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Building Green - Energy Efficiency Building Plans Geraldton

Building Green - Energy Efficiency Building Plans Geraldton

Environmentally sustainable housing is nothing new. The techniques used by settlers in this great country of ours to keep homes comfortable in the harsh Australian climate still work...

Clever advertising has drawn consumer’s attention away from quality, durability and functionality of homes for several years now and with the availability of reverse cycle air conditioners the effectiveness of a building’s performance has been less of a priority.

Due to this in recent years the Government, has found it necessary to implement minimum standards for the construction of new homes. This will help protect dwindling recourses and as Gas and electricity get dearer help control the heating and cooling costs of running your home. Therefore the Energy Efficiency requirements were brought into effect several years ago, with these new requirements came a method of measurement for your homes effectiveness with regard to Energy efficiency, this is the Star rating system, the more stars the better your homes performance will be. Currently we are required to achieve a minimum of Six Stars for a building to achieve a building permit for construction.

At Triton we endeavour to balance low initial outlay with the effectiveness and lifespan of the product’s and techniques. Rather than large outlay that may require replacement by the time your initial outlay has been recouped.

Some of the recommendations are:

Roof Ventilation

Roof ventilation often involves drawing cool air in from under the eaves, and expelling warm air from the top of the roof.

Ventilation systems work to regulate heat and moisture in your home. A properly operating ventilation system will improve your home’s comfort, while also discouraging damp from setting in and causing damage. Likewise, effective ventilation also plays a role in ensuring that your home’s climate control systems are as energy efficient as they can be.

The roof and ventilation

Without ventilation, hot, moist and stale air can become trapped in the roof cavity. During warmer months, this can cause heat to radiate through the ceiling and increase indoor temperatures.

In cooler months, moist air condenses and can encourage mould growth. Installing a ventilation system in the roof allows air to circulate, and can also help to improve the air quality in your home, allow moisture to evaporate, and control and regulate temperatures.

Roof mounted ventilation systems

Correctly place roof vents will draw cool air into the roof, and expel warm air. Roof ventilation systems normally make use of two or more different types of vent to allow for a flow of air through the roof cavity and out of the top of the roof. Roof ventilation systems are normally either passive ventilation systems (as opposed to powered or mechanical systems), or are a combination of passive and mechanical vents.

Below is a list of the types of vents that might be used in a roof ventilation system:

  • Soffit vents – These are vents that can be installed in the underside of your eaves, also known as the ‘soffits’. These vents draw air inside the roof, which then encourages the warmer air to be expelled, normally through a vent in the ridge of the roof.
  • Ridge vents – Ridge vents are installed along the ridge(s) of a pitched roof. They allow warm air to escape as it rises to the top of the house.
  • Whirlybirds – Also known as turbine vents, whirlybirds also help heat to escape from the roof cavity. These vents are situated on top of the roof. They have fins which help them to spin, which creates a vacuum, drawing hot air up and out of the roof cavity.
  • Whole house fans – Whole house fans, whilst not that common in Australia, can be installed to draw hot air out of the living area of your house and up into the ceiling cavity. They are usually located on the ceiling of the most central room in the house. Because whole house fans work by drawing cool air inside the house, the outdoor temperature needs to be lower than indoor temperature for these to be effective.

9 Cooling Tips and Tricks

Australia is known for its hotter-than-hot summers, so finding ways to cool your home without constantly relying on air conditioning is important. Not only will it save you lots of money, but it will also make your home more comfortable to live in.

ceiling-fan

 

Fans are a very effective method of cooling.

Image courtesy of Beacon Lighting.

1. Ceiling fans

A ceiling fan can be a good addition to a home. By circulating air and creating a breeze effect, ceiling fans make it feel cooler. They also cost a lot less than an air conditioner, both to buy and to run. There are many types of fans you can use – portable, oscillating, box – but the ceiling fan offers the best results. One of the biggest advantages of a cooling fan is that it can be used in conjunction with an air conditioner to help prevent cool air from pooling on the ground.

If you live in a multi-storey home, you could also consider a whole house fan. This involves installing a fan into the ceiling of the highest storey in your house, which then extracts the warm air from the top of the house, and sucks cool air in through a network of vents in the lower levels of the house.

 

2. Curtains or blinds

As well as helping you to retain heat during winter months, curtains can be used to repel heat generated by the sun in summer. If you install blinds or shades that are a bright colour (like white), they will actually work as a reflector and minimise the amount of heat that comes in through your windows. Likewise, thicker, multi-layered and thermal backed curtains are more effective for keeping heat out. Having said that though, it’s far more effective to stop heat from getting inside in the first place using special glazing’s and films or exterior window shades.

 

3. Double glazed windows

On all windows that get direct exposure to the sun, you should consider double glazing or tinting. This will affect the quality of light you get inside your home, but it will also help to control how much heat is allowed in.

 

4. Awnings

Awnings are a great way to reduce heat gain through windows. When positioned properly, they reduce the amount of direct sunlight reaching the glass, without adversely affecting the quality of light that you get inside.

 

5. Turn off the lights

Certain types of lights, such as incandescent lamps and halogen downlights, produce a lot of heat. Avoiding these lights in the summer months will help reduce the heat in your home. Alternatively, you may consider switching them to energy efficient alternatives that run at a cooler temperature, like compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

 

6. Pick a colour

In the same way that lighter coloured curtains help to cool a home, lighter coloured walls and ceilings absorb less heat than darker ones. Avoid darker coloured surfaces.

 

7. Control humidity

In Australia, particularly up north, humidity is a force to be reckoned with. Humidity can make a room feel warmer than it actually is, so controlling it is an important part of staying comfortable. Avoid tasks that expel steam, like using your clothes dryer, ironing or cooking.

 

8. Insulate

Insulation in roof and wall cavities helps keep the heat out of your home. It acts as a buffer between the outside weather and the climate inside your home. During winter months, it traps heat inside your home, but in summer it can be equally as effective at preventing heat from getting in. The thicker the insulation, the better the result.

 

9. Plant some trees

If your room backs on to a yard or garden, a very simple and decorative way to reduce the amount of heat you get inside is to plant some trees outside. Over time the trees will grow and produce shaded areas, and reduce the amount of direct sunlight hitting your home.

Note. Make sure your choice of plants and trees don’t have root systems that may affect drains, paving or the foundation of your building, there are also recommended minimum distances that should be considered to reduce the likelihood of damage from roots and branches.

What is Water Management?

water-tank

Rainwater tanks are a great way to keep your garden green when there’s water restrictions in place, as there have been in Melbourne in the past.

A shrewd plumber once proclaimed that the main purpose of a house is to control how water’s used. If you take into account all of the plumbing systems that stealthily snake their way around your home, it’s hard not to see an element of truth to this. Because modern plumbing’s so reliable and normally hidden behind walls, we really do take it for granted – and many of us use far more water than we need to as a result.

What’s water management?

Water management’s the process of assessing how water’s used and abused throughout your home, and then managing and monitoring your use to help reduce waste and increase efficiency.

How can I assess my water usage?

Your water bill will give you a general indication of how much water you’re using over a set period – although if you’re serious about reducing how much water you use, you’ll need to identify where water’s being wasted.

To assess water use on a daily basis, you can read and record the values on your water meter at the same time each day to get a snapshot. If you’re having trouble finding your water meter, check the front corners of your yard.

Some homes (and more often apartments) have smart water meters installed which automatically record usage data and can provide a detailed picture of how much water’s being used and at what times. You can also have a plumber install a smart metering device, if you choose.

Assessing water use for a single appliance

To evaluate how much water’s being used by a single appliance (your dishwasher or washing machine, for example), you can take a reading of your meter both before and after you’ve put it on for a full cycle. You can also use the same method to see how much water’s being used for a single shower. If you’re measuring water usage at the meter though, you’ll need to be careful to ensure that nobody else decides to flush a toilet or wash their hands while you’re testing.

It’s worth mentioning that replacing a dishwasher or washing machine outright simply because it seems to be a bit of a water guzzler isn’t a particularly ‘green’ solution to the problem. If you do identify that your appliance uses more water than you’re comfortable with, try experimenting with different load sizes or wash cycles to find what the best choice is. Different types of appliances will vary significantly in terms of how much water they drink for different purposes.

If you’re on the market for a new dishwasher or washing machine, check the WELS star ratings label and choose something with a high water efficiency rating.

Toilet efficiency

New toilets, taps and showerheads all have water efficiency ratings – and are generally designed to be far more efficient than older hardware.

Toilets can account for up to about 20% of a household’s water usage, so opting for an efficient model from the outset will make a big difference to how much water’s used. Toilets expel a set amount of water with each flush (or half flush), and this is determined by the volume of the cistern.

If you have an older toilet with a bigger cistern and only the option to do a full flush, there’s a good chance your toilet will flush up to 12 litres at a time. A modern low-flow cistern, by comparison, may use less than 4 litres per flush. The difference easily adds up to hundreds of litres a week. Just remember that if you’re considering installing an efficient toilet, you’ll need to make sure the bowl is designed to go with the cistern.

Water efficient taps and shower heads

Low flow shower heads and taps will also save a serious amount of water. A 3-star rated shower head is likely to spout 6 to 7 litres of water per minute (compared to 15-25 litres for an inefficient shower head). An efficient tap with an aerator may only pour 2 litres per minute, compared to 15-18 litres for a regular tap. Remember that not every tap needs to be ‘efficient’ – if you’re filling a bath, for example, you’ll use the same amount of water no matter what (and a faster flow is much more practical).

If you want to see how much water a particular tap or shower head uses, time how long it takes to fill a large bucket and then calculate the total volume for a minute.

Reusing wasted water

Perhaps the best way to ensure that water’s not wasted is to install devices and systems to recycle water. Rainwater from the guttering along your roof and grey water from your bathroom isn’t considered ‘potable’ (i.e. fit for drinking), but it’s perfectly good for watering your garden or washing your car. A rainwater tank or greywater recycling system can make a big dent in your water consumption, especially if you’ve got a thirsty garden.

Diverter valves to direct cold water that might otherwise be wasted when you turn the hot tap on will also help.

Sensible use

It shouldn’t have to be said, but a bit of common sense will also help when it comes to saving water. Limiting the amount of time you spend in the shower, making proper use of the half-flush button, turning the tap off while you brush your teeth and planting hardy, drought-resistant plants will all help to reduce your water consumption.

Monitoring your usage is a great start – simply being aware of your daily consumption and how much water’s used in different parts of your home will lead to better water management.

simply cooler or warmer than others without relying heavily on powered cooling or heating devices? This is probably due to the design of the building itself.

Called ‘passive design’, there are several techniques you can use when designing your new home to ensure that it’s naturally cooler in summer and warmer in winter. A good passive design allows you to reduce both your bills and your carbon footprint by cutting your reliance on artificial heating and cooling.

What is Passive Design

 

passive-house

Good passive design makes for a very efficient house.

Have you ever noticed that some houses are simply cooler or warmer than others without relying heavily on powered cooling or heating devices? This is probably due to the design of the building itself.

Called ‘passive design’, there are several techniques you can use when designing your new home to ensure that it’s naturally cooler in summer and warmer in winter. A good passive design allows you to reduce both your bills and your carbon footprint by cutting your reliance on artificial heating and cooling.

The building envelope

In the past, you may have heard the term ‘building envelope’ get thrown around and wondered what it meant. A building envelope describes how the combination of the roof, walls, windows and floors of a home help to isolate the atmosphere inside the building from the atmosphere outside. A tight building envelope’s very important if you want to control heat gain in hotter summer months, and heat loss in the cooler winter months. In buildings with a tight building envelope, you will likely need some form of mechanical ventilation too, so as to carefully control your home’s air quality.

To improve your building envelope, there are a number of factors you need to consider.

1. Orientation

By carefully choosing the direction in which you home faces and its placement on your lot, you can do a lot to achieve an efficient home design. For example, in the top part of Australia where the climate is generally warm and humid, direct sun exposure should be avoided, so longer walls (which may otherwise have a significant impact as thermal mass) should face south. In cooler parts in the south of Australia, they should face north to provide much needed heat in winter months.

2. Thermal mass

When deciding on the building materials used in your home, it is important to understand the impact they have on the way heat is absorbed, stored, released and distributed throughout your house.

In particular, ‘dense’ materials such as brick and masonry are excellent at absorbing heat, and then slowly radiating it through your home (even overnight). Controlling the amount of sunlight (or heat form other sources) that is absorbed by brick walls, concrete floors and other dense bodies allows you to control how heat is stored and released.

3. Insulation

Insulation plays an obvious and significant role in how well your building envelope performs. Properly insulated walls, ceilings and (in many cases) floors is vital to ensuring that heat stays where you need it – either inside or outside. Likewise, insulation can help you to control how heat is dissipated from the thermal mass in your house.

4. Windows

In every home, windows are the single worst culprit when it comes to excessive heat gain and loss. As such, it is incredibly important to understand the impact the windows you plan to use will have on your home.

To control how heat is allowed in and out through windows, you need to consider how big they are, how high up they’re located (because heat rises), advanced glazings and films, shading of windows, how they’ll be shaded when heat is most needed and least wanted, and how well they’re draught sealed.

Passive solar heating Passive solar heating is mostly about capturing and storing available heat from the sun. Good window design is integral not only to allowing sunlight into your home, but also to ensuring that it doesn’t escape. Carefully positioning and insulating thermal mass in your home will ensure that heat is collected, absorbed, stored and released the way you want it to be.

Passive solar cooling Passive cooling is quite different from passive heating, and planning for both at the same time is where things get interesting. If you live in the north of Australia you probably won’t need heating at all, and you can design your house exclusively for passive cooling. If the climate where you live varies, you will need to consider ways to optimise your home for all seasons. Good wind ventilation or stack ventilation strategies and ensuring that windows are shaded are very effective measures for passive cooling.

Light Globes

Lifespan, energy use & cost

Every type of light bulb has a different average rated life. In general, incandescent bulbs have a shorter lifespan than CFLs, while LEDs will typically outlast both of them.

Life expectancy of different globe types

  • Incandescent globes, on average, last between 700 to 1,000 hours.
  • Halogen globes can last up to two or three times that amount, depending on the quality of the globe.
  • Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) last considerably longer, with an average lifespan of between 6,000 and 15,000 hours.
  • LEDs will typically outlast everything else by quite a big margin, with an average lifespan of between 70,000 and 100,000 hours.

money

Choosing the right lights is cheaper in the long term.

The light bulbs that last longer also tend to require less energy to operate, which means, per month, you’ll be paying less on your power bills. For example, the average rated life of a 60W incandescent bulb is between 750 and 1,000 hours, while CFLs can last up to ten times longer than this and consume about a third of the electricity. LEDs are vastly more efficient, again, and last considerably longer (although their output depreciates, rather than actually dying altogether). The down side to this, of course, is that the cost of these lights increases significantly with energy efficiency and rated lifespan.

Running cost vs. purchase cost – are expensive globes worth it?

As a rule, the more you save on energy consumption and replacement bulbs, the more you have to pay for the globe to begin with. LED globes are more expensive than their CFL counterparts. Generally speaking though, the longer-lasting and more energy efficient globes will end up being more economical in the long run. With electricity prices set to rise dramatically in the near future, super-efficient LED globes will become the clear choice.

Average rated life

In Australia, manufacturers are required to show this as the ‘average rated life’, which is the industry standard rating system, and which shows the average number of hours that a given type of bulb produced light during testing. For halogens and CFLs this represents the amount of time until they stop working. For LEDs, this time is the point at which light output from the globe is 30% lower than its rated value.