While saving water, electricity and money are significant benefits of creating an eco-friendly home, there are additional considerations that make building a sustainable abode highly desirable. At Eco Essence Homes, we aim to show our customers how to find sanctuary and additional comfort in their homes.
Here we share tips for improving the comfort and liveability of your home, and help you better understand your home’s green future benefits.
1. Block orientation
The orientation and size of the block is the most important factor when building or renovating – especially when it comes to designing an eco-friendly home. Where a home is placed – including the direction it faces – can have a huge impact on its heating and cooling abilities. We believe that planning the optimal orientation to take advantage of climatic features such as sun exposure and cooling breezes is the key to the initial design process. No matter the orientation of your block, we can adapt one of our existing or custom designs so the living areas are positioned effectively.
- It’s ideal for the living areas to face North so they get maximum sun.
- Service areas and secondary rooms should be positioned on the South and West sides of the block to create an unobstructed north facing yard.
- Considering the orientation of your home improves the opportunity for solar access to Solar PV and Hot Water Systems.
This orientation map demonstrates how we with the orientation of your block customise your design.
2. Light, Cross-Ventilation, Insulation & Thermal Mass
Rather than relying on costly mechanical heating and cooling such as reverse cycle air conditioning, we advise homeowners to take a holistic approach, starting with finding the best possible orientation for light and cross ventilation. This is called passive design and its importance cannot be overstated.
While north and north-easting facing properties enjoy the most direct sunlight, south-facing homes remain dark for the majority of the day and west facing homes cause a ‘sauna effect’. Something as small as the addition of a window in the right spot can make a dramatic difference.
We advise home owners to orientate their living spaces for cross ventilation and natural light to reduce their reliance on electrical heating and cooling.
- Ensure the majority of glazing is facing north.
- Ensure minimal glazing on the East, West and South elevations—these are the cause for extreme heat gain or dramatic heat loss.
- We can optimise designs by adding thermal mass such as earth coupling, polished concrete floors and block walls. This helps store heat generated during the day and release it gradually from dusk onwards to reduce the need for artificial heating.
- Modify eave overhangs and other shading devices – horizontal and vertical – to make the most of natural light.
- Optimise the floorplan for a venturi-effect so cross-flow ventilation speeds up as cool dry air pushes out the hot humid air.
- Build with well insulated walls. Scyon™ cladding acts as a shield and doesn’t hold on to heat, helping to regulate internal temperatures.
External cladding like Scyon™ Linea™ can be used to create energy efficient and thermally comfortable buildings in any Australian climate.
Zoning your home into separate primary and secondary living areas and service areas can also help avoid unwanted heat loss and gain, which is prevalent in excessively large and open areas.
- Utilise doors to zone off unused areas
- Seal draughts from the exterior and good quality insulation in the walls and ceiling.
By zoning your living spaces, you won’t waste time and money heating or cooling unused space.
4. Avoid VOCs
While good ventilation is key to a clean and healthy indoor environment, there are other considerations for maximising the quality of air inside your home. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are one of the worst offenders when it comes to air pollutants.
- Select paints, glues, materials and finishes that have no – or low – VOCs to ensure you enjoy the healthiest air possible
We only select materials and finishes that have no – or low – VOCs. Contact us to find out more about our process.
5. The right finishes
If your home is south-facing, it is essential to make sure light isn’t being blocked. If you plan to build a staircase, opt for one with open treads and balustrades and a skylight above.
- Choose the right tiles and paint finishes can also be very efficient in helping the light to reflect and bounce around a room. For example, darker coloured walls will heat up quicker and create shadows throughout the home causing a closed in effect.
We chose a darker finish for this bathroom to ensure the walls heated up faster and this bathroom remained warmer.