As the impacts of climate change are felt around the world, there is an increasing concern that we may soon be reaching a tipping point in the Earth’s energy balance.
Sustainable living and maintaining the natural balance of the environment has suddenly become a matter of great importance to the world at large. The coming decade will see a lot of emphasis onSustainable Architecture, with governments everywhere pushing for energy-efficient ‘green’ buildings.
At present, it is estimated that a staggering 30 percent of solid wastes in landfills have originated from the construction industry. Buildings are investments that last for decades. If the construction industry can reduce its carbon footprint, we can lock in significant savings regarding resources like power for the generations to come. Green buildings can go a long way toward maintaining the status quo in the environment, and energy efficiency is the key to going green!
What can we do asHome Ownersto build energy-efficient homes? Powering up by harnessing solar energy is a great way to start. Solar energy is renewable and abundant and is one of the cleanest energy sources available. Statistics have it that the energy radiated by the sun in one hour on a sunny day can meet the world’s energy needs for a whole year! While methods of harnessing this incredible amount of energy were not efficient enough until recent times, the underlying technology has now been improved a great deal, making this a very viable alternative energy source.
Passive Solar Designinvolves the intelligent use of the building structure to capture sunlight and store heat for use in cold countries. By increasing the window area on the south side of the house, primarily through the addition of clerestory windows, your home can save up to 25 percent of conventional heating fuel. Building a thermal wall on the south is another good idea to absorb and store solar heat which can be used for passive energy. Additionally, windows that are positioned to capture sunlight and natural breezes can reduce the need to pay for heating and lighting, thus conserving energy.
Solar Panelson the rooftop use photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight directly into electricity which can be used from the utility grid. Innovative technology that uses removable solar panels, solar roofs or solar shingles in building architecture is also available. Many homeowners shy away from installing solar panels because of the higher initial costs, without realizing that the money saved in the long run is well worth the investment…especially with the exponential increase in home energy costs!
Research on new technologies is also underway, withSolar Bricks and Solar Windowsjust a few of the aesthetically viable options to capture and convert solar energy in environmentally responsible buildings. The latest innovations in the solar energy field, these new solar cell solutions cleverly combine form and function. These bricks and windows are integrated into the building architecture, and are affordable and attractive as well, unlike the ungainly solar roof panels.
Solar energy is no longer confined to rooftops.Solar Lightsare increasingly being used in outdoor lighting, for roads, driveways, and gardens. These LED lights are connected to solar batteries that get charged during the daytime and can operate the illumination at night. These lights are often connected to timers that automatically turn the battery on at night.
Solar Water Heatersoffer significant cost savings over conventional water geysers and offer up to 30 percent more energy efficiency. The water tank has a solar collector that harnesses the heat from the sun to heat the water. Solar geysers are usually paired with a backup electric water heater for rainy days or when the sun’s heat is inadequate. Besides its use in homes and offices, solar energy can also be used to heat swimming pools.
During the summer, when your attic is not well ventilated, temperatures can rise considerably and make your home uncomfortably hot.Solar Atticvents offer a low-cost solution and work on solar energy to run attic fans that can cool down the attic. When warm air is pushed out through the vents, fresh air is drawn in from outdoors, and the house is cooled down….an energy efficient form of natural air-conditioning.
If you are looking at building an energy efficient home, then you must plan well ahead. Going green is all about respecting the environment we live in, finding innovative solutions for age-old problems. Intelligent layout design and energy planning can make a whole world of difference to your utility bills and can help to reduce your negative ecological impact. Try building green – our planet will thank you for it!