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Designing Energy Efficient Alterations and Additions to your home

When you are creating additions to your home, it is a great time to look at the energy efficiency of the building. While you are planning the improvements, plan to make these as effective as possible to improve its energy performance. The result will be lower costs and much more comfortable living.

A National Energy Efficient Building Project publication which assists in this process is ‘A seven point check list for home owners –  Aiming for best practice – energy efficient alterations and additions to existing homes.

The first point in the checklist is to Understand a house is an energy using system. This point focuses on the fact that a house contains many types of equipment that use a great deal of energy. Refrigeration, heating and cooling all need to be considered. Energy efficiency means that there is a minimal waste of energy.

Point 2 is to Understand the main routes to energy efficiency. It stands to reason that less energy is needed in an energy efficient house. Such elements as insulation, blocking off air leaks, controlling the access of sun and choosing the appropriate size of windows, are all issues.  Brio has many designs and styles of exterior folding systems for you to open and close to allow more sunlight and warmth into the house in the winter, and cool, fresh air into the house on summer evenings. Brio has a pleated insect screen which has been designed to be used with folding doors or sliding doors, and allows you to leave the doors open on a hot night, without pesky insects intruding into your home.

The design of your extension or alteration will greatly affect your energy efficiency. Window positioning is a vital consideration, as well as ensuring you are taking account of the position of the sun to reduce heating and cooling costs. Eaves, awnings and verandahs are also great ways of protecting the house against the hot summer sun.

A whole house energy assessment will mean you need to do lots of research and perhaps even appoint a professional to assist with this. For example, maybe your electrician can change your halogen down-lights with energy efficient LEDs.

When you Know the roles of those involved with the alteration, you can call on each person to assist in the energy efficiency agenda. For instance, the electrician then knows that the insulation that was removed for work on the wiring, needs to be put back in place. Or, the carpenter installing the exterior folding doors will then be aware that there cannot be any gaps to allow cold air in, when installing the doors.

Choose energy efficient products and make sure that they are used. One of the suggestions here is to choose a cool roof – that is, one with a light colour – if you are in a hot climate.

One terrific idea is to get an independent check on the alteration, with an energy efficiency focus. This is different to the state-required structural and safety inspections. So, for example, have the wall insulation checked prior to the plasterboard going on. The insulation should be the correct grade, and installed correctly, with out any gaps.