5 Steps to Building and Designing a Sustainable, Energy-Efficient Home

Are you thinking of building a home? Then why not build one that saves you on your energy bill and is less harmful to the planet. 

Step 1: Choose the Right Size, Orientation, and Layout

  • Size

Given a choice between a big and small house, which will you choose? I bet 90% of people will choose a big home. However, smaller houses are more sustainable because they require less construction material and they consume less energy.

Therefore, carefully analyze your needs; do you really need a big house? Try to cut down as much as you can. However, remember, you are building something you will love, so don’t compromise on size if it makes you uncomfortable. 

  • Orientation 

The orientation of your house can make your house more energy-efficient. If you live in a cold area, it makes sense to have a south-facing home to soak up as much of the sun as possible. You can keep the south open by adding windows, window-walls, and open areas. 

South-facing homes will require less energy as they will keep warm from sunlight, and they will also have plenty of natural light, reducing the need to turn on artificial lights. 

On the other hand, if you live in areas with a lot of sunlight, you can plant trees strategically to keep your house in the shade and reduce the requirement for cooling appliances. For example, you can plant trees on the west of your home to protect it from the sun’s glare.

  • Layout

When we studied shapes in geometry, I always wondered what their use was in real life. Well, here is the use; spheres and cubes are more energy-efficient shapes. While you certainly can’t design your house to look like a sphere (unless you want to), you can use these shapes to reduce energy needs. 

Step 2: Use Sustainable Construction Materials 

  • Use Local 

Half the blogs on the internet start with the word global village, and while I dislike the unimaginative repetitiveness, I have to agree with the statement. International trade is frequent and encouraged, which is why a home in Malibu has tiles imported from Spain, fittings from China, and kitchen cabinets from Europe. 

However, if you want to build a sustainable home, then consider buying local as it reduces shipping which reduces the carbon footprint of your home. In addition, you may even find that local vendors offer more customization and aftercare services. 

  • Use Recyclable 

Using recycled material to construct your home is another way to keep your house sustainable. Although you won’t be able to construct the entire house with recycled materials, you can try to use it as much as possible. 

Here is a list of materials for inspiration: 

  • Reclaimed wood for walls, flooring, doors, cabinets, and windows. 
  • Reclaimed doors and windows. You can purchase doors and windows that you were used in buildings that have been torn down and install them in your own house instead of purchasing new fittings. 
  • Reclaimed bricks, stones, slabs, tiles, etc. You can use them in your garden, patio, terrace, garage, etc., in a tasteful manner. 
  • Recycled glass; you can use it for your windows, countertops, and other requirements. 
  • Recycled Plastic: Try to find as many recycled or recyclable plastic fittings that are required when building houses. 

Step 3: Choose Insulation 

The next important step is to ensure that your house has sufficient insulation for your climate. From Icynene to Aerogel, there are many green insulation options you can choose to reduce the energy needs of your house. 

Consider the rate of insulation (R) when choosing your insulation material and style. Choose one that is suitable for your climate. The best insulation will keep your home warm in winters and cool in summers.

Additionally, insulation also keeps out drafts and reduces dampness and mildew. Insulation makes a great difference in your energy consumption needs; it will reduce your energy bill and your energy footprint. 

Some Eco-friendly insulation options are:

  • Sheep’s Wool, Demin/Cotton for light insulation 
  • Icynene spray foam for high insulation 
  • Polystyrene foam boards or spray foam is another option
  • Aerogel sheets 
  • Cellulose sheets

Step 4: Choose Energy Star Equipment and Appliances 

The next step to make your house energy efficient is to choose energy-friendly equipment and appliances. Choose machines with an Energy Star rating as they consume less energy.

When you are constructing your house, ask your builder to choose machines that have an energy star rating and later buy energy-efficient appliances for your home. It will make a huge difference in your energy bill and, of course, the impact your house will have on the environment. 

Machines, fixtures, and appliances to consider are:

  • Lights 
  • Home Appliances, such as carpet cleaning machines, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, etc.
  • Kitchen Appliances, such as refrigerators, beaters and mixers, dishwasher, etc. 
  • HVACs
  • Water Machines 

You can also use smart devices to monitor and maintain energy consumption, such as a smart thermostat, smart lights, etc. 

Step 5: Invest in Renewable Energy 

Finally, invest in renewable energy sources to save on your energy bill and reduce your impact on the environment. Some options to consider are:

  • Solar Panels

Solar panels or photovoltaic panels are an excellent option for renewable energy. If you live in an area with plenty of sunlight, you can install these solar panels that generate sustainable energy from the sun’s heat. 

Install the solar panels in an area with the maximum sunlight, such as your roof or patio. Solar panels come with batteries that store energy so you can use them even after the sun has gone down.

  • Wind and Water Energy 

Some areas also use energy generated from wind and water. If you live in a windy area, you may install a wind turbine to power your home. Similarly, if you live near a downhill water source, you can install a water turbine to create energy easily.  

If you are not currently in the market for renewable energy, consider an emergency generator

Sustainable and Energy-Efficient Homes are the Future  

Many people believe that sustainable housing is practically impossible. However, it is not true! From choosing the layout of your home to the appliances you install in your home, you can take steps to make your home more energy-efficient and less harmful to the environment. 

We all must play a part in conserving the earth for future generations, and building sustainable homes is a good way to do it! 

Author Bio: 
Arslan Hassan is an electrical engineer with a passion for writing, designing, and anything tech-related. His educational background in the technical field has given him the edge to write on many topics. He occasionally writes blog articles for Carpet Cleaning London.