The hottest months of the year are now behind us as we say goodbye to summer and hello to autumn here in Australia. However, there must’ve been some days this December to February where you thought you could’ve literally melted. And you probably ran your air conditioner all season long along with the majority of Aussie families who spent an estimated average of $578 each this summer in wasted energy.
While we understand you might have forgotten to turn your air con off or simply wanted to come home to a cool house, it’s an easily avoidable habit that’s costing close to a quarter of Australian families a national spend of $1.3 billion. With energy prices shooting up 80-90% in the last decade and now sitting at record highs, this wasted energy to cool your empty home adds up over time.
This might not have gotten so out of hand though if you had a cleverly designed home built with the harsh WA climate in mind. You don’t need to cut off your creature comforts like air conditioning completely, but when used in moderation with an energy efficient home design, you can see real savings.
So if you’re thinking of building a new home, choose a builder like Total Homes who takes the hard work out of saving energy starting with the initial design. To avoid unnecessary electricity costs next summer, here’s a few clever ways that home design can help you save money.
Open plan living
At Total Homes, we don’t want you to sweat the small stuff. That’s why all of our ready to move in homes are designed to keep you cool and cut costs on your energy bill all year round – starting with an open plan living, kitchen and dining area.
A common misconception is that larger spages are harder to heat and cool, which could lead to higher energy bills. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Open plan living spaces create a cooling microclimate in the centre of the home and allow for cross-ventilation across the entire living area.
By removing the walls between these rooms, you’re opening up your home and allowing the space to breathe. While walls are great for trapping heat, light and moisture – which works well in a bathroom – it’s not ideal for a communal living area. So if you’re trying to save money by cutting down on your air conditioning running time, open plans increase the circulation of air which allows you to create a natural airflow instead.
Just remember to keep your doors and windows shut during the day when it’s really hot, then you can open up the home once the evening breeze rolls through. A general rule to follow is that if the outside temperature is lower than the inside you should open up the house. This is a great no-cost way to cool your home quickly in an open plan without having to turn the AC on – but make sure to close it up again before you turn in for the night, as the new day may bring a new wave of hot air.
One of the major features of an energy efficient home design is the orientation. Orientation is the positioning of a house in relation to seasonal variations in the sun’s paths as well as prevailing wind patterns. It’s all about orientating the house design to align with the natural process of your environment in order to save energy and stay cool during the hotter months. This includes:
- Temperature: How cold does it get in winter and how warm in summer? What’s the difference between daytime and nighttime?
- Angle of the sun: How much light will get through your windows in different seasons?
- Direction of the wind: Where’s the wind coming from so you will get a good breeze coming through?
As good orientation can increase the energy efficiency of your home, making it more comfortable to live in and cheaper to run, so it’s important to know how your home will be oriented to make the best use of sunlight and winds. In Australia, the areas of the home that are most likely to attract the sun are the north facing areas. So if you want to keep your house cool in summer, you’ll need to work with the sun’s different angles and orientate it to the north.
And just like you want your walls facing north, you also want your windows pointing in that direction too to let the sun in during winter and to keep it out during summer. It’s important to also make sure your windows are aligned to allow for a cool breeze to easily flow through the house when it’s hot.
Windows also need to be shadowed for additional protection from the sun, particularly in west-facing rooms. In fact, lack of appropriate shading can cause overheating in summer by allowing a low angle east or west sun to strike against surfaces at more direct angles, reducing reflection and increasing solar gains. So by using shading devices like window treatments, you can cut down on your cooling costs and protect your new home from the harsh sun streaming in. At Total Homes, all our window treatments are included when you move in, so you’ll have a tighter grip over your energy bill in the long-run.
Air conditioning & insulation
Living in Perth, the weather can be unpredictable. In fact, this month we experienced our warmest recorded night in two years. So as hot autumn continues, you never know when you might need to prepare your home for those unexpected warm nights. And what better way to be prepared than with smart inclusions like air conditioners and insulated roofs?
Air conditioning is a luxury we all crave and while it’s not recommended to be run constantly, it’s great to have for when you need it. When you choose Total Homes, your air conditioning is included. With a ducted reverse cycle inverter system with 8 outlets and 4 zones provided by Food and Doonan, you can ensure your home is always ready for a heatwave with the push of a power button.
We also provide roof insulation to the ceiling of the house and garage to keep your new home cool even in the hottest of months. This is a fantastic inclusion because uninsulated ceilings add up to 35% more heat indoors. Roof insulation acts as a barrier to heat flow and significantly reduces the internal temperature of the house, so by adding insulation you’ll quickly notice the effect on your home and your energy bill.
Thinking of building an energy efficient home? Always keep your cool without the crazy costs thanks to Total Homes. For more information on how you can turn one of our new home designs into your own personal living sanctuary, contact us today.