Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Building Brick Homes Is Another One Of The Good Ways On How To Save Energy

There is no doubt about it, a energy efficient home is a cost effective one. One of the ways on how to save energy and make your home energy efficient is to design a new house properly and make use of the correct building materials.

In the old houses in Australia and South Africa, bricks have long been chosen as building materials. Nearly 90% of all the houses in these place are constructed using bricks, and still are today. Nowadays, in an effort to improve the energy efficiency of homes, building regulations require the newly built houses to use the right materials. Here are some points you should know that will help you come up with an informed choice.

As you are probably aware, most of the energy consumed in the home is used for cooling and heating purposes. Therefore, any effort that can reduce the cooling and heating requirements of your home will be a good one, right? But, do you think it is possible to reduce your cooling and heating energy consumption while keeping up the thermal comfort of your home?  This is where passive home design plays an important role.

In passive home design, the incoming energy from the sun is used to improve the house’s cooling and heating characteristics in a natural way. Four major principles make up passive home design. These principals are orientation, ventilation, insulation and thermal mass.

·  Orientation. Here is a simple example how orientation can affect your house's cooling and heating characteristics. If you live in the northern hemisphere, south facing windows would let the sun in during winter, assisting in heating your home. While during summer the sun is high in the sky, which will keep your house cooler as less surface of the window is exposed to sunlight.

·  Ventilation.  Cross ventilation is important. To facilitate cross ventilation, either side of the house should have sufficiently sized openings with almost no internal obstructions. This allows air to get in and out of the house in order to naturally cool it down. 

·  Insulation. Insulation in walls and ceilings acts as obstacles to heat conduction. The efficiency of insulation is characterized by the insulation material's R-value. But it is not only the R-value that one has to consider. The thermal mass is another important factor to keep in mind.

·  Thermal Mass. Typically, dense and heavy materials, like bricks, convey heat better through the walls. However, due to their thermal mass, bricks can absorb much more energy. Temperature differences then become small and the heat absorption into the house during summer is significantly reduced. Lightweight materials, compared to brick walls, have very low thermal mass. It is because of this thermal mass that brick walls are much better at moderating your home's temperature.

Now you understand why most houses built by the English back in the days where built from bricks. They understood the importance of thermal mass. Even if you go into one of these older houses today you will be amazed at how cool these actually are compared to the warm outside environment.

But this is ot just an old wives tale. There is a research that back up the theory that brick stone houses are energy efficient. Research has shown that a large part of the heat is reflected back to the external environment by the brick’s exterior surface. Other studies concluded that in summertime, the temperature inside a house constructed from bricks remained comfortable and favorable even though outside temperature varied significantly.

So, to finalize, when you plan on building a new home, think of the passive design principles and your ability to increase your new home's energy efficiency relatively easy. This is also one of the good ways on how to save energy. However, passive design is only one of the ways to better your home's energy efficiency. There are numerous other methods that you can implement, even in existing houses.