21 Feb 2013
South Africans are becoming increasing more aware of their electricity usage. This is motivated by two main factors, namely the rising price of electricity as well and an eagerness to look after our environment.
There are many large and small retrofit initiatives that households can consider when trying to reduce their electricity consumption but the greatest chances can occur when designing a new home.
New homes are the perfect canvas for the implementation of green initiatives. Architects and developers must engage with new technology in order to make sure that, going forward, clients can enjoy the benefits of a greener home.
Craig Isaacson from Unlimited Solar shares a few ideas of what can be done from the ground up…
Let there be light
The use of light is important in new homes. North facing stands with large windows and skylights should mean that consumers switch on lights only at night.
When consumers do need to turn on lights they must be energy efficient lights, which consume far less energy.
LED lights are probably the best option on the market at the moment but consumers must take care in choosing good quality lights that will last longer and give the correct light in terms of beam angle and colour.
Blow hot and cold
New homes should be well insulated both in the roof space and the walls.
This will ensure that the house stays warm in winter and cool in summer therefore reducing the need to turn air conditioners and heaters on.
There should also be windows on various sides of the house which will help to create a through draft in order to cool the home during the summer. This will considerably reduce your need for an electric heater or cooler.
Energy efficient appliances
When moving into a new home one should consider changing over to energy efficient appliances.
An energy efficient fridge for example will consume far less energy than an ordinary fridge.
Energy efficient products are always advertised on the packing so look out for an energy star or green stamp when shopping; this states that the appliance consumes less electricity because of certain characteristics.
Each appliance is different in the amount of energy it consumes; consumers are not required to research each and every product before they buy it but should generally be aware that there will be an energy efficient option in most products.
One should try to be aware of this and look out for the various energy efficient stamps. Consumer appliances are generally measured in Watts – a lower wattage unit will generally mean a more efficient product but be careful that it doesn’t just mean a smaller size product or a less powerful unit.
Solar geysers vs. heat pumps
Perhaps the most potential to save on electricity will be through water heating costs.
When designing a new home consider good conditions for a solar geyser, for example, a north facing or flat roof.
One also has the opportunity to hide the solar geyser if the home is designed well thus protecting the aesthetics of the home.
A heat pump is also a great alternative that will save consumers money and will be friendlier on the environment.
Water saving showerheads and flow restrictors should be installed on all water outlets. This will help to save water.
Hot water saving will lead to even greater savings in electricity as well.
The best way to save on hot water is through a solar geyser. That way the sun is responsible for heating your geyser and electricity is only used as a backup source of heating.
A geyser will generally make up about 40 percent of one’s total electricity usage so if consumers can use the sun for about 70 percent of their water heating needs then they can save substantially on their energy costs. Heat pumps are also great options to heat one’s geyser and a similar saving will be achieved.
These days there are cleaning detergents that claim to work just as well in a cold wash as a hot wash, this encourages consumers to try these products as well.
Saving energy is about looking out for the simple changes that one can make. When you boil the kettle for one or two cups of coffee make sure you are only boiling water that you need , this will make it quicker to boil and consume less power.
Energy efficient shower heads will reduce the amount of hot water we use and therefore save on water heating costs.
These can be purchased from Sanitaryware Centre which has a wide range of energy efficient showerheads. When it comes to energy saving, nothing is too small to overlook, all the small things add up and if everybody participates it will make a massive difference.
Gas may be used effectively in certain places around the home and is commonly used in stoves and fireplaces and braais. You can also get gas geysers.
It will be most efficient in places that have natural gas.
Where, what and how?
There are many more ways to save electricity when building a new home but perhaps the most important is orientation and design.
A new home should be north facing, make good use of light and allow for a constant flow of air throughout the home.
For more information, visit www.unlimitedsolar.co.za
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