Power hungry air conditioning works double time, pumping up your bills.
Let’s get one thing clear: you need a good boat when you go out to the deep waters to sail or fish. Go on a leaky boat and you’re going to depend entirely on a bilge pump to stay afloat.
Like the boat, a poorly designed house is leaky. It’s hard to control the flow of heat in and out of the house. To keep you comfortable in your space, you rely on auxiliary cooling or heating appliances. You’re going to pay more money for double glazed windows or an additional insulation that would not have been required if sustainable design principles had been applied.
This is what Laura Robinson, the Sustainable Design Manager of Superdraft Pty. Ltd. in Australia calls these as band-aid solutions to poorly designed structures.
What’s the worst? Most people still think of air conditioners as good features of a home when they’re actually not.
“Don’t rely on traditional thinking. They are not set up for best practice or for your benefit. They are a band-aid, not a cure!” she said.
Imagine this. Every summer, a leaky and badly insulated house absorbs unnecessary heat outside. You turn on all your air conditioners to pump out the heat your home sucks in. Air conditioners, as we know it, are power-hungry appliances. Relying on it to stay cool during the summer will spike your electricity bills.
“Think about it. With increasing energy prices and changing weather conditions, sustainable homes are the best choice for us,” Laura said.
“Sustainable design is already available and affordable to everyone. A significant amount of money can actually be saved by investing in it,” she added.
In fact, research says that sustainably designed homes consume less than a quarter of the energy that non-sustainable homes use in the same climate.
It’s not because sustainable or passive designed structures don’t have air conditioners or heaters. Homes have it to keep you comfortable especially during extreme weather conditions. In passive designed homes, you don’t depend on it for everyday comfort.
Owning a sustainable home is the choice of the homeowner
The good news is you can own and live in a comfy, cost-efficient, and stunning home. You only need to find design and building professionals who know how to build using passive design—taking into consideration the local climate, the construction site, the building materials, and the method of construction.
The housing industry still follows the design that people want for their homes. If you communicate with your architect or your real estate agent about sustainable and energy efficient features of a home, they will give you options based on what you want.
“Matching a structure with the environment doesn’t cost anything. It’s our responsibility to make sure that your home fits your location and your lifestyle,” Laura said.
She suggests that home buyers or clients of design firms ask questions related to the sustainability and energy efficiency of a structure.
Answers to questions like “how hot can this house be in the summer?” or “does the house have energy saving features I should know?” can tell you how energy-efficient the structure can be.
Laura and the rest of Superdraft’s Gold Coast architects remind homeowners in all countries to think of the operational costs of a home other than it’s initial cost.
“Change will only come when it is an accepted fact that sustainable design is worth the investment of time and money,” Laura says. ∎
Charlene Ara Gonzales is a design writer from Superdraft Pty. Ltd. She writes about proper design and how it improve lives and leverage businesses. Being a part of the Superdraft team, she had an avenue to write about issues that matter, such as sustainability. Follow Superdraft on Facebook and Instagram