Sustainable Housing Melbourne

Keeping a lid on the energy bills!

Energy Efficiency for Renovations and Extensions in Melbourne.

Sustainable housing in Melbourne is on the rise due to increases in property values and enhancements in our historic suburbs. Melbournians are improving their homes in high numbers. The benefits of sustainable housing are abundant with lower energy bills as well as a comfortable and light filled lifestyle making living in the world’s most liveable city more enjoyable.

Traditionally, the older housing stock has some inherent energy efficiency problems that should be addressed in any good renovation or extension.  Older homes average a one star energy rating as opposed to the mandatory six star energy ratings for proposed new homes. General layout, size and the sustainable performance of the house are the most critical factors that generally need rectification as part of any renovation/extension.  A good design technique is to link these factors together.

Insulation is a key component of sustainable housing design. Older houses also have other energy inefficiencies, such as poor draft control and a lack of thermal mass on ground floors. Often older dwellings do not contain the levels required to ensure good performance and lower energy bills.

House Design Solutions are design and construct experts with a keen interest in sustainable housing in Melbourne. We encourage efficient energy use in housing in a multitude of ways. For example, we focus on ensuring good, well protected north light in to what should be an open plan living space flowing into the outdoor living area. Minimising west and south windows where possible helps limit unwanted heat and cold. A good designer should identify whether the proposed finished house will be inherently a cold/dark house or a warm/hot house. Understanding these subtleties is the key to good professional design and construct expertise.

An important focus when planning sustainable housing should be on active measures (attached systems). When designed well, passive designs should be almost cost free and paying for itself from day one. Active measures like solar panels and water tanks cost money to begin but are essential components of long term sustainability.

Good design practice is to analyse the projected energy efficient performance of the proposed house well before it is built. In the planning stages, decide what elements are worth the financial investment, and how best they can add value to the proposed home and reduce the energy bills. When implemented effectively these elements pay for themselves sooner, contributing to a more comfortable lifestyle making the home owner winners.

Good design practice should also question home owners on how they work and live. For example, if they work from home and are present during the day then solar power generation becomes a more worthwhile consideration. Even the orientation of the power generating cells should be dependent on what times of day the house will be occupied. Solar boosted hot water is another consideration and should also depend on whether power generation is proposed. Importantly, access to good unobstructed sunlight plays a pivotal role on whether these options are worthwhile. Water tanks were a must a few years ago during the drought years and may well return to vogue if nature turns off its tap again. At House Design Solutions we feel that although worthwhile if you can afford it, the truth is, that water in Melbourne is very cheap. For this reason large investments in water harvesting systems might be money better spent elsewhere both from an environmental point of view as well as simple economics.

Any system is only sustainable for owners if it is good value for money. The government has ramped up power prices making energy savings paramount to budget considerations. Where there is good advice, clever design and construction owners can save thousands!

A well-designed and orientated home renovation or extension is free if you have the right design and construct experts advising you. Well thought-out energy saving systems attached to your renovation will cost a little in the short term but save you money in the long run. Sustainable design features should be used cleverly to correct the particular shortcomings of the house in question due to its age. Getting the right design and construction expertise will result in your living environment being healthier, happier and more complimentary to your lifestyle. If you’re interested in learning more about sustainable housing in Melbourne and transforming your home in an energy efficient living space, call House Design Solutions, the sustainable housing in Melbourne experts, today on 03 9690 0010.

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