Green building from the roots up

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 canvass 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 many benefits of a greener home. Below are a few ideas of what can be done from the ground up.


Let there be Light

The use of light is very 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 warmer in winter and cooler 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 in summer. This will considerably reduce your need for an electric heater or cooler.

Energy efficient appliances – its 2013 stop using your grandmothers microwave

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.

Solar geysers/Heat pumps – use the sun we have been blessed with in SA!

Perhaps the most potential to save on electricity will be through ones water heating costs. When designing a new home one must consider good conditions for solar geyser ie: 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 wise

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.

Gassy solutions

Gas may be used effectively in certain places around the home. Commonly used in stoves and fireplaces. It will be most efficient in places that have natural gas.

Where, What, 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. 

Feel free to comment on what else can be done to save electricity and build greener homes.


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