The ability to heat up or cool down any area within the home is a special feature. This is achieved through Hydronics radiant heating and cooling, which is a water-based method of temperature control that uses almost no electricity. This is also an eco-friendly method.
The water in this system won’t cost much as it is circulated through the system over and over.
The home is divided into areas called ‘zones’. These zones have temperature control options which are adjusted, meaning that each zone has a different temperature if required. And as the hydronics system is installed below the surface of the floor, any temperature adjustments are felt within a short period of time.
Rooms are insulated, in order to maintain the set temperatures. Double-bricked walls and Lambdaboard in between the walls create doubly-effective insulation, and this means a further saving on electricity.
In a smart green home, there is the option to make use of the sun to generate free electricity. With a grid-tied system, there is a back-up power supply in the event of a shortfall.
Using a heat pump, combined with a linked-loop hotwater system, hot water is immediately available in the home. Heat pumps are very efficient and need little energy to heat water. Costs are therefore reduced.
In a green home, air-conditioners and heaters are not required. With Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling, the home is fully temperature controlled at minimal cost.
Using rainwater for watering the garden, for the washing machine and to flush the toilets also saves on the monthly water bill.
And using low-flow shower heads and taps saves on water consumption, resulting in great savings for the homeowner.
In a green smart home, one is able to monitor and control every aspect.
At a glance, we see what our electricity usage is and take steps to reduce usage without sacrificing convenience or comfort.
Hot water is always on tap.
With water tanks being used to collect and store rainwater, the water level is checked at a glance, using the smart monitoring system.
The green smart home works with the environment. A full weather report including the temperature and humidity levels is always available on the app.
And with hydronics radiant heating and cooling, and with comprehensive insulation being in place, one walks barefoot and in a t-shirt in winter.
Green home prices may be higher than that of other houses on the market – however, there is a great return on investment.
Our water bill is reduced by up to 60% when rainwater harvesting is implemented. (Rainwater is used for washing machines, gardens and toilet flushing.)
Insulation of the home reduces the electricity bill. Room insulation maintains room temperature and pipe insulation reduces the need to heat up water.
And using hydronics radiant heating and cooling makes temperature control inexpensive.
With all the above savings added up, there is a great reduction in monthly living costs, and this will give a return on investment. Within ten years or less, the extra that is paid for the home is recouped in this way.
Through complex under-floor water pipe systems, your home can maintain a steady temperature without high running expenses being added to our utility bill.
The key to the ingenuity of this system is in the installation. A network of pipes is installed throughout the house and connected to two separate tanks—one hot, and one cold. These main pipes form part of a larger network of smaller pipes which are placed between the floor’s foundation and the surface.
Hot or cold water is pumped throughout this network of pipes depending on the temperature selected.
This practical system is laid out over multiple zones throughout the home. Each zone’s temperature is adjusted according to the preference of each family member.
Is the only thing holding you back from investing in a green home the fear that you simply can’t afford it? It’s a common misconception that living off the grid is only possible for the rich. While other’s think that converting their existing home will result in over-capitalization. By the end of this article you’ll come to realise that green homes are not just affordable, but actually add more value to your biggest investment.
Starting from scratch
If you’re in the market for a new home, it makes sense to look for one that already has many green features. Although there are not many of these homes available yet, these homes boast several innovative features that are not only eco-friendly, but contribute significant savings to the running of your household.
Knowing what to look for in a green home is the first step to evaluating whether it will be a good investment. Here are some pointers that you can use:
- It makes the best use of the location: An eco-friendly home should work with the environment to achieve maximum efficiency. If it’s correctly orientated, a green home can use natural sunlight to ensure that it’s easier to heat in winter, and just as easy to cool in summer. Taking advantage of natural sunlight and shadow means you spend less money keeping your living space at a comfortable temperature throughout the year.
- It is properly insulated:Most regular homes aren’t well insulated at all. This means that any money you spend trying to make your home comfortable just goes to waste. A green home is not just well-insulated; it also makes use of eco-friendly materials to ensure comfort and sustainability. The floors, walls and roof of your green home should all be insulated.
- It uses efficient heating and cooling systems:Underfloor heating and cooling may sound like an expensive luxury, but in a green home it provides a more efficient method of keeping your home at the right temperature. Use the innovative hydronics heating and cooling system to achieve this. Pipes laid throughout the house enables hot and cold water to be pumped under the flooring. This is far more efficient and affordable than using heaters in winter or air conditioners in summer to adjust the temperature of your interior spaces.
- It relies on solar energy:This may seem to be the most obvious feature of green homes. At the very least, a solar water heater provides free energy for heating the water that you use on a daily basis. If you instead add different panels and batteries, you can generate enough power to run your entire home without relying only on the grid.
- It’s water-wise:Clean water is rapidly becoming one of the most precious resources on the planet. And as time goes on, accessing water will become even more expensive. That’s why most green homes make use of water tanks to collect rainwater which can be used for everything from washing your car to flushing your toilet, and importantly to irrigate your garden. And the good news is that this doesn’t have to take the form of an unsightly tank in your garden. Instead, they are buried underground and fitted with energy efficient pumps to make the water available where you need it.
While these are just some of the basic features that any good green home should have, look out for those that offer little extras. Double-glazed windows, a garden with indigenous plants and bamboo flooring or counter tops all go a long way to making your home efficient and sustainable.
Counting the cost
Understanding the true cost of a green home requires you to do some serious calculations. While it’s true that you initial investment is higher than normal, you should factor in your future costs to see how much you’ll save in the long term.
To do this, you’ll need to calculate how much energy and water you currently consume and what it costs you every month. You can do this by monitoring your consumption and bills for a month or two. Then, you’ll need to estimate how much your expenses will increase as the cost of these resources continues to rise. Finally, you can offset this against the initial costs of buying a green home.
You’ll realise, as others have, that investing in a green home offers you substantial future savings. On average, you’ll find that it takes between 8 – 10 years to recoup your green investment. And, you’ll have many years of future savings to look forward to. As the costs of electricity rises, you’ll actually end up saving even more with each passing year.
Buying a green home is a serious commitment though. To really appreciate the savings you can enjoy, you’ll remain in your home longer—and when moving, you’ll move to another eco-friendly home of course.
The good news doesn’t end there. Should you ever sell your green home, you’ll find that you can command a higher price for your property. And because green homes require less maintenance, you won’t have to spend a lot of money preparing your home for resale.
Retrofitting your existing home
Even if you’re not in a position to buy a ready-fitted green home, there are several things you can do to make your existing home more energy-efficient. Retro-fitting an existing home with green features is often considered expensive. But once again, you need to take into account your future savings to determine how cost-effective these measures are.
Aside from cost, most people are unsure of where to start greening an existing home. However, it’s always a good idea to start small and build-up to bigger projects. Very often, some serious research is required to determine just what the final cost and savings may be. If you need help, consult with experts who will be able to give you the right advice. Some of these projects require specific knowledge and tools, so don’t be tempted to take the DIY route if you don’t have the necessary skills.
There’s more to owning a green home than just enjoying the cost savings. It requires a mind-shift to start living in a different way. So if you think that you’re ready to embrace a new way of living, try out some small projects before committing to the bigger ones.
- Be aware of how much energy you use: Simply turning off the lights as you leave a room is a good habit to develop. If you do eventually install photo-voltaic solar panels to power your home, you’ll need to be conscious of your energy consumption. That way, if you do make the switch to solar power, you’ll use it wisely and not waste it.
- Use energy efficient products: Light bulbs, dishwashers and fridges all consume electricity. If you ever get to the point where you generate your own electricity, you’ll want to make sure your household appliances are energy efficient.
- Monitor your water usage: Cutting down on your time in the shower can be difficult. But ultimately, it will help you save money on both your water and energy consumption. If you’re going to install a solar water heater, you’ll appreciate just what it takes to have a hot shower in the morning.
- Get water-wise: It’s so easy to just turn on a tap and have access to fresh water that we tend to take it for granted. So start thinking about all the water you use during the day and what steps you can take to cut down. Plant indigenous in your garden, pop a brick in your toilet and re-use your grey water for washing your car.
Once you’re aware of your consumption habits, it will become easier for you to see the value in investing in the bigger projects. When you’re ready to make the change, here are some of the ways you can retro-fit your home:
- Solar water heaters: Installing a solar water heater can knock a good 30% off your monthly electricity bill. When measured against the installation costs, it means you can re-coup your investment within 4 – 5 years. Most solar water heaters come with a five year guarantee and last between 15 – 20 years. As they don’t require much maintenance, this makes them one of the easiest green features you can use in an existing home.
- Insulation:An energy-efficient home is one that is well insulated. With existing homes it may be difficult or costly to add more insulation, but the investment is well worth it. Often your roof is the best place to start as it’s quite easy to add a layer of insulation here. But be sure to use environmentally-friendly material for this project. You can also check your windows and doors for air leaks and use insulating strips or caulk to seal them from draughts.
- Rainwater harvesting tanks:This very much depends on the space you have available on your property. However, there are plenty of options available on the market; your bound to find one that suits your requirements. These tanks can also be buried underground so they won’t detract from the appearance of your property. And they can be fitted to work with the existing municipal supply so you’ll never have to worry that you won’t have access to water when you need it.
- Photo-voltaic solar panels:Living off the grid is possible, but for existing homes it requires a significant investment. However, you can easily start with some panels and add to them as you save on your monthly bills. As with the rainwater tanks, you can supplement your solar panel with the municipal electricity supply.
Once you start investigating the options available for retro-fitting an existing home, you’ll see just how easy and affordable it can be. Not only will you enjoy considerable savings on your monthly running costs, you’ll also be adding significant value to your home. And should you ever want to sell your home, you’ll be able to command a higher price.
What’s more affordable?
The answer to this question will depend on your current situation. If you’re considering buying a new home, it would make sense to find one that has all the green features you want. And while this may mean that you spend more money initially, you will end up saving immediately and continuously.
If moving is not an option, then this article should prove to you that it’s still possible to go green without spending a fortune. Researching various green features will help you make a decision on where to start. And you’ll find that once you have implemented some of these suggestions, you’ll save money which you can put towards your next project.
It’s safe to say that being environmentally conscious isn’t just for the rich. With proper planning and dedication, anyone can change their home into green home. Are you ready to make the change?
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:
- Quiet and comfortable
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.
- Flexible design
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.