Do you know which of your appliances use the most electricity? With the rising cost of electricity, understanding how much energy your home consumes is a powerful tool. Using electricity wisely is the cornerstone of green living. It makes as much sense for your wallet as it does for the environment.
You wouldn’t be able to live a comfortable, modern life without your appliances. They account for a significant part of your electricity bill. Find out which of the devices in your home use the most electricity and how you can reduce the amount of power they use every month without losing out on the convenience they offer.
It shouldn’t surprise you to find this popular appliance at the top of the list. Big TVs are a symbol of wealth and it’s rare to find any home that doesn’t have a TV in the living room. But large sets and plasma screens in particular, are one of the most energy-hungry appliances you can own.
The larger the TV, the more energy it uses. So you can always cut down on your bills by investing in a smaller screen. That’s easier said than done. If you’re really not willing to sacrifice size for savings, consider opting for an LCD over a plasma screen. LCD screens are much cheaper to run. Keep this in mind if you’re considering buying a new set in the near future.
Another way to reduce the costs of running your TV is to switch it off at the wall when you’re not watching. Even in standby mode, electronics use small amounts of electricity. It may seem negligible but over time it adds a substantial amount to your electricity bill.
Fridges and Freezers
These appliances work all day, every day to keep your food fresh. They are hardly ever turned off and consequently they use a lot of energy. But there are a few simple tricks you can employ to help keep running costs to a minimum:
- Keep fridges and freezers away from heat sources such as your oven. They will have to work harder to maintain the right temperature for keeping food cold, and that uses energy.
- Make sure the seals are intact and avoid overloading them.
- Buy the right size for your needs. If you’re a small family, or just two people, it’s not necessary to have a large fridge.
- Don’t hold the door open for long periods. Letting cold air escape while you decide what to make for lunch will just waste energy.
- Increase the temperature in your fridge by 2°. It won’t make much difference to your food, but it will make a difference to your electricity bill.
Washing machines and dishwashers
Your life wouldn’t be the same without these handy appliances. Eliminating them from your life isn’t really an option but you can still reduce the amount of energy they consume if you use them differently. Here are some tips for living green while still enjoying the benefits of these machines:
- Skip the pre-rinse cycle for your clothes and your cutlery. Unless your items are really dirty there’s no need for a pre-rinse cycle.
- Wait until you have a full load. Once again, this applies to both. Don’t wash a few bits of dirty laundry or switch on the dishwasher when you only have a couple of dirty cups and saucers.
- Lower the temperature. Washing your clothes in cold water will still get them clean and it could save you a whopping 90% of the electricity your machine normally uses to get the job done. The same applies to your dishwasher. The water shouldn’t be cold, but you can use a cycle with a lower temperature to get the same results while cutting down on the power required.
Thankfully, in our warm climate you don’t have to rely on heaters to make your home comfortable all year round. But when winter rolls in, electricity bills tend to sky-rocket. What often makes this worse is the fact that our houses aren’t designed for the cold. And many heaters are not particularly energy-efficient.
Luckily there are simple things you can do to keep the chill at bay. They are often just as effective as and much cheaper than running a heater for several hours a day. So instead of flipping a switch, do this instead:
- Put on a jersey. It’s easier (and more cost effective) to warm yourself up, than trying to warm a whole room.
- Use hot water bottles. Fill the kettle and boil it once. You can make yourself a warm drink and fill up your hot water bottle with the rest. There couldn’t be a better way to keep cosy.
- Insulate your home. Arm yourself with some caulk and sealing strips and seek out the areas in your home where cold air creeps in. Window frames and door frames are a good place to start.
You may not realise it, but a tumble dryer can use more electricity than your fridge. Thankfully, our sunny climate means you only need to use your tumble dryer for emergencies. Hang your clothes up to dry outside in the fresh air and sunshine. It may take a little longer in the winter, but it’s completely free.
As much of 10 to 20% of your energy bill is spent on lighting up your home when the sun goes down. But energy saving light bulbs and LEDs can reduce that as they use up to 80% less electricity. They also last much longer than traditional bulbs. They may cost more than regular bulbs but the long term savings are worth it. And while it should be a habit by now, people still forget to turn off their lights when they leave the room. If you knew how much it would save you, you wouldn’t forget to turn off the lights.
This refers to all the little electronic goods in your home that feed on small amounts of electricity. The average home has about 30 – 40 such devices and includes items such as your computer, cell phones, tablets, cordless phones, printers, DVD players and decoders. Individually they draw very little power, especially in standby mode. But when you consider that at any time you have several plugged in, the costs can multiply.
If you want to reduce the steady drip of power from these devices, try this:
- Switch off and unplug. Stop letting the power drain by disconnecting the plug and see what a difference it will make to your bills.
- Use a switchable power strip. That way you can switch off only the devices you aren’t using without everything else losing power.
- Buy low standby products. They do exist, but you’ll need to ask about them or you won’t get them.
Overall, the big appliances count for around 13% of your total power bill. The ‘vampire devices’ make up about 10%. If you ever need to buy a new appliance, look out for one that has an excellent EnergyStar rating. That means it has been designed to use less energy while still delivering the results you want.
By implementing some of these tips you can reduce your electricity bills substantially over the course of a year. That money can be put to better use without you having to sacrifice any convenience. You may need to change some of your habits and consider a different approach, and if you do, the savings you’ll enjoy will make it all worthwhile.
If you want to take your energy savings to the next level, you may want to consider some more serious energy alternatives. These are the kinds of technologies you’ll find in eco-friendly homes. Green living is becoming more of a priority for South African home owners. Retrofitting an existing home is a possibility, and you’ll find more and more eco-friendly houses entering the mainstream.
Greener living and energy savings
Eco-friendly homes use new technology to reduce your reliance on the grid. As most of your energy bill comes from heating your home, this is a good place to start. Photovoltaic systems rely on solar panels and batteries to generate and store electricity for your home. If you understand your energy requirements you can start off with a smaller system to meet your needs and add on more panels as you require.
The idea of living off the grid is achievable. Most systems come with an automatic switch over that allows you to draw electricity from the grid if you need it. With the rising cost of electricity you’ll save even more money in the long term.
If you’re not ready to rely on solar for all your power needs you can still invest in a solar water heater. Hot water is essential for bathing, cooking and washing which is why it contributes so much to your power bill. A solar heater takes advantage of our sunny weather to ensure you always have hot water on tap. The energy used to heat the water is provided by the sun so you don’t have to pay for it. It’s a small step anyone can take on the journey to greener living.
Eco-friendly homes are better insulated. Double-glazed windows and insulated exterior walls help to keep the temperature inside your home even all year round. This means you’ll need to rely less on power guzzling heaters to make your home comfortable in winter, and energy-sapping air conditioners to keep cool in summer. Green living takes into account your comfort, as well as your impact on the environment.
And there’s much more to living green than just saving on your electricity bills. An eco-friendly home is one that saves on water too. With low flow shower heads, rainwater harvesting tanks and an eco-wise garden, there are plenty of ways for you to save this precious resource. Greener living benefits everyone, and the planet. As water and electricity become more and more expensive, living green will be a necessity and not just a fad.
Though you may not be ready to invest in an eco-friendly house, there are things you can do to start living green right now. Being aware of how your appliances consume energy is good start. There are lots of little things you can do to use energy more efficiently and save money. You could put that money towards getting a solar water heater which will help you save even more in the long run. It’s all a matter starting small and over time you can turn your traditional home into an eco-friendly home.
Is there really a need for double-glazed windows and doors in South African homes? Our weather can hardly be compared to that of colder climates where this is an essential feature. And yet, there are more benefits to installing this type of window and door in our homes than we might realise.
Such windows and doors are a popular feature on green homes. That’s because they contribute to the overall energy efficiency of a home. And with the rising cost of electricity, more home buyers are looking for features that reduce heating and cooling bills. Whether looking to buy a new home or thinking about retrofitting an existing home, here’s what we need to know about double-glazing.
What are double-glazed windows and doors?
It is simply a window or door made up of two layers of glass with a gap between them. This gap is usually filled with air, although in some cases it may be filled with Argon or Xenon gas. The two panes of glass are separated with an aluminium spacer and the unit is sealed with silicon. A secondary coating of silicon or bitumen is applied to ensure the glass is completely waterproof.
The air trapped between the two panes of glass acts as a layer of insulation. This makes it more difficult for the cold air outside to pass through the glass and into the home, and vice versa with warm air. This is what makes double-glazed windows and doors more energy efficient.
How energy efficient is double-glazed windows and doors?
Single-pane glass accounts for as much as 40% of the energy lost in a home. Double-glazed windows and doors reduce this figure by as much as 50%. In the winter, double-glazed windows and doors reduce and regulate thermal loss from the inside. While in the summer they prevent solar heat from entering our home from the outside. That means our home will be warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
The use of dehydrated air to fill the cavity between the two panes of glass is what makes these windows and doors so effective at retaining warmth. Heat is normally lost as warm air molecules move from the inside of a window pane to the outside, where it’s colder. Because the molecules of dehydrated air are less mobile than normal air molecules, the heat loss is a much slower process, the same, though in reverse, with cool air in the summer.
What are the other benefits of double-glazed windows and doors?
Not only do double-glazed windows and doors help save energy and cut down on heating and cooling bills—they have many other benefits worth mentioning such as:
- Reducing noise pollution: Double-glazing helps reduce the amount of noise that may enter our home from outside. This makes them ideal for homes located next to busy roads or even in windy areas. They also help soundproof our home from the inside out.
- Draught proofing: Double-glazed windows and doors are well-sealed and fitted which means that little air gets through. Even in areas with high wind, the all-round rubber seal stops any icy draughts from finding their way into the home.
- Reduced condensation: Because heat is reflected back into the room, and the inside pane is warmer, there’s less chance of condensation forming on double-glazed windows and doors. This means there’s less chance of mold and mildew developing in the bathroom or kitchen.
- Added security: Two panes of glass are much harder to break so double-glazed windows and doors act as deterrent to intruders. It’s not only the thickness of the window; it’s also the composition that makes it difficult to smash this type of window and door.
Double-glazed windows and doors let in just as much light as regular glass, with added benefits. Why would we want regular glass when we could have something that functions just the same, though makes our home safe, quieter and retains the interior temperature; warmth in winter and cooler in summer?
What to be aware of when installing double-glazing
There are a few things to bear in mind when considering double-glazing. While many green homes include them as a standard feature, retrofitting them requires some consideration. This is what to look out for:
- The right kind of window and door frame: Bear in mind that frames affect the insulation properties of double-glazing by up to 30%. It’s worth spending the money for high quality frames. Timber frames are a popular choice for their aesthetics. Timber requires some maintenance, and especially when double-glazing is fitted.However, aluminium frames require little maintenance. With these frames we need to consider the thermal break. This is a plastic or resin section in the centre of the aluminium joinery made from an insulating material such as uPVC or wood. This type of frame is less likely to attract condensation and will lose less heat than a standard aluminium frame.
- Low-emissivity (low-E) glass: It’s worth ensuring that the double-glazed windows and doors use this kind of glass because it cuts heat or cooling loss by about 10% more than those with regular glass.
- Multiple layers that are well sealed: It is essential that the double-glazing is perfectly sealed. This way they will keep out draughts, moisture and noise effectively. Also ensure that the joint between the frame and the window is well sealed.
- Spacers made from plastic or stainless steel: This refers to the spacers used to separate the two panes of glass in the window or door. When made from plastic or stainless steel (as opposed to aluminium) they aid in reducing heat or cooling loss and condensation at the glass edge.
- Inert gas for the filling: Gases such as Argon or Xenon make better insulators. When used for the gap between two glass panes in a double-glazed window and door they reduce heat and cooling loss by an extra 3%. It may not seem like much but when it adds to saving energy—every little bit counts.
How much does double-glazing cost?
Double-glazed windows and doors are considerably more expensive than regular, single-paned glass. The final cost depends entirely on the requirements. How many windows and doors are required? What are the sizes? These are factors influencing the price when looking at the cost of double-glazing.
Why double-glazing works best in conjunction with other insulation methods
On their own double-glazed windows and doors go a long way to reducing the overall energy consumption. The expense of fitting double-glazing to an existing home would not be as effective if done in isolation. It needs to be considered in conjunction with the other insulation, like insulating exterior walls, floors and ceilings. Comprehensive insulation might not be practical or cost-effective. These points need to be considered as a whole.
In green homes they form part of the methods used to keep energy costs low. This is one part of comprehensive insulation to reduce electricity usage, whether drawn from the grid or from photo-voltaic solar panels. In green homes, they complement the floor, ceiling, water pipe and wall insulation. And when combined with the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system, the result is a home with a perfectly maintained indoor temperature throughout the year. The savings on [the water and] energy bills in a green smart home are momentous thanks to this holistic approach.
But when retrofitting an existing home there are some possibilities to improve insulation along with fitting double-glazing. For example:
- Check for draughts and seal them up: It’s a simple matter of looking around the home and making a note of the areas where air leaks in or out. Around windows and under doors is a good place to start. Use sealing strips and caulk to seal any gaps.The idea is to stop warm air from escaping and cold air from entering, and vice versa, so best is to scrutinise every frame, window and door. Even sealing up these little gaps helps to make a home comfortable in summer and winter.
- Insulating the ceiling: lots of heat escapes through the roof so it’s worth adding insulation to this vulnerable area. There are many different kinds of insulating materials to choose from. However, opt for a green alternative rather than the traditional fibre-glass or paper options. Not only is it kinder to the environment, it’s also healthier for the whole family.One such material, Isotherm ticks all the boxes. It’s made from recycled plastic bottles and can be recycled again itself. It is dust and water resistant, non-flammable, non-toxic and lasts longer than many other insulators.
- Use thicker curtaining: We usually switch out the light summer duvet for something thicker and warmer in winter, and the same applies to glass windows and doors. Thick curtains will add an extra layer of protection from the cold and stop draughts from getting into the homeUsing this option for windows and doors contains the costs of adding double-glazing everywhere. That way a home is better insulated and the double-glazing installed is effective.
- Close internal doors: When not using a room, rather keep the door closed. Limiting the airflow within a home goes a long way in keeping the heat and/or cold in and cuts down on electricity usage. Keep in mind that when a room is not in use, it is advisable to balance the electricity spending with maintaining the temperature.Bathrooms are particularly chilly in the winter because they’re filled with tiles that don’t retain heat very well. Keeping the bathroom door closed in winter stops the cold air from seeping out and affecting all heating efforts, and vice versa in summer.
Keeping in mind, when deciding whether it’s worth investing in double-glazing, due to the cost, considering the saving such an investment brings about to heat or cool down our home, and that over the course of their lifespan they pay for themselves many times over. And when implementing comprehensive insulation, further savings are achieved, which recoups the initial investment faster.
A further point is the different experience in summer when the home becomes a cool and quiet haven, or when in winter it is a warm and quiet haven. Not many renovations reduce electricity costs while providing the benefits that double-glazing does. They’ll also add to the value of our property when selling it on. Well worth the extra expense, double-glazing is an excellent investment.
A green smart home is one that combines both eco-friendly features and technologies with smart home technologies. The concept is still new to the South African market, and offers various benefits for savvy homebuyers. Not only is a green smart home energy efficient and cost-effective, the addition of a smart home technology system makes it easy to monitor and efficiently manage the green smart home feature’s resource consumption to maximise the monthly savings.
With only a few of these homes on the market, here are some cost-effective features making them sound investments.
We would expect an eco-friendly home to be fitted with photovoltaic solar panels. Energy-efficiency is at the top of the list when shopping for a green home. It’s not essential for all of our power needs to be provided for by a photovoltaic solar system. Research concluded that a grid-tied system is the most practical solution. A grid-tied system provides the homeowner with a balance of energy-efficiency and energy-reliability.
Although the technology has come a long way, photovoltaic systems are still pricey. To install a fully off-the-grid system would require a hefty initial investment. That’s partly due to the fact that we would need to add either more photovoltaic panels or more batteries. Either of these require installation space. Batteries are used to store the power generated by the panels during the day to power the home at night. And also power the home when the sun is blocked out for extended periods. It’s these additional photovoltaic and specialised batteries that are pricey.
A grid-tied system is recommended. During the day, the photovoltaic solar panels provide free electricity. Once the sun sets, the system automatically switches over to the backup batteries. When the batteries reach the lower threshold, the system, again automatically switches over to the municipal supply. To make provision for when tiered electricity tariffs are introduced, the system design especially caters for using the home’s own energy during peak periods – approx. 05h00 to 08h00 and 17h30 to 19h30, so we enjoy an uninterrupted supply of power, for free, or at the lowest service provider tiered prices. Furthermore, another design feature is to feedback into the grid the excess self-generated power.
Combining a heat pump and the linked-loop hotwater system, enables you to have hot water throughout the home immediately on tap. Heat pumps are remarkably efficient. They require very little energy to heat up the water in the tank. Producing hot water is a large part of the electricity consumption. Using an alternative, such as a heat pump dramatically reduces energy consumption and thus the home’s monthly running costs.
Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling
Traditional homes rely on energy-hungry appliances to maintain the temperature inside the home at a comfortable level. In winter we drag out heaters and electric blankets while in summer we switch on air-conditioners to provide relief from the soaring temperatures. Or possibly use air-conditioners all year round. Installing a Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system consists of a network of pipes which is used to take hot or cold water to maintain desired temperatures. [The heat pump also produces the cold water.]
We’re able to monitor and manage the system by setting a comfortable temperature, as and when required.. Each of the home’s zone’s temperature is individually adjustable to provide their required temperature and comfort. The system is energy-efficient and effective. In winter, it’s possible to walk barefoot on the warm tiles. This simply isn’t possible in a traditional home without resorting to expensive underfloor heating or air-conditioning that uses a significant amount of electricity.
Once again, this demonstrates luxurious green living, which focusses on comfort while using resource efficiently, thereby reducing monthly running costs. Eco-friendly homes are designed to use resources efficiently. Such homes are more expensive to purchase, though over the long-term, the benefit of momentous monthly savings on power make green smart homes sound investments. This is particularly attractive when considering that prices for these basic services will continue to rise.
With South Africa currently experiencing its worst drought in 23 years, saving water ia a priority. Having access to fresh, clean water is a large part of what makes our modern lives comfortable. Take a moment to consider how many different ways we use water in our home every day; for drinking, cooking, bathing and cleaning.
Eco-friendly homes use a variety of methods to reduce water consumption. This includes the use of low-flow shower heads and taps to rainwater harvesting used to flush toilets, for the washing machine, and garden irrigation. These features improve comfort or convenience.
The rainwater harvesting tanks cab be installed underground so that it doesn’t take up valuable space. The tank is well-constructed and not prone to damage or leaking. The roof gutters and slab downpipes channel water to the tank. The design maximises the collection and storing of rainfall in the area. This is an example of how eco-friendly homes work with the environment.
The tank itself requires almost no maintenance as it is equipped with self-cleaning filters. The rainwater management system is connected to the municipal supply to ensure a constant supply of water. The rainwater management system switches over automatically, from rainwater to municipal water and vice versa..
It’s always a good idea to increase water savings by completing your home with a water-wise garden. A water-wise garden is one that uses indigenous plants that are accustomed to local weather conditions. These native plants are able to withstand dry periods and local insects as opposed to foreign plants. The garden has almost no lawn, instead it contains well designed walkways, reducing the amount of water needed to maintain the garden. Aforementioned makes for a garden that is easier to maintain and to care for.
Smart home technology
While the green features are effective on their own, the addition of a smart home technology system serves to enhance them. The Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system, the heat pump, the rainwater harvesting and the water pump can be connected to the software. This provides you with two important abilities:
- The ability to monitor consumption
Information is a powerful tool and with smart technology we have instant access to the home’s data. The system constantly collects information about power consumption and the level in the water tank. These are available at a glance – how much electricity and water is being using. This is available for right now, and back over time, for the current day, weeks, months and years
Without a smart home technology system, it is impossible to gather this type of information manually. And it provides us with an accurate, up-to-minute picture of how much electricity and rainwater we’re using. With this information, we’re able to make important decisions.
For example, though the effects of adjusting the Hydronics temperature is completed within 24-72 hours, we’ll immediately see the effect that reducing or increasing the temperature inside the home has on the power consumption. This enables us to adjust the temperature with a half or full degree to balance the comfort with the power consumption, instead of waiting for 24 – 72 hours. Imagine how useful this is when working out how much energy and money it takes to run our home? Not only does it increase our monthly savings, it also makes our home energy-efficient.
- The ability to manage our home remotely
The beauty of the smart home technology is that it comes with an app. With the ability to monitor and manage your home from within the home and remotely. You are able to install and run the app from your smartphones, tablets, and computers.
In an age where we’re increasingly using our smart devices and laptops, it stands to reason this convenience is extended to our homes. And with further customisation, the green smart technology is able to provide other conveniences.
It is possible to extend the system to include some of the other features too which include security and convenience. It is flexible, powerful and focused on reducing the monthly running costs. Simply being able to monitor and manage adjusting various aspects of the home makes it easy for homeowners to efficiently manage their home. As aforementioned, like having the ability to balance electricity consumption comfort and cost.
It is best to seamlessly blend the best of both green technologies and smart home technology and work with the environment to create a space that is eco-friendly and luxurious.
The grid-tied solar panels with the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system and the underground rainwater harvesting tank maximises the use the available resources. And the smart home technology system adds an extra layer of monitoring, managing and customisation creating a home that is eco-friendly and ahead of its time.
Investing in a green smart home provides us with instant savings on our monthly running costs and additional savings in the future as costs rise. It’s a home that increases in value as more people realise the benefit of living in a green smart home.
Another winter has passed and it’s time to pack away the heaters and electric blankets. For next year’s winter, during this summer, let’s investigate living the green smart home way to keep our home warm and comfortable next winter. And, cool next summer. And the same for future winters and summers. Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling is a cost-effective way to manage our homes at a comfortable temperature all year round.
What is Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling?
Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling works by circulating warm or cold water through a network of pipes laid in the floor. The system is popular in eco-friendly homes. The heat or cold spreads gently throughout the house and eliminates the need for heaters in winter and air-conditioners in summer. It’s a closed system, thus the water is re-used.
The hot and cold water is ideally obtained from a heat pump which is able to produce water at the required temperature, hot and cold water simultaneously, during the year.
Why choose Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling?
Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling is a cost effective method for heating and cooling our homes. When we’re ready to adopt green living, and combine a Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system with a heat pump and photovoltaic solar power, the cost savings are momentous.
This method allows for an even distribution of the required temperature, making it more effective than heaters and air-condition. As the warm or cold air rises from the floor it spreads the temperature throughout, keeping it comfortable.
Imagine waking up on chilly winter mornings, putting our bare feet directly onto a tiled floor. Without Hydronis Radiant heating we’d immediately remove our feet and slide them back under the covers. Instead, we’d get up right away and walk on the tiled floors feeling their warmth. People are surprised to discover that living green makes our lives simpler, comfortable and reducing monthly running costs.
What are the advantages of the Hydronics Radiant system?
When compared with conventional heating and cooling methods, the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system offers a number of benefits to homeowners:
As mentioned above, Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling distributes heating and cooling evenly throughout the space. We don’t have to limit ourselves to a warm area during the cold months. We work, play and relax in any room without first switching on a heater to warm up the area. Greener living is about comfort at reduced running costs.
Unlike heaters, the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling doesn’t dry out the air. In certain parts of the country, winter is a dry season. The dry air takes a toll on our skin, hair and mucous membranes. Relying on a heater to keep warm only dries out the air more which impacts on us. Instead, Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling retains the moisture levels present in the air which means our health isn’t impacted.
Finally, a Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system is clean and quiet. The pipes are laid under the floor and no need to pack away or drag out the appliances as the seasons change. The system doesn’t blow hot or cold air around so there’s no noise at all. We merely snuggle up on the couch in winter and listen to music or watch television without having to turn the sound up. Same in summer, no sound to contend with, just enjoy the comfort.
- Energy efficient and environmentally friendly
Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling saves us between 60% to 95% on our monthly electricity costs. Think about the electricy we use to heat or cool our homes. Living in this comfort while reducing this cost multiple times is what the ideal Hydronics system enables throughout the year.
When combining Hydronics with the heat pump and photovoltaic solar power, we live in comfort while saving 95% electricity.
At the same time while we’re saving resources, we’re reducing our carbon footprint. Eco-friendly homes are about using resources wisely and efficiently, and living in comfort – and it’s not a passing fad. It’s a win-win for home owners, the environment and the planet – we’re reducing the increasing costs and the strain on resources.
- Clean, safe and easy to maintain
Floors that are warm and dry inhibit the growth of mold and house mites. And think of how our heaters gather dust in the winter. As soon as we turn them on, they blow dust and other pathogens into the air we breathe. Studies have proven that eco-friendly homes are cleaner and healthier and have better air quality than traditional homes.
A Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system improves the air quality in our home and our health. When we suffer from allergies or asthma, Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling helps us manage our symptoms and cut down on visits to the doctor.
There’s no risk of tripping over a heater or fan either which makes an Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system ideal for families with small children or elderly parents.
Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling systems have few moving and mechanical parts and require periodical and minor servicing or maintenance.
We adjust the temperature for individual zones easy via a smartphone app or computer.
Because the Hydronics system is laid under the floor, there are no air ducts to consider when designing the home. The pipes are enclosed within a screed, thus out of sight. They cannot be tampered with and provide a secure heating and cooling solution.
The whole floor is used to radiate heat and cold water in the pipes and need to be heated or cooled to a temperature of between 21° to 23° depending on the season. Green living is as cost-effective as it resource-effective.
Whilst most eco-friendly houses include a Hydronic Radiant heating and cooling system as part of their design, this type of system cannot be economically retrofitted to existing houses. It would require that the floor be removed from the finishes all the way to the foundation slab (unless wooden structure and floor.) To accommodate the Hydronics system, the system takes up 15cm containing a vapour barrier, floor insulation, varioprofile water pipes, the screed and tiled floor finish – and a few other intricate modifications.
Instead, when in the market for a new home, look for an eco-friendly home that has the features and advantages of green living. While eco-friendly homes are more expensive, we reap the benefits from when we move in. and years down the road when the time comes to sell the property on.
A word about insulation
Whether keen to invest in an eco-friendly home with a Hydronic Radiant heating and cooling system, be aware of the importance of comprehensive insulation. Without floor-, ceiling-, exterior wall-, double glazing and water pipe insulation, a Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system will not be as efficient.
Purpose built eco-friendly houses are designed to include insulation at every stage of the building project. It is worth asking the developer about the methods used to ensure that they are efficient and in keeping with green living principles. Wherever possible, insulation would be made from recycled or recyclable material. This is especially important for ceiling insulation; there are various products on the market that cater for this.
Most existing homes aren’t insulated. That’s why we need to do an audit of our home insulation before we retrofit a Hydronics system. Poor insulation adds to the viability of whether to retrofit Hydronics. Though not impossible, it’ll be pricey. And moving out of the residence and placing all furniture in storage during the retrofitting are further costs.
Here are some tips for insulating a home:
- Check for air leaks: Window and door frames are the most obvious areas where drafts slip through. Ensure all windows and doors close tightly and if they don’t, use weather strips and caulk to seal up any gaps. Just taking care of these small air leaks will make a difference to the temperature of our homes in winter and summer.
- Insulated floors: With a Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system, the pipes are on top of the floor insulation and covered by an extra thick screed. A vapour barrier is below the insulation, keeping moist out. The insulation is part of enclosing the space, the screed is a good conductor of the radiant temperature to maximize the system’s efficiency all your round.
- Ceiling insulation: The insulation is essential to prevent heat from escaping during the winter and the cold during summer.
- Double-glazing: Investing in double-glazing adds to insulating the space
- Water pipes: Insulating the regular hot and cold water pipes throughout the home completes the insulation.
When combining a comprehensively insulated home with a Hydronics system, they complement each other and provide a comfortable home while significantly reducing power usage.
Dreaming of living in a home that doesn’t need heaters in winter or air-conditioners in summer? The answer is a Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system. With such a home an even temperature is achieved all year round and we’re able to manage the temperature in individual rooms. Greener living makes a lot of sense. If in the market to buy a new home, or looking for ways to add real value to our home, consider investing in a Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system. And start reaping rewards immediately; with big savings on the monthly energy bill and as a sound investment.