sustainability of the industry through low carbon emission construction solutions.
We have vast experience in designing Passivhaus standard homes that are architecturally beautiful.
To find out more about how we can help with your building project, contact us today – https://www.lplusarchitects.com/contact/