Sneaky Sustainability: 7 Ways to Design a More Efficient Home

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If you are interested in building a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly home, you probably already know the basics: installing solar panels for power supply, choosing water-saving fixtures in the bathroom, you know the drill. But while that makes for some of the biggest uses of electricity and water, you might overlook some of the smaller factors. Luminaires, solar panels and sustainable landscaping can reduce your environmental impact, but the actual design of your home can help you to reduce that impact even more. Some of the smartest ways to increase sustainability are perhaps the sum of a few minor changes in the design of your home. Consider these sneaky sustainability shacks for a more energy-efficient home.

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A house with two floors is often more energy-efficient. Image: Omni Customs

1. Size Matters

It is no secret that a smaller house is usually more energy-efficient than a larger house. But it is perhaps not only the size of the house, but also how you use it. Consider two houses with the same square meters: one is 2,000 square feet on one level and the other is two levels, each with 1,000 square feet. Which is the more efficient house? The stacking of your square meters is almost always more energy-efficient than an extended space, which costs more for heat and power.

Consider how much space you need and how it can be configured for energy saving. If you get everything you want in a smaller, more compact footprint, it will be more sustainable in the long run.

2. Think passively

Your mother-in-law can be passively aggressive, but an energy-efficient house must simply be passive. Passive design means creating a house that can essentially take care of itself. If your house is designed to absorb the most sunlight in winter, you can spend less on heating. The same house can offer shadows to draw against the hot summer sun or windows that are located for a cool breeze. Think of the ways in which you can reduce the energy consumption of your home by simply showing where it is on your plot or layout.

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Modern house with landscaping

Think of shade trees to keep your house cool. Image: 186 Lighting Design

3. Smart Landscaping

When you talk about landscape architecture for sustainability, you usually talk about plants and grass that naturally perform well in the climate of your home. It is undoubtedly a great way to save money on water and energy, but you can also use landscaping for even more sneaky sustainability. Simply plant trees to provide your home with natural shade and coverage helps you save on energy costs. Choose a deciduous leaf for a warmer climate and you do not need to boost your air conditioning. Be sure to plant trees where they block the sun in the summer, but let the sun keep your house warmer in the winter.

4. Reclaim and Recycle

Building a house is not always the most environmentally friendly way to get a home. Even if you design for a sustainable space, having new materials requires a lot of energy to produce and deliver new materials on your building plot. By thinking about how you use different materials, you can reduce the environmental impact. If you choose materials that are recycled or reclaimed from other projects, you reduce your environmental impact while giving every inch of your home more character. You can contact local builders, search online advertisements and even view demo projects to see if you can find solid materials with life still in them. If that is not the case, choose materials that are made from recycled goods when your contractors offer the option. Your ecological footprint will thank you for it.

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Living room with large windows

Choose natural light wherever possible. Image: Art of architecture

5. Allow the light to enter

Indoor lighting can certainly relieve you when it comes to energy costs. In addition to a hefty electricity bill, you also have to buy and replace the bulbs. Instead, ask your architect to design your home for optimal natural lighting. It is not just a matter of installing windows, but using the orientation of your home to ensure that you get more light without sacrificing heat or cooling.

You can also sneak into sustainability by choosing LED luminaires and lamps. Do not worry about sacrificing ambience: LED lamps from new schools can throw a natural, warm light. They will be more expensive in the front but will last much longer than traditional light bulbs. Moreover, they are cheaper to use because they consume less electricity.

6. Domotics

Making your home a smart home may seem an unnecessary expense. If your goal is a more efficient space, you may want to reconsider the role of technology. Home automation puts some of your energy-saving processes on autopilot. The result? A more efficient home that adjusts if necessary. A smart thermostat can adjust the temperature based on when you spend time at home. Smart blinds can close themselves to block the hot sun in the middle of the day. Home automation is not just about convenience. It can create a space that is hyper efficient and fits easily into your wallet.

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Light modern kitchen

Use organization for smaller, smarter spaces. Image: Tim Moss

7. Organizational solutions

An organized house means that everything has a place. And if everything has a place, you can use less space to store your stuff. Smart organization solutions enable you to reduce the size of your home and storage space, so that you have less environmental impact. Whether it is about installing outlets in some of your most used cupboards and drawers or building boards in tight corners, think of the organization from a sustainability point of view. Shelves, cupboards, attic rooms and cupboards can be re-adjusted so that they take up less space and store more items for a more efficient home.

When designing a more sustainable home, it is important to think about how you live in space. Solar panels and energy-efficient appliances are great, but the daily durability can come from a smaller bedroom or better kitchen windows. By working with your architect, you can design a space that is beautiful, functional and energy efficient.

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