The Future of Energy Saving has to Incorporate More Than Just Turning off a Light

The energy efficiency of any home combines elements of its structure, its internal insulation, energy supply, appliances and common sense. Ideally, energy-efficient features in a house should be incorporated at the design and building stage. However, this is not an option for most householders. They are faced with the task of introducing energy-efficient measures and technologies in a cost-effective way and with the least domestic disruption.

When considering energy saving tips, it important to examine how energy is supplied to a house, how it is distributed within it and how it is consumed. Architect services in energy-efficient design is a growing specialist sector. Even though you may be improving a home rather than designing and building a new one, it’s always a good idea to hire an architect for advice on design and aesthetics, as well as guidance about local planning regulations.

Energy Supply

Many householders today can negotiate gas and electricity supply contracts from any number of providers. You do not need an architect for this first step in energy efficiency, but you will need one if you are thinking of generating your own power.

Solar Panels

Solar roofingSolar panels may sound green and carbon neutral but can be extremely expensive and ineffective mistakes. Britain has a temperate and often overcast climate. Solar panels installed on a roof can at best supply only half the electricity needs of an average family house. They need expensive monthly maintenance and cleaning to remain effective. Often, they look ugly on a roof. An architect can design an accessible location for solar panels when their power supply is needed – maybe in an outbuilding or a swimming pool. You might also need to have extra space in the house for a back-up battery storage facility.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps connected to a geothermal coil that is buried outside can provide sufficient energy for under-floor heating and hot water. This is a good solution for isolated homes in the countryside, but you still need an external electricity supply to power the pump. It does not work in an average suburban semi. There are too many buried utility lines in urban and suburban regions to bury the coil efficiently.

Insulation

Heating consumes the greatest proportion of energy in British homes. By making use of architect services, you can ensure that windows and doors fit properly to exclude draughts. When designing a new home, avoid external doors that lead directly to living areas as heat will escape as soon as anyone comes into the house. Double glazing is always a good investment.

Boilers

A condensing boiler is one of the most energy-efficient ways of heating water in an average home. This system uses the heat generated from the condensation of exhaust gases to pre-heat the water. You need to consult a specialist about the boiler’s location so that the condensate drains away correctly.

Appliances

The energy efficiency of standard kitchen appliances has improved significantly over the past decade. Sometimes a dishwasher is actually more efficient than washing dishes by hand. Most householders make informed choices about energy saving appliances in the kitchen but it’s another matter in the living spaces.

Modern televisions and sound, computing and telecommunications systems are massive energy consumers. Many smart phones need daily recharging, while it’s common for televisions and laptops to be on constant stand by. By all means switch off the lights save energy, but you save a lot more by switching off the television, DVD player and laptop.

Francesca is a freelance blogger and writer who enjoys writing about a variety of subjects, from environmental issues, to travel and food. She currently writes on behalf of McCormick Architecture.