As Bob Dylan so wisely sang in the summer of 1979, the times they are a-changin. In 2022, with the climate changing at an accelerating rate, the name of the game is sustainability. And it isn’t as out of reach as you think. Even the most mundane of residential construction work can be tailored to be as sustainable as possible.
My old man installed solar panels on the roof of our family home in 1997. They generated about enough energy to power a ceiling fan, and it wouldn’t become a financially viable decision for about forty years – he knew that going in, but such was his commitment to the cause that he wanted to be a pioneer. That was 25 years ago. The technology has developed to such a place now where your arrays can be paid off within six to ten years. After that, they save you money every single quarter. They are easy to install, and if you end up installing a battery later on, you will be able to power your appliances through blackouts. In a world where energy supply could become fraught with difficulty, this could make all the difference.
Passive temperature control
The orientation of the house can make a massive difference to the temperature and general comfort. Ideally, a house would make use of all the north facing aspects possible. This stops your from having to crank an oil heater (fire hazards) or electric heater (energy suckers) all winter. It is equally important that you would get some cross ventilation into the design as well, so the prevailing breezes can be called upon to cool you down in the height of summer. You might think that this is trivial, but it can save you thousands of dollars a year.
This is my personal favourite part of my house. Picture your hot water being pushed through pipes and pressed against your floorboards. Then there are insulation batts placed around it to disperse the heat evenly, and a reflective material is put against the back so that the heat is reflected upwards, not down into the ground. You can turn it on and off, and adjust the temperature as you see fit. The end result is that I am constantly in shorts and t-shirts in my house all through winter. It hums along at a balmy 25 degrees regardless of what happens outside. The best part is that it can be retrofitted into any pre-existing residential construction.
Have you ever put your hand against a window in the dead of winter, and found it to be freezing? That is where your house is leaking heat like a sieve. We always encourage clients to not skimp on the windows they chose for their residential construction. A triple glazed window will leak no less heat than any other part of your house.
This is just a few of the things you can consider in your residential construction to make it as energy efficient as possible. And though there is some initial outlay, I can speak from both personal and professional experience when I say that it is worth it; in terms of comfort, civic responsibility and your back pocket. It is worth it.