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10 Tips To Develop A Sustainable Design For Your New Home

Considering sustainability early on in the planning and design phase of your new house will not only save you money down the track, for instance on energy bills, but the impact to the environment could be minimized as well.

1. Natural heating and cooling

Take advantage of a solar passive design to plan and build your house with the climate rather than against it.

Up to 50% of energy use in homes in south eastern Australia is for heating and cooling. A solar passive design house can contribute to lowering your energy bills by using the sun to provide natural heat in winter but keeps it out in summer to keep your inside cool.

2. Natural lighting

Design your house floor plan with at least one window in each room to benefit from natural light during day time. If a room doesn’t have an external wall consider installing a sky light to bring the light in via the roof and ceiling.

For larger spaces like living room or family room you might want to design fewer but big sized windows rather than many small ones. More windows mean more blinds and curtains to equip.

3. Good insulation

  • Insulate your walls, ceiling, under roof and under floor to keep the heat inside in winter and outside in summer.
  • If you build in a climate region, design your floor plan with rooms, spaces that have doors so you can confine each space. That will ensure more effective heating in winter and cooling in summer.

4. Double glazing windows

If your budget allows go for double glazing windows. Alternatively you can mix simple and double glazing windows. Depending on the orientation of your house you will place higher insulating windows on southern or western walls to achieve better passive design.

5. Good window covering

Provision also for blinds and curtains that have high insulating characteristics. For example new cellular blinds are more effective than curtains.

6. Gas heating and evaporative cooling

Ducted gas heating is more economical to run than an electrical system. Also while an evaporative cooling installation may not chill the air like an air conditioner would, it will provide plenty of cool air during summer days with gentle power bills.

[Update following on from Brian’s comment] Also design your house floor plan to facilitate zoned heating, for example by using sliding doors to isolate your living area from the entrance which doesn’t need heating.

7. Solar hot water

Solar panels to provide hot water can save you money. The laws in this domain change frequently check with your supplier about government subsidies for new hot water installations.

Brian at anewhouse wrote a helpful article about solar power and how it would save you money. You can check it out here.

8. Conserve rain water and limit water waste

Plan a rain water tank for your garden needs. Regarding your mixers, shower heads, toilet suites examine the WELS rating and select those with highest rating (4+ stars).

9. Low energy consumption light fittings and appliances

  • Prefer low energy, compact fluorescent globes to halogen for your downlights. Nowadays CLF downlights can be great alternatives to halogen and use up to 5 times less energy. For example you now can install 9W CFL downlight where you would have put a 50W halogen a few years ago.
  • When designing your kitchen plan for kitchen appliances such as refrigerator, wall oven, rangehood, microwave, dishwasher that have the highest energy rating.

10. Low water use garden

Design gardens that are low in maintenance with plants that require low water use.

Read more practical tips about designing your dream home

Check out kitchen designs ideas

Bathroom ideas that work

Post image: www.sxc.hu/profile/gabriel77


Home Energy Advice Team (HEAT)

Queensland’s Sustainable Homes

Sustainable house day NSW

Resource smart (Victoria)

Building sustainable houses in Western Australia

Building in SA

Sustainable living in Tasmania

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  1. Number 6 – With your heating make sure its zoned so you are only heating the rooms that you need to heat

    • Thanks Brian for pointing this out. I also think zoning is definitely part of a sustainable house design.
      I’ve updated the article.

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