Nowadays, an energy-efficient building is considered more of a necessity than a luxury for the super wealthy. With the ability to lower costs in the long run and keep occupants healthy and comfortable, little justification is needed for this all-green trend. This is important, not least because Australians are among the highest per capita greenhouse gas polluters in the world. While designing a green building from scratch is always the better option, there are a number of ways in which you can create a more sustainable space with the right upgrades.
From adding simple weather stripping to adopting a thermally active design, our blog this week dives into some of the best ways to create energy-efficient buildings, in both the commercial and residential sector. Continue reading to discover which upgrades can make the biggest difference!
Energy-efficiency upgrades for residential buildings
Upgrade old appliances to more energy-efficient models
If you’re serious about converting your property into a greener space, the first thing(s) that needs to go is your outdated line of appliances. From clunky air-conditioners to ancient coffeemakers, upgrading these devices to the newer energy-saving models available is likely to make a huge difference to your energy consumption.
With regard to your heating and cooling systems, specifically, devices that are older than 15 years are definitely eating away at your bills. Given that technology in this area has advanced rapidly over the last few years, even the more affordable models on today’s market are more efficient than the high-end devices of the past.
Insulate energy-efficient buildings with affordable fixtures
Another feature that’s an essential part of an energy-efficient building is a high level of insulation. While making upgrades to improve this factor might sound like an expensive exercise, in reality, this can be achieved with a few affordable fixtures.
In this regard, adding weather stripping or caulking around windows and doors will ensure that no heating or cooling needlessly escapes your building. In addition to this, adding wooden frames to your windows will also prove effective in insulating specific rooms in your property.
While these are slightly more expensive compared to aluminium or vinyl designs, they prove incomparable when it comes to maintaining energy efficiency.
Seal forced-air heating and cooling ducts for greater efficiency
Given that many buildings feature forced air heating and cooling systems, it’s important to ensure that leaks do not eat into your energy savings. According to the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States, roughly one-fifth of air escapes through leaks in these devices. By preventing this from happening, building owners can ensure that they don’t lose out on savings and efficiency.
In order to maintain an energy-efficient building, therefore, using duct sealant to prevent and repair leaks in visible ducts is crucial.
Leverage a programmable thermostat for smarter energy use
Programmable thermostats allow you to control the heating and cooling needs in your building in an entirely efficient manner. In essence, these devices allow you to optimise climate control in a way that provides comfort without driving electricity usage up.
These thermostats can be controlled in such a way that heating and cooling shuts off after a certain time. They also automatically adjust themselves, after programming, in order to maintain an energy-efficient building.
Energy efficiency upgrades for commercial buildings
Install a heat recovery system for better ventilation
Heat recovery systems, specifically those that leverage heat pumps at the heart of design, are another exceptionally efficient way of maintaining efficiency. These solutions are particularly effective in large buildings where ventilation is often a key concern.
Beyond ensuring that internal spaces are well ventilated, these systems also extract heat from the air leaving the building and reuse it for internal heating through the maintenance of separate air streams.
This reduces the heating load in commercial buildings and ensures that not a unit of energy is wasted in the ventilation process. Overall, this optimises energy consumption in a way that only the electricity that is required is being used - for heating purposes, at least.
Upgrade to a thermally active building system to reduce heat load
If you’re the proud owner of a multi-storey building, it’s possible that you’ve looked for a way in which you can reduce consumption. If this is the case, upgrading to a thermally active building structure is likely to be a smart move.
While this system may require somewhat of an investment at the outset, they prove their worth almost immediately by reducing the heat and cooling load of a building. This means that while this system doesn’t replace the need for a comprehensive HVAC system, it reduces the energy consumption of these devices.
This is because a thermally active building relies on its concrete mass to produce hydronic heating and cooling. This is done through the use of embedded pipes, which carry hot and cold water that’s circulating constantly. What happens here is that the ceiling, floor, and walls of a building then contribute to the base heating/cooling as required.
Collectively, this design is known as a Thermally Active Building System (TABS).
Creating an energy-efficient building with the right upgrades is now easier than ever. As demonstrated by the tips set out above, affordability, comfort, or even spatial design are no longer factors that can be claimed by way of excuse, for not moving towards a more sustainable building.
Change your consumption patterns today for improved energy savings!