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.
Being involved in the construction of your own home is exciting. You’re calling the shots and it’s only natural that when you’re making that kind of investment that you want everything to be perfect. And it stands to reason that what you chose now will influence your lifestyle and that of your family for years to come.
It’s no different when building a green home. In fact, it requires even more thought and planning to build a home that’s not just beautiful, practical and cost-effective, but in harmony with the environment too. So where do you start? This green home checklist should give you something to think about.
Location, location, location
When shopping for a new home, most people consider location to be the most important factor. You want to be close to your place of work, in an area with convenient shopping, entertainment and schooling. It also needs to be safe and have the right infrastructure in place for comfortable living.
But when you’re buying or building a green home you have to take it one step further. Look at the site conditions of your future home and whether it has the necessary qualities such as enough space for rainwater harvesting tanks and access to clean air and water.
Building position and orientation
You’ll want to orientate your home in the best position to take advantage of what the site you’ve chosen has to offer. In the southern hemisphere, a north-facing position is best as it allows you to make use of sunlight to warm your home in the winter and keep it cool in the summer.
Knowing where to place your windows, what size they should be and what the best spot for solar panels would be are all crucial elements when it comes to building a home that is energy efficient. After all, the purpose of a green home is to work with nature and not against it. Getting the basics right from the start will have a significant impact on the practical operating of your home and determine just how efficient it can be.
Get savvy with your layout
This is an important part of turning your green home dream into a reality. When planning the layout of your home take the orientation of the building into consideration. Think about which rooms need natural light and heat to reduce your electricity costs. Look at the flow of air around the building and how you can use natural ventilation to your advantage.
The way you layout your home can go a long way to reducing your construction costs too. So don’t focus only on the aesthetic. Be practical about how your home will function now and in the future.
Choose the right building materials
You might think that green construction is all about using materials that are sustainable and don’t poison or damage the environment. And while that is certainly true to some extent, it’s essential to be practical about this element.
All materials have strengths and weakness when it comes to being eco-friendly. While the production of a certain material may be more sustainable, it might not be very durable. In which case, you’d have to replace it or maintain more often. And that may have a negative impact on the environment. For example, bamboo is an excellent substitute for traditional wooden structures in a home such as counter tops and even flooring. It’s a fast growing plant which means it’s more sustainable than other woods. But the finishes used on bamboo may contain toxic chemicals to ensure its durability. Find out as much as you can about the sourcing and manufacturing of various construction materials before you commit to using them in your design.
Try to achieve a balance between using materials that are sturdy, don’t require much maintenance, are sustainable or recyclable and aren’t produced using methods and techniques that are harmful to the environment. Building a green home requires you to think farther into the future than you would with any other type of home. The initial layout will cost more so you should think of it as a long-term investment. Choose wisely now and you’ll reap the benefits well into the future.
Add green features for future cost savings
A home may be considered green when it incorporates technologies that reduce or eliminate your reliance on the normal infrastructure associated with housing. So make sure these elements are part of your initial plans:
- Insulation:A home that is properly insulated is easy to keep cool in summer and warm in winter. This means you’ll draw less power from the grid to live, work and play in comfort. Insulation should be built into the structure, between exterior walls and in the ceiling and flooring.
You won’t need to use an air-conditioner or heaters to maintain the temperature of your home throughout the year. Not only will you save on electricity, but you’ll reduce the demand on the grid and reduce the risk of outages which affect everyone.
- Rainwater harvesting:With green homes these large tanks can be hidden underground reducing the amount of space they need and ensuring that your property looks as attractive as a regular home. It also means you’ll have a supplementary supply of water available for flushing toilets or watering your garden.
By making use of rainwater, you’re not only saving a precious resource you’re also saving costs.
- Solar panels:Can a home really be green if it doesn’t have solar panels? These are essential for anyone who wants to reduce their reliance on the grid and power their own home. The size, type and number of panels depend on several factors. Careful planning will ensure that you have enough power available for necessities or to run your full household, including for your lights, TV and appliances.
And given the constant sunshine available in South Africa, relying on solar panels to power your home isn’t just wishful thinking. You may need back-up batteries, but if you’re building a new home from scratch these can easily be incorporated into your design. And you’ll never have to worry about being unable to power the things you need if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Solar panels are also perfect for heating your water which has a double cost-saving effect. Not only do you save on electricity, but you could have hot water on tap, meaning you don’t waste it just waiting for the hot water to reach the right temperature – thus saving on water too.
- Hydronics radiant heating and cooling: This is a clever system that uses a network of pipes to run hot or cold water through the floor of your home. It’s a cost-effective way to maintain the temperature without resorting to power hungry heaters or air conditioners.
And if the pipes are properly insulated, the system is not only more effective, but a cheaper method of keeping your home at a comfortable temperature through all seasons.
You may not be able to afford all of these things right away. In which case, you’ll need to decide which are the most important to you. Retrofitting an existing home with green features can be more difficult and costly. Do your research and work with a company that has expert knowledge to help you make the right decision for your family.
Think outside the box
Your home isn’t just about the building you live in. It’s also about your surroundings such as your garden and garage.
Wherever possible, you should look to reduce the maintenance costs of these often neglected areas. A water-wise garden doesn’t just make financial sense; it also makes a difference to the environment. Use indigenous plants to cut back on the water required to keep your garden looking good all year round. And you’ll appreciate how much less maintenance it requires too. Instead of spending hours tending to your garden, you’ll be able to just relax and enjoy the outdoors.
Even your garage should be planned using the principles you apply to your home. Consider its position and location and use green building materials for the construction. A garage can be a dark place, so look for ways to include natural lighting and use energy-efficient LED bulbs to light it up at night.
If your garage is attached to your home, it makes sense to factor it in to your plans. A cold concrete floor could result in an icy draft making its way into your home through a connecting door. So use insulation cleverly to complement the rest of your home.
All garages have a roof, which means they can be used to collect run-off water. This water can be stored in a tank and used for general cleaning purposes. At minimum it is efficient and eco-friendly to use run-off water from your garage to wash your car.
The benefits of green construction
Many people feel that investing in a green home is an unnecessary expense. Yes, they do cost more to build but in the long term the savings are substantial. Apart from that, there are many other benefits to green living:
- Your impact on the environment is minimal: Green buildings reduce energy usage, CO2 emissions, waste output and water usage.
- It’s healthier: Improved indoor air quality means you’re less likely to suffer from common respiratory ailments.
- It increases the value of your home: If you should ever need to sell your property you’ll be pleased to discover that a green home commands a higher price.
And once you get down to planning your green home, you may be surprised to find that it doesn’t cost that much more than a traditional one. The key is to work with experts who are knowledgeable in the area of green construction. They’ll be able to give you good advice and know where to get the features and eco-friendly materials you need.
It’s not just how you build; it’s how you live
Building a green home doesn’t stop at using eco-friendly construction materials or adding green features to save you money, it’s about the way you live your life. You’re conscious of the impact you have on natural resources and extend this way of thinking into every area of your life, from how you use your car to recycling your waste whenever you can.
The many benefits of living in such a home should not be taken for granted. It can be at least as comfortable as living in a traditional home, even luxurious, and with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you’re treading as lightly as possible on our planet.
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.
Title: Transcript of Interview with Istvan Nyul, Kyasol Green Building Solutions
Presented by: Emmanuel van der Meulen
Guest Speaker: Istvan Nyul
Date: 15 May 2017
Number of Speakers: 2
File Duration: 52:32
Transcriptionist: Jacqui Jonk
Links are at the end of the transcript.
Transcript Break Down:
00:01 Introduction to Radio Live Green Smart.
01:54 What is green building?
03:36 Introduction to Kyasol Green Building Solutions.
05:17 What is hydronics underfloor heating?
09:23 How does hydronics compare to electrical underfloor heating and are there other methods?
16:38 General requirements for hydronics?
24:08 What are the different floor coverings used with hydronics?
27:26 Can hydronics be fitted anywhere else besides the floor?
33:06 Costs of hydronics?
38:19 What other features does your system provide?
52:01 Wrap Up.
And I’m recording.
Welcome to Radio Live Green Smart and to our building green discussion, brought to you in association with Istvan Nyul of Kyasol Green Building Solutions. You are welcome to phone in on mobile number in South Africa 27 082 651 4273, Ill repeat that, South Africa 27 082 651 4273 or you can skype on Emmanuel.van.der.meulen, I’ll spell that (phonetic spelling follows making use of NATO phonetic alphabet) and phone in any time with questions about building green. I’m your host, Emmanuel and before we start a little bit about Radio Live Green Smart. It’s a forum to discuss green living, eco-friendly living and importantly a forum to discuss where you see any disrespect for the environment first hand. Bring such disrespect to us, we’ll assist to expose such [envir] environmental disrespect. Use contact us to send the details of the disrespect, please provide comprehensive information so it makes it easy for us to follow up. Top
Now a small introduction to the discussion: what is green building? [suspain] sustainable or green building design and construction is about wisely using resources to create high quality, healthier and energy efficient homes and commercial buildings, a green building is more than the sum of its parts, its process and impact also matters. Green design is about finding balance, balance between high quality construction and low environmental impact. A lighter footprint means a longer lasting planet which is a win for the builder, for the client and for the environment. Green building is a goal and a process, viewing sustainable building as a process is important because green building success isn’t just a matter of building with green materials. Green building combines both materials and processes to maximize efficiency, durability, savings (the savings is an important part) and then also a solid return on investment.
We’ll now talk to Istvan Nyul from Kyasol Green Building Solutions. Hello Istvan. Just before we start please introduce yourself and Kyasol to our listeners. Top
Istvan: Good evening Emmanuel, [um] thank you for having me here tonight, [uh] it’s an honour to be at your newly created radio show. Thank you.
Emmanuel: You are welcome Istvan.
Istvan: Yeah [um] Kyasol [um] Kyasol was [um] founded in 2010, it derived from an industrial automation company [um] the 2 founding fathers if you can call it that way are my 2 colleagues Jonathan and Frans [um] and yeah since then [um] it’s been a long journey working together with many, many companies all related to green living, green building, green houses whatsoever. [um] I myself I’m a studied engineer, a mechanical engineering, or its actually a mix of mechanical engineering and electrical engineering and [uh] I came here about 10 years ago to South Africa. I studied in Germany and I decided to live in South Africa and 1 year after founding Kyasol I joined the team and with me I brought the knowledge for [for] the underfloor heating for the entire thermal heating systems.
Emmanuel: OK [thank you] thank you for that introduction, very interesting introduction [uh] Istvan. OK so [uh] let’s go to the next topic what is hydronics underfloor heating? Can you [can you] elaborate on what that is? Top
Istvan: [um] many people might know how electrical underfloor heating works, that’s when wires gets laid into the screed, similar is the hydronic floor heating, only we don’t lay wires, we lay pipes, actual water pipes. It’s a multi-layer pex pipe, a plastic pipe and [uh] in there we circulate warm water. [um] that [that] heat which is carried by the warm water is then transferred into the screed and the screed transfers it into your room, essentially heating the structure of the building. Now in the screed you’ll find that during the insulation you can see it afterwards its hidden away [um] you’ll find a whole [uh] spider web of [uh] piping, but everything is without pipe crossings.
The pipe is laid at a spacing of about 100mm so every 100mm in your [yeah in your] ground structure you’ll find pipe with water circulating in it and that is done in such a way cause [the more] the more area that is covered in a building, the more heating surface you’ve got the better the [the] efficiency of the entire system. In the house, depending on the size of the house you will have [um] we call it manifolds [um] the floor we have the following problem, the length of the type is limited, we can only have a maximum length of 100 metres, 100 metres per circuit. Now in a big house you will have many circuits, can be 20/30 circuits easily [easily] so per circuit we can cover 10 square metres and if your room is for instance 30 square metres then you will need 3 circuits and in that 30 square metre room you’ll then have 300 metres of pipe, so per square metre we lay out 10 metres of pipe [um] the house is then separated into different zones so each room then has a separate thermostat and each room can then be controlled separately.
Emmanuel: OK thank you [thank you] Istvan, [um] let me just make sure I understood, is the pex pipe plastic?
Istvan: Yes, it is a plastic, so it can be bent very easily and [and uh] it is slightly less efficient than copper (Emmanuel in the background saying OK) copper is a very good conductor [um] but if you think about how much pipe is in the floor, its kilometres per house then [um] yeah, the copper would work out very expensive and the pex pipe in comparison is very cost effective, but [um yes] yes you do have a little bit less heating efficiency.
Emmanuel: OK, is that pipe reinforced at all?
Istvan: The pipe has got an aluminium layer inside, the very insert of the pipe is plastic, that is where water comes into contact with the pipe, its very smooth so the [the the] friction is very low [uh] created by the pipe, then you have a layer of aluminium which gives it stability [um] it also makes it, afterwards you can find the pipe with a pipe finder in the floor in case you want to drill somewhere [um]and another reason for that, we will talk about it a little bit later and [um] that aluminium inside the pipe is also a vapour barrier because we don’t want air to infiltrate into that closed water system, because air and water causes rust of metal parts (Emmanuel in the background says OK) and to avoid all that the pipe has [um] got an aluminium layer inside to seal it off pretty much.
Emmanuel: OK, I’m very happy that an expert would lay it, I wouldn’t know how to do that.
Istvan: It is not that complicated. Top
Emmanuel: OK Istvan thank you for that, let’s move on to the next one, now how does the hydronics compare to electrical underfloor heating?
Istvan: [um]the electrical underfloor heating is very responsive, so you switch it on and a half an hour later you can feel the floor is warm already, it is a little bit different here with the hydronic [um] underfloor heating system [um] because we have a much thicker screed layer on top, so there’s a bit more [um] matter to heat through first until the temperature reaches the floor and until the floor can heat the entire space, so that is the first thing one needs to have in mind, that [uh] it’s a bit slower so it takes a couple of hours after you switch it on. It takes a couple of hours that [uh] space gets warm [um] but the intention here is not to switch it on and off on demand, the intention is here to keep it running, it will regulate and control itself, it will switch the room off if the room reaches temperature or switch it on once the temperatures too low. It’s intelligent you don’t need to interfere as a user, [um] there’s a whole logic behind it to control all that.
You set your temperatures once and that’s pretty much it [um] also it’s a bit more complex then [um] electrical underfloor heating, with electric underfloor heating you have an electrical connection on the wall and [uh] the installer wires the web the [the uh] wire web to it and then you have a thermostat which switches it on or off.
Here [um] you have a heat source, this can be different things to create that heat which is then transferred into the water [um] you need [um] much more space for the entire equipment, you have pumps and valves, and an entire DB for the controls so it’s a bit more of an effort and one needs to know what is happening and what needs to happen onsite [um] to [yeah] not to lose it basically.
[um] different heat sources can for instance be [uh] a heat pump which is most popular [um uh] method of heating the [the] water which circulates in the floor [um] the heat pump [uh] the advantage of a heat pump is that [um] it can run at any time as long as there’s electricity; where the electricity comes from whether its [um] Eskom or you produce it yourself that doesn’t matter. If there’s electricity the heat pump runs. Another method of heating it is solar panels on the roof so typically you would have a tank, [uh] the tank is connected to a couple of panels on the roof and during the day the pumps will circulate the water from the tank up to panels and then back into the tank and from there the water then gets distributed into the entire house now the advantage of this method is that [um] heat generation only happens during the day when the sun is shining but most of the heating mostly happens at night [um] in order to [to] avoid tank cooling down you’ll have to have a couple of tanks and lots of panels to heat those tanks, its 2000/3000 litres and then at night you can use those tanks like a heat battery and you just draw the heat out until next morning when they heat up again.
Another method would be gas, which is [uh] very expensive, it’s still cheaper than electrical heating but its expensive compared to the other methods [um] it’s a [it’s a] gas boiler which then circulates heats the water up which then circulates through it and [um] that way you could also heat and another [um] method would be a fire place that is a special one with a built in heat exchanger where the flute gases exit so when you make a fire in the lounge for instance, you enjoy your fire in the lounge and at the same time water is circulated through the heat exchanger and then goes back to the tank and from there it gets distributed in the house. So basically you have a warm lounge through your fireplace but at the same time you heating the bedroom and bathroom on the other side, that is how the system works [um] an advantage of hydronic underfloor heating is also that you can combine sources. You can have a heat pump that covers the heating at night via electricity and you can have solar which heats the tank [uh] during the day when the sun is out so you can [um] those systems assist each other and therefore reducing the electrical demand even more. [um] the initial investment of such a system is much higher but [um] the running costs to heat the house are so much lower than electrical underfloor heating, you can say it’s about a fifth of [um] a comparable electric underfloor heating system. Which means with the electrical consumption of a geyser you could heat 200 square metres and that is when the heat pump is running flat out on a very cold day.
Emmanuel: OK [ok] so out of all these heat sources for hydronics would you say that the heat pump is probably the easier and less expensive mechanism?
Istvan: It is the easiest yes. It costs a bit more than a fire place for instance, if you use a fireplace for heating or a gas unit but then again with a fire place you need wood for it to keep it running (Emmanuel in the background: yeah) you can’t just [uh] put 1 batch in it and forget about it, you need to keep it running (Emmanuel in the background: OK) well the heat pump switches on there’s no mess, no fuss it always works, it’s a very reliable unit.
Emmanuel: OK, and also the house that we developed, by using the heat pump we could also cool the house so all year round through the hydronics, in the winter we have a heat source that will warm up the house to a [a,a] comfortable temperature and then in summer we could [uh] then cool the house down as well and that’s what the heat pump [the heat pump] will give us?
Istvan: Yeah [uh] that’s correct, those units which can cool as well are a bit more expensive (Emmanuel in the back says OK) but generally it is possible to the cool the house, whether it’s through the floor or walls or ceiling doesn’t matter (Emmanuel in the background says OK) but yes [uh] that’s correct [um]. Top
Emmanuel: OK, [move] moving on then the general requirements for hydronics? Can you just cover those for us? What [what what] does it all entail?
Istvan: What I always recommend my clients who enquire about underfloor heating first think about the building, think about the efficiency of the building and then look into alternative heating or cooling methods. And that starts with [uh] very easy things like insulating the building shell, double glazing for instance, double glazing [uh] can prevent the heat from going out in winter so you keep the heat inside, in summer it keeps the heat outside. Those double-glazed windows generally are more tighter than single glazing, there’s no drought, also they shield the noise, that is a very big advantage of double glazed windows, that the noise levels drop significantly [um] so yeah one method would be double glazing then [um] insulate the roof [so there’s] if you don’t insulate your roof or your ceiling then you going to lose all your heat, might as well not heat in other words. So, the roof must be insulated [um] then [um] if you are willing to invest that additional money and also insulate the walls, so if you have [um] your double walls with the cavity [um] there are methods to insulate that cavity with insulation, that also reduces the heat flow in winter then the heat flow from the inside to outside, cause it gets stuck pretty much in the middle.
Emmanuel: Yeah, in the property that we developed we did exactly that by [uh] adding the two [uh] layers and the cavity and then we used lambda board in the cavity, which as you say then insulated both from the inside and from the outside making the wall [uh] quite a bit wider than regular double [double] walls.
Istvan: Another method would be, there’s those[um]it’s like granules which can be poured into those cavities and they also work quite nicely.
Istvan: Then [um] something that comes with underfloor heating is [um] the floor insulation so basically [uh] the different layers of the underfloor heated floor [um] would be if [if you look if] you take your slab and [uh] and first we install a vapour barrier, just a plastic, your USB plastic to prevent moisture from the underside from getting through to the floor heating system cause humidity is an additional heat carrier, so it will carry the heat away from the floor[um] on top of that [um] plastic we put high density polystyrene, that is a special polystyrene that is meant to go onto floors [um] the thickness of the polystyrene is round about 50mm on ground floors, on upper floors you can reduce it to 35mm for instance or 30mm and [um] and on top of that polystyrene we then put our[um] we call it the [knot panel um] the panel has two functions, firstly also another vapour barrier to prevent moisture and secondly [um] you have to imagine it a panel like [um] which is interlinked with the next neighbour like legal, and [um] through that we create like a carpet in which we lay the pipe, so we ensure that the pipes is always at the same spacing, it looks neat and straight and proper. [um] the screed will be at a thickness of about 70/80mm so that’s much thicker than for a normal screed or electric underfloor heating screed [um] its poured straight on top of the entire construction underneath [um] and closing the pipe inside [um] and [um] the 70mm basically creates a block of matter which then also stores lots of heat in case the heat pump switches off or there’s a power outage you won’t even notice its getting colder because there’s so much heat like a battery, there’s so much heat [um] stored in the screed, and yeah on top of the screed there’s your [your] final floor covering, tiles, thin carpet, [um wooden wooden um] wooden floor if you want. Ideally tiles because they also conduct heat very well just like they conduct heat away from your foot when they are cold, they conduct heat from underneath as well come to the upper side [um] but also yes carpet also works if it’s not too thick. [um] another thing which many architects seem to forget when they design and enquire about underfloor heating systems is a dedicated room for all of the equipment that can be a small room 2 metres by 3 metres, for instance, its usually big enough where all the equipment can be installed and from there we basically supply the floor with [with uh] required water and also in there we put the DB and the tank and whatever is required in order to operate the entire system. [um] duration of the installation is round about, we can install 100 – 150 square metres per week just for the floor and them [um] the utility rooms or rest of the installation is about another 2 weeks, roughly. During the installation, no one can be onsite, no other [inaudible] persons can be walking around because it’s a very clean job, it’s almost like in a hospital, sterile, so we come before we start, we vacuum the whole place, we clean because we don’t want any stones or dirt to penetrate the [inaudible] because then we might have a leakage, although leakages can be fixed afterwards [um] but yeah, it’s better to avoid it from the beginning.
Emmanuel: Ok that sounds [that sounds] very interesting, but again, [uh] highly specialised [um] Istvan just on the note of [um] the installation and the time it takes does that mean also that if it should be dust free that by now the windows are in, the ceiling is in and that you’ve got the [the] shell is completely built by now?
Istvan: Yes, that means exactly that and that would make me very happy if it always happens on all sides um] yes ideally windows, everything closed, doors are in, if it’s not possible to put the windows in then [um] those openings must be closed with plastic. (Emmanuel in the back: OK) wind and dirt and rain cannot blow through. Top
Emmanuel: Ok, thank you for the interesting information. Right so let’s look at, you already mentioned the different floor covering [uh] can you just recap on the different floor coverings used with hydronics?
Istvan: Yes [um] many people now days also go for a polished screed, which I didn’t mention earlier. Polished screed and tiles are ideal for underfloor heating [um] because they conduct heat very well and that’s what we want to conduct the heat away from the pipe which is about 60 [cm] mm below [uh] we want to conduct that heat away to the inside of the room and then the water can go back to the heat pump and from there can heat up again. [um] but also its possible to use [um] a thin carpet or even a wooden floor, the wooden must be certified though for underfloor heating.
Emmanuel: Ok and would that wood include the laminate floors?
Istvan: That can be done as well, yes.
Emmanuel: Ok, righty.
Istvan: Generally, it’s not a big issue even with a wooden floor or carpets [um] the temperature in pipe, or the temperature of the water circulating in there is around about 35 degrees, maximum of 40 degrees, that means on the underside [um] on the upper side of your screed, on the underside of your final floor covering when you have 28/29/30 degree.
Emmanuel: Ok so any material that can last at that temperature is a possible covering?
Istvan: That is correct [that is correct] which most of the material do because in summer the sun shines, the floor gets much warmer then what it becomes during underfloor heating.
Emmanuel: Ok, before we move on, at this stage I just want to enquire, so what about expansion and contraction with the heating and the floor and all the water running through the floor. How is that catered for? Do we need to cater for that?
Istvan: Yes [um] when we install the floor, before that polystyrene goes in we cover all the surrounding walls in a [inaudible] insulation [so that] it’s a strip of insulation of flexible polystyrene which can be attached to the wall and [uh] that basically keeps when the screed is poured, that keeps the screed away from the wall so there’s always a gap between the screed and the wall, which means when the screed heats up from whatever temperature it was poured, for instance 20 degree or 25 degree to the final 35/40 degree that it can expand by 2cm on each side and that allows for the thermal expansion of it.
Istvan: So, it’s floating, screed is floating in the room.
Emmanuel: Ok and any expansion joints?
Istvan: Expansion joints, yes [um] if the room gets very long, if it’s a very long room for instance bigger than 12 metres then we prefer to put expansion joints somewhere in the middle to cut it into 2 [uh] blocks pretty much. Top
Emmanuel: Ok, right now I want to go a little bit [uh] and think laterally, can the hydronics only be fitted to the floor or [or] do you have it in other places as well?
Istvan: [um] you mentioned earlier that the heat pump can cool as well as an add on, the heat pumps I’m usually using they [they] have it built in, either we use it or we don’t. [um] now a problem with the floor is [um] if you cool through the floor cold air is heavier than warm air which means since you cooling from underneath that air doesn’t convect upwards so it gets stuck on the floor which means [um] in the room you creating temperature layers, you [stratosphying] the air temperature from warm air on top too cold at the bottom of the floor. [um] in that case it is better to cool from the top which means using ceiling panels for instance [um] it’s the same method, it’s a dry wall panel where the pipe is laid in and [um] in summer you can cool, you circle cool water through the panel and then the cold air will fall naturally through natural convection and flood through [um and um] if you do it through the floor you can install a small fan for instance to get a little bit of circulation.
Emmanuel: Ok, so does that mean the ideal would then be for your heating you place that in the floor and then for your cooling you place that in the ceiling?
Istvan: Yes, that is correct [um] I mentioned earlier though is manifolds [um] we can add a couple of more circuits on that manifold and then have, let’s say 5 circuits for that room [uh] supplying only cold water in summer, supplying to the ceiling panels [uh] alternatively also a very nice feature would be the wall heating and cooling, so if you transfer heat through the walls its always efficient.
Emmanuel: Is this instead of the floor?
Istvan: That can be instead of the floor, as long as the floors insulated.
Istvan: So, the floor must be insulated otherwise you going to lose [inaudible with Emmanuel talking]. [um] and then you just heat the walls around you, you have to cover around about 60% [um] of the floor area on the wall, up to a height of 2 metres, that gives you an idea of how big that wall heating area needs to be and that can be used then for heating and cooling very efficiently because you are surrounding your body with warmth, either low temperature warmth in [in] winter and [uh] cold in summer.
Istvan: So, your body radiates either in summer into the wall to get rid of heat or you absorb heat from the wall.
Emmanuel: Ok, right and how difficult is that? That means it’s a panel that goes on top of the wall or [or] do you place the piping and then you plaster the wall?
Istvan: Yes, there are 2 options, if you build new then [um] the pipe is plastered, it’s basically a rail which gets attached to the bricks in that rail we run the piping like a snake and [uh] then on top of the piping we’ll have to have round about 20mm of screed [ag a] sorry plaster covering, which means the plaster will be on about 35-40mm thickness in total counted from the brick wall.
Emmanuel: Does that mean that piping in the wall, those rails you mentioned, would those now be the same pex or is it a different product all together?
Istvan: The rails is just to hold the pipe.
Istvan: The pipe is the very same pipe which we use in the floor.
Istvan: that multilayer pex pipe, but just to hold it on the wall we use those rails.
Emmanuel: Instead of those plastic, what did you call it those knobs?
Emmanuel: Ok, and of course the plasterer will have to know exactly what they are doing whilst they are plastering over this [uh]pipe network and to ensure the plaster wont crack?
Istvan: Yes, they plaster in 2 stages, the first layer is just to cover the pipe by 5mm roughly. And then whilst the plaster is wet, we attach a web, it’s like [uh] a mesh, it’s a mesh (Emmanuel saying Ok in the background) that mesh will then be worked into the plaster and then afterwards you can add another cm of plaster on top of it and that keeps the plaster strong.
Emmanuel: Ok and for that process do you also need the house to be dust proof and in a seal envelope whilst you are doing this? It doesn’t sound like it?
Istvan: No that is not as critical [um] it’s really just about the floor piping so that [um] it can’t get punctured [um] if the pipe is attached to the wall it’s unlikely that it gets punctured through walking over it or whatever.
Emmanuel: And then you can just have a regular floor with a regular thickness screed (Istvan in the background yes) with carpet or whatever you want to do?
Istvan: That is correct. It must be insulated underneath not to lose all the heat. Top
Emmanuel: Ok that’s fair enough. Right so if you now look at all these options, hydronics in the floor or in the wall for heating and cooling or in the ceiling for cooling and heating in the floor with hydronics, this sounds very complicated as to how to choose which of these should be done and the costs it sounds like it’s too complicated to even try and figure out, but I am sure you are going to help us with the costs comparatively speaking. [um] sorry Istvan and is some of this for existing housing, in other words to easily retrofit hydronics instead of building new. How does all of that come into play?
Istvan: The methods I just explained with regards to the floor heating or cooling and the wall heating are for new houses, but we also have a retrofit panel, it’s a [inaudible] panel which can be laid on top of your existing floor, the thickness of that panel is 20mm, in there we also run that piping that multilayer pex piping but its thinner instead of 16mm its only 11.7 [um] so it will raise your floor by about 20mm in total but right on top of that panel [um] you can put new tiles. You’ll have to cut doors though and generally you will lift about 20mm higher but it is possible, alternatively we also have a similar panel which is then attached to the wall instead. In there runs the piping and it’s a dry wall panel pretty much with cut outs and there runs the piping as an upgrade to an existing house.
Emmanuel: Ok so you’ve got the 2 options, we can take a conventional house and retrofit it relatively easy [um] or for a new house you’ve got the different options, and cost wise how do the costs compare?
Istvan: [um] of course if you build new it’s always cheaper cause you can plan everything right from the beginning you can have your supply piping and you can lay it whilst they casting the concrete and so on, if it has to be installed afterwards it’s always a bit more of a mission to find a loophole back into the building to install the manifold somewhere in the building [um] so it’s always cheaper to build from scratch, new. Costs for such a system, you are looking at about R1500 per square metre if it’s just heating, roughly [um] if it is a retrofit application with those panels then it’s more in the region of R2000 per square metre.
Emmanuel: Ok, and [and] when you say now the R1500 per square metre is that for your wall system or your floor or your ceiling? Just help me understand that?
Istvan: That would be for a typical floor instillation [um] what I usually also do is add in some wall heating in bathrooms.
Emmanuel: Ok, that would be nice.
Istvan: If it is a badly insulated house, cause generally in bathrooms there’s very little floor space available for the heat exchange (Emmanuel agrees in the background) so I try to cover as much as possible in the bathroom even under [under] the shower and toilet, [yeah] sometimes it’s not enough then I add some additional square metres on the wall just to get that higher temperature, in the bathroom you want 24 degrees ideally whilst in other areas 20-22 degrees.
Emmanuel: Ok [shoo] that sounds very interesting, now in terms of the wall heating and cooling or for that matter the ceiling which can be in a newly built house how does that compare in price per square metre, and how do you work the square metre is it floor square metre or wall square metre?
Istvan: The wall square metre is cheaper because there we don’t put polystyrene underneath, no vapour barrier, no knobs so the whole insulation is also much quicker because it’s really just a matter of attaching those rails on the walls and then running the pipe in there and then getting the pipe in there and back out to the manifold and then it goes back to the heat pump [um] the floor insulation is a bit more complex, all those polystyrene balls need to be cut into shapes and sizes and make sure there is no [um] hollow areas underneath because that’s going to create a drum effect when you walk, so it’s a bit more complex to do a floor insulation. [um] a house only with wall heating I haven’t done yet so mostly its floor heating and then added wall heating.
Emmanuel: In certain areas?
Istvan: Yeah Top
Emmanuel: Right so [so] far some of this is easy to understand some of this is complicated to understand and I’m glad that I’m not doing the installation and that an expert is doing the installation, [um] and then what can you tell us about other features that the system provides?
Istvan: We talked about the cooling and the heating which is powered by the heat pump, for an additional cost and with a little bit more effort one can add pool heating as well so if in summer the heating is not useful for heating then why not heat the pool.
Emmanuel: Ok, I’ve course so in other words the heat pump works a little bit harder and then also warms up the pool.
Istvan: I wouldn’t say it works harder, it works longer [yeah] this way you can save the heat pump for heating the pool. In summer, the heat pump is off for heating and why not use it for pool heating, a nice warm bath.
Emmanuel: Ok, even in summer to heat the pool?
Istvan: Many people heat the pool in summer.
Emmanuel: Oh, I thought it was a winter thing.
Istvan: Well in winter I wouldn’t heat the pool anyway cause the losses are too high and the heat pump won’t be able to keep up, it’s a waste you want it to be efficient and heating the pool in winter is just a waste.
Emmanuel: Ok so for pool heating in winter better use the [the] method where you’ve got [the] something lying on the roof that will cycle the suns heat into the pool?
Istvan: Those, yes, those panels are very cheap, if the pool pump is running then it will heat somewhat, whether they can make up for the losses at night that is another question. I think it’s just a matter of how many panels you’ve got on the roof. For instance, in-between [in between] winter and summer that time when the sun is not strong enough to heat the pool yet and the heat pump as an additional source. But here ideally again the pools walls are insulated towards the ground, water has a very good heat storage, but it also conducts heat very well away. The walls are insulated as well as a pool cover should be installed just to lower the losses at night.
Emmanuel: So, to include the hydronics or the heat pump for the pool you would have to, as you said now insulate the pool, that means it should be part of the ground up building of the pool, included in the design did I understand correctly?
Istvan: Yes, they should be included in the design already so if a client is interested in pool heating via that same heat pump then I will also give recommendations of what to do and how to make the system more efficient.
Emmanuel: Ok, any other features that the system provides?
Istvan: Yes of course the heat pump in under floor heating mode is producing a water temperature of maximum 40 degrees, now this temperature can be increased so the heat pump can produce a much higher temperature than 40 degrees, we just limit it there. Anything higher than 40-45 degrees also possible but anything higher than that is getting uncomfortable even. If you walk around in the house and the floor is too warm it is uncomfortable and even unhealthy.
Istvan: In other words the heat pump can produce hot water for domestic purposes, how that works is instead of heating the water in the floor it switches over via a valve and heats a tank, that tank gets heated up to 55 degrees roughly, and then it’s only a storage for thermal energy and from the tank via a fresh water module [um] we produce domestic hot water on demand so only when the hot water tap is open the unit switches on, draws water from the tank from the top of the tank where it’s the hottest, draws that water through a heat exchanger and on the other side the cold municipal water is connected and as the cold water flows through the heat exchanger it heats up to a set temperature which is 40-45 degree which is more than enough hot water already if you produce it on demand.
Emmanuel: Ok is this hot water now for the tap, for the kitchen, for the shower, for the bath?
Istvan: Yes, that’s correct. The unit is like an instant gas heater, when you open your hot water tap the gas heater switches on and produces your hot water. The same way this unit is working, only the heating comes from the water which is stored in the tank.
Emmanuel: Ok, which was heated by the heat pump?
Istvan: Yes, the advantage of that as well is that since you are not storing huge amounts of domestic water, consumable water the temperature doesn’t need to be that high. In the geyser, the temperature is only set to 60 degrees because of the legionella bacteria that develops at temperatures lower than that.
Emmanuel: Ok, from a health point of view.
Istvan: Yes, and since we are not storing any water, we are only producing it when it’s really required we can lower the temperature and that makes it efficient again.
Emmanuel: This sounds very complicated.
Istvan: But [but, but but] what is required is this is a central system so the unit is somewhere outside, the tank is somewhere in the utility room far away from any bathroom or kitchen [um] what is required is a so called warm water ring network and that is basically a pipe starting in the utility room going to each and every tap in the house and then coming back to that unit in the utility room and [um] the following happens: that unit can be programmed, for instance in the morning before the owner of the house gets up, half an hour it pre-heats the water and the same happens in the evening it pre-heats the water before everyone gets home and that means when you open the tap it takes a second and the hot water is there already so there’s no waiting for the cold water to drain until the hot water gets to the tap. You save electricity, you save water you don’t lose it.
Emmanuel: Ok, especially the water that you save there if the hot water is hot on tap.
Istvan: Yes, that is correct. It’s really [uh] from the drain we only have 1 metre pipe, maybe 1.5 metres to the tap and that is very [very] little water. It’s not even half a litre.
Emmanuel: Ok, understood.
Istvan: Its much less than that.
Emmanuel: Istvan if you just give me a moment I would like to continue, but before we continue, ok there we are…
Emmanuel: Ok, everything is under control, I’d like now to [just uh] are there any other features your system provides?
Istvan: Yes, all my systems come with an automation system, that system comes with a PLC, so that system is a programmable logic controller which I use to switch the heat pump on and for heating and cooling, to tell the heat pump which temperature to produce for instance [um] to switch the pumps on which circulates water to the manifolds for instance, to control the valves on the manifold to open the flow of water to the different zones with that system I measure temperatures in each room or each zone via sensors. In the room, there’s no panel or anything there’s really just a sensor, it’s a little box usually mounted next to the light switch and the owner of the system, he can use his phone and download an app and on the app you can see all the temperatures in each room, he can set the temperature or switch it to heating or cooling. He can monitor all the temperatures in the tank, he can change the schedule for the ring, the warm water ring circulation pump so its [uh] very interactive, very informative interface and that system gives me the possibility basically to [um] monitor also remotely if there’s a break down or anything I can see what’s happening. What are the temperatures? It doesn’t matter if I am at the office or at the client or sitting in Europe.
Emmanuel: Ok, so if I as the user of this equipment, do I need to be an engineer? Do I need to be a programmer? Is it easy for me to use this automation that you are referring to?
Istvan: It is very [very] easy, [um] actually as the owner of the system you don’t have to interfere at all, you tell me which temperatures you want in the rooms so I can set them for you. You can always change them afterwards but after that the system is self-sufficient, it controls itself. Its intelligent, it knows when its summer, it knows when its winter, it knows what to do at which point in time and there’s no need to interfere afterwards. One can but it’s not necessary.
Emmanuel: Ok, thank you for that interesting information, anything else before I move on to the next topic?
Istvan: [um] that automation system is a very [very] big topic, but that will be part of another conversation a few weeks down the line. It’s 1 of my hobbies to fiddle with it, to program it, to try new things and new methods so it’s very [very] interesting.
Emmanuel: Ok, alright, I can also share some information of how that automation helped us [um] save money in the beginning phases after we built the green house. So now let’s go on, so now we going to have the [inaudible] of another discussion and we looking forward to that Istvan.
Istvan: Yes, I will be back.
Emmanuel: Ok, now what is an automation system? You’ve sort of discussed it broadly speaking is there anything else or can I move on and just [uh] with the idea that we will see you again for the next discussion?
Istvan: I would just like to add that [um] automation system is expandable, I use it just for the heating and cooling part but it is expandable if one for instance want to expand the house in the future then you could get a rain water system for instance and monitor the water level through that same app pretty much, or install a photo voltaic system which generates electricity for the house which can be used by the heat pump as well, that enables me as the programmer to switch the heat pump on if there is surplus energy available, which there is usually during the day, over heat the screed by a degree or 2, store some additional energy in the screed and have less run time later on in the evening off Eskom.
Emmanuel: Ok, that’s interesting.
Istvan: So, there are many things possible and it’s a huge topic, I think we should move it to another session.
Emmanuel: Ok let’s do that and I am looking forward to it and I am sure the listeners are looking forward to some more of your highly technical discussion which I feel is easy enough to grasp but it’s not for the faint hearted, I would say, or is it?
Istvan: Yes, [uh] I am not sure how to answer this and I am involved in this so sometimes I forget that people might never heard of underfloor heating or this kind of thing or automation technologies and I always have to go a step back and [uh] yeah start explaining, but it’s not a problem.
Emmanuel: Ok, in the next interview we will have a look and a listen to that. Top
Emmanuel: So that was our discussion with Istvan Nyul, from Kyasol Green Building Solutions talking about sustainable and green building design, please take note that where we interview or run adverts the content is not necessarily endorsed by Radio Live Green Smart. I’m your host Emmanuel.
And now over to the music.
End of Transcript Top
You may have heard of green homes. Eco-friendly houses that are built using green principles to conserve resources and reduce running costs are slowly gaining traction in South Africa and around the world. As the green trend develops, smart technologies are being incorporated into green homes to enhance their efficiency. The two work well together to enable monitoring and efficiently managing power and water resources. What does this mean for homeowners?
Green homes are desirable because they use resources efficiently. This is particularly important when it comes to power consumption. An ordinary home relies on the municipal electricity supply. As the price of electricity continues to rise, homeowners are looking for ways to reduce their consumption and to save money. And become less dependent of the resource providers. Investing in a green smart home maximises the conservation of precious energy and saves money in the process.
The smart technology continuously collects consumption data. The information is available on an app, on a laptop, desktop, and smart devices for any period. Up to the minute, hour, day, over weeks, months and years the information is available and enables extensive monitoring of the resources to track and immediately identify patterns. This information is invaluable to efficiently manage resource usage. Thereby providing facts to make important decisions about how the home is run.
Let’s use an example to illustrate this. As the weather cools down at the start of winter, we’d want to increase the temperature inside the home. The Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system takes 24-48 hours to reach the newly required temperature. Almost immediately after adjusting to the newly required temperature, by monitoring the electricity usage it is possible to see how much more electricity it would use. By adjusting the temperature by a half to one degree or so while maintaining the comfort level within the home, it is possible to save on electricity costs. Without such a system, we’d need to wait for the next bill to see the cost of raising the temperature.
Bear in mind that green homes also make use of superior insulation to protect the home from temperature fluctuations. The comprehensive insulation prevents the loss of warm air in winter, and cool air during summer. This increases the efficiency of the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system. Thus, the heat pump does not use excessive electricity to retain the home’s temperature as the seasonal outside temperature cools down or rises.
Being able to monitor and adjust the temperature of the home might be considered a luxury. Ultimately though, it’s the ideal way to maintain the comfort level without resorting to drastically increase energy consumption. The smart technology provides the easy monitoring and efficient managing and to fine tune every element of the home. Thus, comfort and luxury at momentous saving of monthly running cost.
Heat pumps generates hot and cold water. Heated water is used by the Hydronics and in the bathrooms and kitchen; cold water is used by the Hydronics. Heating and cooling of water accounts for a large portion of the total electricity bill. Having the ability to manage the temperature by half or a single degree presents yet another good opportunity for reducing the monthly running costs. Once again, the real advantage of the smart technology lies in its ability to collect data. Over time trends and patterns are visible. This allows for planning future needs, budgets and expenses.
The water temperature and temperatures throughout the home is adjusted from a laptop or smart device app which means there is no need to climb up into the ceiling, as with traditional houses, to manually adjust the geyser’s thermostat. These are some of the reasons why smart technology is used. It offers an added level of convenience for running a green home efficiently.
Making every drop count
It is essential to use water efficiently. Therefore, many green homes usually include a rainwater harvesting system. Untreated rainwater is used for garden irrigation, flushing the toilets and for the washing machine. There are two significant benefits to using rainwater for these purposes. Firstly, it helps to conserve one of our most precious resources by making efficient use of water which would otherwise be lost. Secondly, it presents homeowners with the opportunity to reduce the effects of water restrictions and price hikes.
Rainwater is free and green Homes shoul have rainwater tanks to capture and store rainwater. The rainwater harvesting system should be connected to the municipal supply, so the home always has access to water. Without the necessary sensors, it is cumbersome to monitor the water levels in an underground tank.
A rainwater level sensor needs to be installed in the tank that connects to the smart technology system. This enables the monitoring of the level and usage of the harvested rainwater in the tank simply by logging in and checking the data. This information is stored and enables seeing how the levels fluctuate over a period of days, weeks, months, and years. This information is used to adjust and manage rainwater usage. This is up to the minute data and is an accurate picture of how much rainwater is used. Calculating how much water is required for a water-wise indigenous garden then enables adjusting the irrigation exactly according its water requirements. Usually saving multiple times the water used for the garden when based on guesswork.
Efficiently managing resource usage
Until we have experience of green homes and smart home technologies, it’s difficult to understand how practical and convenient it is, how empowering it is, how efficiently resources are managed to maximise saving of monthly running costs. The aim of using smart-home technology features helps to increase the effectiveness of the green features. Smart technology with the green home features is based on an easily extendable smart technology infrastructure which in turn enables home automation capabilities, in addition to the green smart home monitoring and management.
For example, it is possible to use the smart technology for added security. It’s simply a matter of adding the relevant interior and exterior movement sensors and connecting them to the system. When the sensors are triggered, in addition to setting off an alarm that alerts us to an intruder, the following alerts are also possible.
Triggering the lights to come on, the blinds to open, and loud music to start playing: Thus, alerting anyone in the home and the neighbours, to a potential break in and has the potential to severely startle and repel the intruder.
Yet another way in which smart technology adds value to our homes. When we sell on our green smart home, this is a feature that is sure to appeal to future buyers.
Added convenience with an app
Smartphones, smart devices and personal computers have dramatically altered the way we stay in touch and access information. It’s therefore not surprising that smart home technology includes an app. This allows us to access the system from anywhere in the world through our smartphone, tablet or laptop. That means we could be away on holiday, or on the other side of the world, and still be able to monitor and manage our home.
We are able to adjust the various green features from the app. For example, adjust the temperature of a room simply by logging in and tapping away on our smartphone. The system is easy to use, and user friendly and doesn’t require any additional software. It’s simply a matter of downloading the app and logging into our account.
We have access to all the information that is being collected by the system from the beginning. Smart home technology isn’t complicated or time-consuming. In fact, every effort has been made to ensure it makes running our home simpler and convenient. When we’re familiar with social media, or the Internet we’ll have no trouble using the app to monitor and manage our home remotely from our laptop, smart phone and smart device.
Enhancing our green home
Ordinarily, smart home technology and automation may be seen as a luxury. We might think that it’s not necessary to adjust the temperature of the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system when we’re not physically at home
The true intention of the smart system is to increase the efficiency of the green features. The real power of the smart system lies in its ability to collect data on the way we use electricity and water in our home. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept of green living, it’s easy to imagine that it’s all about saving money. In fact, there are real environmental benefits to conserving these resources.
Those who embrace these new green smart home technologies to monitor and manage their homes are able to enjoy the benefits of authentic green living. Although investing in a green smart home requires a larger investment initially, it is possible to recoup this through the momentous monthly savings. The green features and the smart home technology also adds value to our properties. Not only do we start saving money immediately, we’re able to command a higher price should we sell on our home. Future buyers will be on the lookout for green smart homes as the trend develops.
From the aforementioned it is fair to conclude that a smart green home offers more than the ability to save on monthly running costs. It gives us the opportunity to understand exactly how we use resources such as water and electricity to maintain our standard of living and lifestyle. We monitor and efficiently manage our home which allows us to adapt it to suit our needs.
Being able to create a comfortable, efficient home is a true luxury. While green homes offer us the ability to save money and resources, smart home technology takes it one step further. We maximise the efficiency of the green features included in the design and construction of our home. In the future, this will be the standard by which all homes are measured. Why merely invest in a green home? Rather invest 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:
- 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.