There are many ways for builders to improve energy efficiency as part of renovations. For example, they can install airtight windows or upgrade the lighting system. Here is a look at the most common methods.
Energy efficiency is an important concern for builders and residents alike.
The benefits that homeowners get from lower energy usage are immediately obvious. They spend less on heating and electricity. Making a home energy-efficient often makes it more comfortable to live in.
But an energy-efficient design is also important from the builders’ perspective. Without it, a building won’t conform to current trends. Learning about energy efficiency makes it possible to keep up with competitors. Even more importantly, it is a prerequisite for many types of certification.
In 2019, the NCC (National Construction Code) is going through significant updates. When it comes to energy efficiency, this is the biggest alteration to the Code since 2010.
It’s important to look up the way the new Code quantifies performance requirements. The NCCVerification Method will play a more significant role from now on. This is going to cut down on non-compliance throughout the country.
In many cases, non-compliance came from a lack of clarity. It is going to be far easier to navigate the NCC from now on.
This change affects Green Star and NABERS Energy certification requirements. Additionally, envelope sealing requirements are changing as well.
In commercial buildings, energy consumption should decrease by 35%. Residential buildings are covered as well. The 2019 Code introduces new, separate cooling and heating loads. There is also a host of minor changes that will reduce energy usage in all buildings.
All in all, higher energy efficiency is necessary for compliance. The requirements become stricter on a yearly basis, so it’s important to keep up with the times.
As a builder, you have a wide variety of ways to improve energy efficiency. Some of the methods are more expensive initially but become cost-effective in the long run. Others are cost-savers from the get-go.
We should note that it’s important to start planning early. Going back to alter construction elements can only increase cost. It can also upset your schedule.
Due to more rigorous regulations, you might be forced to go back and improve some design elements. Hence, construction may start late or take a very long time.
Now, let’s look at some simple options that are at your disposal.
Method #1: Add Exterior Insulation
Better insulation is the most obvious way to cut back on energy waste. By keeping the building warm in the winter months, you can decrease fossil fuel use. But A/C is a significant energy sink too. Hence, proper insulation is just as important in the summer.
Before you decide on the best insulation for a building, consider the climate. Is keeping heat inside the top priority in your area? Or is the building located in a warm region? If that’s the case, your main goal would be to keep the walls from transferring heat inside.
There are two major types of insulation you can choose from:
Bulk insulation uses pockets of air. These reduce heat transfer through the walls of the building. It works well in both directions, meaning it’s equally efficient in the summer and the winter.
This form of insulation uses materials such as glass wool, polyester, polystyrene, and cellulose fibre. The thickness of the insulation is proportional to how well it works.
Used mainly in warm regions, this insulation reflects 95% of radiant heat. Reflective foil laminates are the top choice here. Next to the shiny surface, there is a 25mm gap layer of air. This provides extra thermal resistance.
Some options combine the benefits of bulk and reflective insulation. For example, you could use foil-faced boards for external insulation. Foil-backed batts are a good choice as well.
Method #2: Change the Windows
Having the right windows is a crucial part of energy efficiency. They can be responsible for around 40% of heat loss in the winter months. In the summer, 87% of heat gain comes through the windows.
There are a few easy ways to make existing windows more energy-efficient. It’s important to get rid of air leaks and weatherstrip the windows. With non-operable windows, caulking is an option too.
Changing the window coverings can also make a considerable difference. Blinds reduce solar heat gain, especially if they’re white. Even curtains can help reduce heat transfer.
However, these small fixes aren’t always enough. Replacing the windows is often the best choice. The changes in energy usage can quickly make up the cost.
When deciding on the best windows, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Glass and Films
Timber windows are well-isolated, but they are not durable enough. White aluminium frames are usually the better choice, as they last longer. Optionally, louvre windows are useful because they help control air flow.
- Operating Types
It’s best to choose an operating type that offers low leakage rates.
Automation can be used to improve temperature and air quality. This is particularly useful in the case of hard-to-reach windows.
- Internal Screens
A Few Words about Safetyline Jalousie Windows
We offer both louvre windows and automated windows. Our clients can decide on the type of louvre they wish to use, and there are motorization options as well. This makes it easier to match the windows to the weather. We also use comprehensive sealing options, which cut down on unwanted air leakage.
Method #3: Install LED Lighting
LEDs are replacing fluorescent and incandescent lighting. They last decades without needing to be replaced. Compared to incandescent lights, they reduce your energy use by 75%.
All energy-efficient changes reduce living costs eventually. In the case of LED lighting, this change is very fast and noticeable.
Sensors can be of use as well. This is especially true in commercial buildings. With sensors, the lights in a room turn off when it’s not in use.
Method #4: Improve the Building’s Controlled Ventilation and Passive Cooling Capabilities
Fans are considerably more energy-efficient than air conditioning.
Air flow control improves the comfort levels of a building’s residents. This is especially true in the warm months. But you should note that high-quality ventilation is an important safety measure for the winter months. It protects residents from the in-house emissions that can come from heating.
Ventilating roof spaces is even more important than in other parts of the house. Using reflective insulation can cool down roof spaces. Consequently, it keeps the entire building much cooler.
In addition to installing fans, it’s important to consider passive cooling options as well. Some possibilities to keep in mind:
- Use thermal mass in a way that preserves coolness (e.g. earth-coupled slabs)
- Install solar chimneys
- Make the best use of shading – protect windows, sunlit walls, and roofs
- Position windows in a way that improves air flow
Note: depending on the location, it may be necessary to install air conditioners. But there’s no need to install a unit in every room. It’s best to focus on rooms that are frequently in use. Additionally, you can advise clients to prioritize smaller rooms.
Method #5: Add Passive Heating Options and Skylights
Passive solar heating and skylights are gaining popularity. These methods are low-cost. They’re appropriate for all climates that require winter heating. While orientation is important, these methods can be used on any existing building.
To achieve passive solar heating, it’s important to add large windows to the northern walls. Louvres can improve passive heating. In addition to large windows, it’s best to move living areas to the north side of the building.
Once again, thermal mass is important because it stores energy. In south-facing rooms, it’s best to use materials that have low thermal mass.
What about skylights?
Traditional skylights (roof lights) are an efficient method of gaining energy. Tubular skylights are becoming more common as well. These devices capture sunlight and diffuse it inside the building. A reflecting tube is used to effect this transfer.
Even simple roof windows improve energy efficiency. They reduce heat loss and allow residents to save on lighting costs.
The Final Word
It’s increasingly important for builders to make energy efficiency a primary goal. This is the only way to comply with the NCC. It’s also the only way to provide clients with a comfortable and cost-efficient building.
The benefits to the environment can’t be overstated. Our country is developing an excellent understanding of the benefits of energy efficiency. This just means that the relevant regulations will become tighter in the future.
At every part of the process, question whether you’re making the most energy-efficient choice. It helps to speak to other experts, who understand the specific requirements for your region.
To maximize energy efficiency, it’s best to choose top-of-the-line doors and windows. The design of these structural elements has changed a great deal over the last decades.
Louvre windows improve the thermal isolation of your building. However, they have some inherent limitations.
At Safetyline Jalousie, we’ve worked around these shortcomings. The screening on our louvre windows eliminates free flow infiltration. We guarantee airtight sealing. To hear more about the energy-efficient solutions we apply to our windows, get in touch with our Business Managers today.