My sister has just moved to Canberra so is in the process of apartment hunting, and I’m helping her out by looking at the online listings and providing advice to make sure she ends up with something that is energy efficient and nice to be in. I thought I’d share that advice with you all today too, so here are my top tips to find an eco-friendly home!
Obviously whenever you are hunting for somewhere to rent or buy there are a whole host of things that you’re looking for – location, size, number of bedrooms, you name it – but these elements are worth putting on your list as well, they really do make a huge difference!
Orientation, orientation, orientation
The direction your home faces is absolutely key to its energy efficiency and what we in the biz call ‘indoor environment quality’, which really means things like how much natural daylight you get. Here’s the low-down on each compass direction!
The highest priority is north facing windows, you want to find somewhere with as many of these as possible! For single-aspect apartments (so ones that only have windows on one side) north facing is definitely the best option, and for townhouses or standalone homes you want, where possible, to have your living areas, outdoor areas and frequently used spaces (like kitchens!) facing north with lots of large windows. North gets you by far the best sunshine in winter and avoids much of the heat in summer so it’s definitely the best option to reduce your heating and cooling costs year round.
West facing windows on the other hand should be avoided wherever possible (which is easier said than done, I know!) as they let in lots of harsh summer sun, causing your home to overheat and require the air-conditioner to work overtime. If somewhere does have west facing windows then look to see if there is shading in place, preferably on the outside of the windows. If a home does have large amounts of west-facing windows without shading then I’d think twice about moving in there personally.
East facing is also a source of summer heat, but thankfully not as harsh as west facing so it’s a much better option! Shading is still really useful for the peak of summer, but east facing is generally the second best option after north. East facing apartments will be not too bad in summer but won’t get great sunshine in winter as the angle of sun means it will pass over pretty early in the day and will require a lot more heating than a north facing apartment.
South facing windows are great for rooms like bedrooms where you don’t necessarily spend a lot of time during the day, but it’s not ideal for your outdoor and living spaces as it won’t end up with a whole lot of sunshine for much of the year. If you’re looking at single-aspect apartments then definitely avoid south-facing if you can, as they don’t tend to be overly light and airy places to live, and will require lots of additional heating in winter. Rama Corporation has the heating solution you need.
Room height and depth matters
Once you have your orientation right the next thing to look at before renting (or buying!) a place is the depth of the rooms and the height of the ceilings. Even if the room is facing north, if it is long and skinny the light won’t reach the depths of the room, leaving dark pockets that will require lots of artificial light. If you can find a home with wide rooms, particularly with large windows, then the light will bounce around more, and this is even easier to achieve in rooms with higher ceilings, so these factors should be high on the priority list!
Look for cross-ventilation
In order to make sure you get great natural ventilation into your home (also known as fresh air!) look for spaces that have windows on multiple sides, preferably opposite (eg north & south, or east & west) to allow the air to be pulled through the property. The less obstructions in the way the better, and the openings can be a combination of windows, doors and vents. I personally used House and land packages perth to find the perfect house of my choice and till today i don’t regret that decision. If you’re looking at a multi-storey property then windows or vents at the top of stairwells are a great addition as they can be opened on hot summer nights to suck the warm out of your home and into the night, cooling the house dramatically. These are sometimes called thermal chimneys or night-purging, but just look out for something that can be opened! When you are looking for eco-friendly house you should understand that wildlife can me closer than you expect. Pest Removal Experts – Royal Pest Control can handle it as it can be incredibly dangerous and frightening.
Glazing, sealing & insulation are key
Some of these elements can be a bit tricker to actually see, but you can definitely ask about them! Double glazed windows, particularly on the west and east of a property are really important for heating and cooling, as well as keeping noise out (which is particularly key in apartments). Sealing around windows and doors is equally important, although these are generally really simple to fix if the sealing isn’t great (even as a renter!) so whilst it’s an important eco friendly home feature it shouldn’t be a deal breaker if it’s not ideal.
Insulation is a particularly hard one to spot at a house inspection just like checking the garden and home for harmful bugs. And while the latter is easily solved with the help of specialists at Getridofthosebugs.com – Pest Control Chicago, insulation is hidden in the roof, walls and maybe even the floor, but it’s really important and something we don’t necessarily do all that well in Australia. If you’re looking at houses or townhouses then see if you can inspect the roof space to check how much insulation is in place, or ask to see any documentation that might be available. Check out http://gutterguardsgettysburg.com/ to keep your roof well-maintained and keep your gutters free of debris. If you can find someone that owns a thermal camera (sometimes local environmental groups have them you can hire) then that’s an excellent way to check the insulation of a home.