May 2023

10 benefits of an energy efficient home

Discover the incredible value of energy efficient homes and how they can transform your living experience.

This image shows a sunny kitchen and window, one of the benefits of an energy efficient home.

We’re passionate about the value of energy efficient homes because they simply offer so much value to the homeowner. Here in Australia, we have a history of quite inefficient, uncomfortable and unhealthy houses – so here’s a list of our top 10 favourite positive flow-on effects when you build an energy efficient home.

What is an energy efficient home? Here we would consider a few factors:

  • The energy efficiency of the house, as measured by the star rating
  • The size of the home, as this will drive total energy use, and
  • The climate the house located in. In colder climates with extremes, such as Canberra and Melbourne, it can be harder to build an efficient, comfortable house than in warmer climates such as Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.

So as a sweeping generalisation, if your home is over 8 stars in energy-efficiency and under 235m2 (that’s the average new home size in Australia) – then we’d say you’re definitely building an energy efficient home!

1. Reduced electricity bills

Heating and cooling your home are the biggest part of your energy bill and make up on average 40% of the cost. When you add on solar and behaviour change, a well-designed 7-star home will come close to having zero bills for the life of the home – and who doesn’t want that!

2. Thermal comfort 

Comfort is something we don’t talk about enough with our homes here in Australia. We’ve all had that experience of renting a house that is always too cold, or too hot. Sometimes clients tell us they can’t imagine what it might be like to have a comfortable house, as they have never experienced living in one! Empirically, it means that your home stays within the optimal human temperature range of 18-22 degrees Celsius most of the time (this temperature range might vary slightly depending on the climate you are used to and your personal comfort levels). But a comfortable house is so much more.

A comfortable house is a wonderful thing. For us, comfort means that delicious feeling when you arrive home on a frosty winters evening to a house that has is toasty warm from receiving sunlight all day. It’s the hygge feeling of being cosy and comfortable, or lying in the winter sun when you know it’s frosty outside.

3. A smaller carbon footprint*

The more efficient your home, the less energy you will need to power your home – no matter what energy source you use to power your home. Reducing the amount of power, you consume from the grid will directly reduce the amount of fossil-fuels needed to power your home. Reduced energy demand also means you have an increased ability to power your house with solar – or reduce the amount of solar you need. All of these will increase the sustainability of your home, and we think, move your home towards becoming a climate solution.

*We would caveat this benefit by noting that this is dependent on the size of your home. A 300m2 home will require twice the amount of heating and cooling energy of a 150m2 home – significantly increasing energy bills and carbon footprint.

4. Improved air-quality

Indoor air quality has a huge impact on health, particularly for the young, old, and anyone with underlying respiratory conditions. Energy efficient homes generally have much higher indoor air-quality, particularly those that:

  • Pay attention to building details, including use of water-permeable wall wraps to prevent moisture build up
  • Use high-quality windows to prevent condensation on windows or frames

These two points are important as they will prevent mould from forming inside the building envelope. Mould is a key cause of more quality indoor air, and can trigger respiratory and health issues.
 

  • Include heat-recovery ventilation systems together with high airtightness.

This last point is crucial to preventing external pollutants entering the home – including from the underfloor or ceiling cavities. Fresh air circulation and filtration systems ensure a constant supply of clean air, reducing the presence of allergens, pollutants, and toxins. It also ensures that the air inside the home stays fresh.

Having a healthy home is great peace of mind, as you know you’re looking after yourself and your family, and also reduces the risk of respiratory issues down the track.

5. Durability – increasing your home’s longevity

Quality construction practices, moisture control, and superior insulation, commonly found in energy efficient homes, protect the building structure from potential damage, such as mould growth and structural degradation. This ensures that the home remains in excellent condition for the long term, reducing maintenance and repair costs.

6. Increasing property value

Building an energy-efficient home can significantly increase its value and appeal to potential buyers. Higher energy efficiency ratings add credibility and demonstrate the home’s superior performance and reduced operating costs, making it an attractive investment for homeowners and investors alike.

Recent studies show that more sustainable and energy efficient homes:

  • receive 8.7 per cent more online views,
  • sold about 4 per cent faster.
  • Sold for a premium of 9.4–24% higher than comparable homes

7. Noise reduction

When we first replaced our single-glazed, aluminium windows with double-glazed uPVC, this is the one thing that caught us by surprise. Energy-efficient homes, with their focus on double-glazing, insulation, and air sealing, provide a quieter living environment. They minimise external noise infiltration, which is especially beneficial for homes located in busy urban areas or near noisy roadways.

8. Improved health and well-being

Energy-efficient homes contribute to better health and well-being. With improved indoor air quality, reduced exposure to harmful pollutants, and a comfortable living environment, occupants experience fewer respiratory issues, allergies, and other health-related problems.

One study in Victoria measured the impact of small energy efficiency upgrades to existing homes on occupant health, and found that the participating households with energy interventions saved $887 per person on healthcare costs over the winter period.

Research internationally has also found that chronic thermal discomfort and fuel poverty have negative mental health impacts (anxiety, stress, and depression) – building energy efficient homes that are close to bill-free can really lighten mental loads.

9. Future-proofing

Like purchasing a product with a lifetime guarantee, building an energy-efficient home is a forward-thinking investment. As energy costs continue to rise and environmental concerns grow, energy efficiency will become increasingly important. By building a home that exceeds current standards, homeowners future-proof their investment, ensuring its relevance and value in the years to come.

10. Resilience to extreme weather events and a changing climate

Building an energy-efficient home provides significant benefits in terms of resilience against extreme weather events and climate extremes. With climate change leading to more frequent and severe weather events, such as heatwaves, storms, floods and fires, having a home that can withstand these challenges is crucial.

Energy efficient homes are more resilient for a few key reasons:

  • They maintain comfortable temperatures better during heatwaves and fires (even without power)
  • They maintain air-quality better during bushfires and floods, particularly when they have high airtightness combined with a heat-recovery ventilation system.

 

That’s our list! Building a more energy-efficient home really is a win-win scenario. Let us know if we have forgotten anything, or reach out if you’d like help to make your design more energy efficient.

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