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Building or renovating is an exciting time, but the number of decisions you need to make can sometimes feel overwhelming. Investing your time in getting the right design from the start will help you create a home to suit the way you will live – and use energy – now and into the future.

Here’s a quick checklist to help you consider energy efficiency in your plans.

 

Solar passive design

If you’re building or renovating, you’ll probably have a chat with your builder about solar passive design during the early stages of your project.  Solar passive design aims to block out as much summer sun as possible while letting those warming winter rays in. To achieve this, you might like to:

  • Ask your builder to adapt or flip a house plan you like to suit the direction your block faces. If you can, choose a plan that has your living areas facing north and your bedrooms facing south. 
  • Watch out for shading from tall trees or buildings to the north, as these could block out natural light and make your house colder in the winter months.
  • Create a bright and welcoming atmosphere with big windows along your northern walls. The lower-angled winter sun will be able to naturally warm your home – and you can position deciduous plants or a pergola to protect these windows from the higher-angled hot sun in summer.
  • Find ways to block out the glare from the western side of your home, as these windows bear the full, hot afternoon sun and glare in our WA summers. If you plan to enjoy the views from this side, you might want to make sure your western windows are under eaves or a veranda.

 

Lighting


The number and type of lights you choose can have a big impact on the way you use energy. You might like to:
  • Create a design to help you enjoy as much natural light as possible.
  • Choose the most energy-efficient lighting to help you reduce your electricity use in the long-term.
  • Have dimmer switches installed in certain areas, such as bedrooms.

 

Heating and cooling


For the most energy-efficient heating and cooling in your home, you might choose to:

  • Look for the most energy-efficient systems of heating and cooling to suit your budget. Heating and cooling can make up a large part of your energy bill throughout the year, so a higher energy-efficiency means you’ll be likely to use less energy.
  • If you like the idea of ceiling fans to circulate air in your home, let your builder know so they can incorporate this into your electrical plans.
  • Look for open areas in your home design which might be hard to keep cool or warm at different times of the year. You might be able to adapt your design in a simple way such as adding an extra door to trap the cool or warm air.

 

Solar and battery power


While some people leave solar on the “after we move in” list, it really pays to think about solar sooner. You might like to:

  • Include solar panels on your rooftop design from the beginning. Your builder can help you find the best roof position and orientation to suit the look of your home elevation and make the most of your solar energy production.
  • Find the right size solar system for your needs.
  • Consider whether you might have a battery in the future. Solar panels work while the sun is shining and battery power can store any excess energy for you to use when the sun goes down. Batteries come in a range of shapes and sizes, so it’s worth making sure your garage is designed with extra space for a battery in the future.

 

Prepare for the future

Once you have your home design ready for the type of lifestyle you’ll enjoy when your building or renovation project is over, you might want to think even further ahead.

For example, the popularity of electric vehicles is growing across the world and there’s an expanding range of electric options available. If you’ll be driving an electric vehicle in the not-too-distant future, speak with your builder about your garage design and charging points.

Considering these elements during the design process can help to make sure you have the right plans in place before you build or renovate. Our Synergy Smart Energy Hub in Subiaco features some ideas you might want to raise with your architect, builder or other suppliers.